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Answering the call to inspire

Not all heroes can be seen. Some play an important role as the link between the person in distress and dispatching an ambulance to the relevant location. Innocent Tsotetsi is one such hero.

Innocent is a Team Leader at the ER24 Contact Centre in Paulshof in Johannesburg, a father of two young girls and a husband to Diana. He runs the floor and ensures that all emergency calls are answered.

Aside from working long hours under immense pressure, Innocent also answered another ‘call’. The call to help his wife establish a library at the Eldorado Park Primary school.

“Last year my wife was working at the school and she desperately wanted to open a library there. We both love reading and we wanted to do it for the community. There was a great need for this. Children can’t read anymore and aside from reading their prescribed homework they don’t read for fun,” said Innocent.

First, Innocent had to collect books. He posted a plea on social media and drove to every corner of Johannesburg to collect the books from willing contributors. He started collecting books last year November and by March this year he had already collected 500 books. He did this during the little time he had off in the week and on weekends.

“I am proud of my idea, but I am even prouder of my husband for the support and motivation I received from him. His vehicle was always loaded with books and he was willing to help all the time. This would not have been possible without him. I might have been the teacher, but he is the support structure behind everything that you see in this library,” said Diana.

Innocent and his wife believe in paying it forward.

“It is more important to change someone else’s life for the better than it is to focus on your own. Establishing a library at a school means that we’ll have more paramedics or doctors in the future. We want to see change in the community through reading,” said Innocent.

The library, a shipping container filled with about 3 000 books, was officially opened at the school last month and 1 259 children are benefitting from it.

Delyse Klassen, principal of the school, is grateful to Innocent and Diana.

“The library brought great excitement as the community library is not always accessible to all our learners. They now have resources close to them. We are also thankful to ER24 for sponsoring a first aid kit as this is always needed at the school.”

“The library is constantly full. Reading has brought change to our children,” said Rowena Goss, vice-principal at Eldorado Park Primary school.

Innocent says that he supports his wife through everything because she supports him too. And a supportive partner is pertinent in the emergency service industry.

“She knows me very well. She understands the line of work I am in,” said Innocent.

“Sometimes he doesn’t have to say anything, I just know. We had a traumatic experience with our daughter who was 4 at the time. We saw her being knocked over by a vehicle. When I saw the paramedics on the scene, he helped to explain the process to me. I have great respect for the work he does and the long hours he puts in. It is important that we support each other in the things we are passionate about,” said Diana.

Willem Stassen, clinical coordinator at the ER24 Contact Centre, regularly works with Innocent and admires his empathy towards everyone.

“He has a true understanding of what someone else might be going through. He has compassion and care for people he doesn’t even know. He takes personal accountability for getting vehicles to patients quickly. He also exhibits care and empathy towards his colleagues.”

Willem, who shares Innocent’s passion for education, is very proud of Innocent and the role he played to enrich the lives of others through books and knowledge.

“The best way to improve this country is through education. Literacy and vocabulary are great skills to have. The library made a big difference and Innocent was paramount in getting that done,” said Willem.

“You have to have a heart for someone else. You have to bring change, not wait for someone else to,” said Innocent.