Once again, it was that time of the year when we had our annual visit from our good friends at Wellington College. For three consecutive years now, this UK school has been paying us visits as part of their ‘Social Apprentice’ Programme , where they spend a full week getting involved in our programmes and community projects associated with us.
The week of the 20th-28th October was filled with emotions, especially for the 30 children from Wellington on their first visit to South Africa. Upon arrival, our staff welcomed them in a truly South African manner; a braai (South African barbeque) and traditional dancing in the evening. The Wellington staff found it very entertaining to watch some of the kids try their hand in some Zulu and Xhosa dancing, which was a sight for sore eyes for the rest of the group! With the excitement buzzing about the packed week ahead, the group, unlike us, was not very bothered about the gloomy weather they brought from England.
In order for the group to appreciate the opportunity presented to them in this tour, they had to have a true sense of what a typical life looks like for the average South African. Their first working day started off with a visit to our Junior School of Excellence (JSE) where they had a warm welcome from the teachers as well as a tour of the school. This was rather eye-opening as this school was nothing compared to the school life they are used to. Some of the most evident differences were the underdeveloped sports grounds and lack of facilities such as school library, gym, cafeteria, art, science, music departments etc. After the tour of the school, it was time to see some of the living conditions of the children; a township tour that included the history of the townships of Port Elizabeth. Driving and walking around the townships, the kids got to witness the poverty in South Africa they often hear about in the media. With the heavy rains in the weeks leading to this visit, the group saw the damage the floods had done and the distraught families in the informal settlements with flooded shacks.
The afternoon was full of excitement as the Wellington kids met their buddies for the week from the JSE and relationships were built. The children demonstrated to us the power of youth by immediately bonding with their buddies and casting all social and cultural differences aside. In their pairs, the kids got involved in different activities for the remainder of the afternoon. Included in these activities was the painting of the soon to be Computer / Library Room at the JSE as well as painting some pillars at the school with Wellington’s 8 aptitudes approach to education and wellbeing of children. The following two days were spent camping in the wild, where the Wellington group learnt some survival skills. For the rest of the week, the Wellington group got involved in community projects we are linked with, such as Zama after school club and Khayalethu Haven for street children; spending a lot of time assisting disadvantaged children. The working week ended off with a day outing for all the buddies. All 60 kids were taken bowling and enjoyed a rugby match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium; which was built specifically for the FIFA 2010 World Cup. The bowling was a first time experience for the JSE children, as was the stadium experience for most of them.
The final touch for the Wellington group was the unexpected send-off as their buddies surprised them at the airport to bid them farewell. As emotional as it was, everyone was happy to have met and made new friends that would forever remain in their memories.
We’d like to thank Neil Lunnon and his team for all the fundraising done for UTS, and for bringing us yet another delightful group of Wellington scholars! We look forward to hosting next year’s group and maintaining the great relationship built with Wellington over the past few years.
“The relationship with Wellington is so multifaceted, we get such a combination of fantastic results, not only do the children build great relationships and broaden their horizons to whole new worlds, not only does our JSE benefit from the skills and knowledge transfer from Wellington, but the children benefit from new facilities and scholarship options due to the funds raised by the Wellington children”, Nosipho Xapile, Programme Manager, United Through Sport.