South Africa Experience
Read about our recent student trip to South Africa!
On the 30th June 2015, 22 Post 16 students and 3 members of staff set off to South Africa not really knowing what to expect. By the end of the trip, however, we left knowing about and understanding new cultures and many of us felt as though our outlook on life had changed.
The Butterfly Project:
Our first outreach work took place at Roseland’s Butterfly Project, where disadvantaged children were invited to attend free summer schools, given clothes, fed and educated, keeping them off the streets and the potential dangers they might face there. For many of us it was the first time we felt like we were in South Africa, or at least our perception of what South Africa was. The children blessed us with an amazing song and accompanying dance which we will stay with us all.
The Thandi House:
Thanks to a lovely couple who set this facility up voluntarily and take no wages, the orphaned/abandoned/abused children here are protected and loved. Some are still visited by their young, teenage mothers who attend college during the day. Often the cause of their pregnancies was as a result of being abused themselves. We learnt of cases where children were being adopted by new families. There we painted, gardened and played with the children and to us it seemed insignificant but to the owners and children we made a huge difference.
Richmond Primary School:
Muzi, our bus driver, drove up into the hills just outside Richmond to a Zulu township where his parents lived and where he grew up. We were warmly welcomed at the Primary School by the Head Teacher who asked us to make the school more vibrant by painting a mural on the exterior walls. Our theme was ‘The Big Five’, which challenged many of us to dig out our artistic abilities again. Throughout the trip we learnt many different things that will stay with us for life. One example is the importance of giving. We saw people who had nothing in comparison to us yet still gave up their time and food to share with us, which was delicious! We also learnt how much joy we are able to bring by just smiling, playing and singing with others. The Zulu culture is also a huge element of the trip that we explored and learnt about during the trip. Many of us felt that by learning about the hard work the traditional Zulu undertakes daily to clean, cook, farm and gather food, we became more grateful and aware of what we have. We were shocked to learn about the cleaning properties of cow dung, and how they use this to clean the floors in the traditional huts!
Although our leisure time was amazing (going on safari, a hippo cruise and to the famous Ushaka waterpark), we cannot deny that we faced challenges. Seeing the variety of different conditions that people live in juxtaposed against wealth and commerce was an eye-opener. We overcame these challenges by putting 110% into whatever we did to help, as we knew it would make a real and lasting difference to the people we met.
From the trip we will take away many things; not only will we take away our memories, souvenirs and photos, but we have all discovered new friends whom we have formed strong bonds with. We all agree that outreach work and volunteering is something we want to make a long term thing and not just a three week trip. Interestingly, some of our plans for our future and career choices have altered since going on this trip as we realise how important it is to use to make a difference where we can and help others. We are all very grateful for this wonderful experience, and after a long journey home, are ready to put into practice our newly formed commitments to helping others.
Liana Burrell Head Girl