Returning home exhausted, enlightened and amazed 18 students and five members of staff from The Ridgeway School knew they had experienced something life changing, writes Elspeth Fisher.
The month following their Duke of Edinburgh Award at Gold level was filled with action, activity and a helping hand given wherever possible.
Beacon Vale Frail Care Centre, a psychiatric hospital was where the students cleaned windows and took time to talk with residents.
At Heinz Park project students served soup to young children, aged 3-9, who collected it in whatever containers they could find. Three days were spent at the Heaven Centre for abused women and children. Here Miss Forde from The Ridgeway, assisted by Ridgeway and Aloe students, used her artistic skills to transform a derelict room into a wonderful children’s playroom and also created a ‘peace garden.’
Aloe Secondary School and The Ridgeway School United
A place where the team made an impact was at Aloe School. Here they ran a breakfast club and took eight of their students away with them for two weeks. Thuletu Gsamba is one of the first two from Aloe to ever gain the Bronze President’s Award (their version of the D of E.) The expedition consisted of four days hiking in the Cederberg Mountains, four days canoeing in Namibia along the Orange River, and a visit to the Augrabies Waterfall.
Her thoughts of the trip gave her “new perspectives” about herself and seeing the world. “My world is going to be far bigger that Kayelitsha.”
After a tearful departure from their host families at Aloe School, the group, including students and staff from Aloe moved to a hostel in Cape Town. The final week visiting Robben Island and Cape Point, with some brave soul’s going shark diving!
A very moving visit was to the District Six Museum, accompanied by Clinton Classen, a Ridgeway member of staff who was born in District Six. Mr Classen spoke movingly about his experiences and showed the group the derelict area where his family home once existed. It was here between 1962-1982 that black people were forcibly moved out of District Six to the outskirts of Cape Town. Aloe school was built to accommodate children forced out of District Six.
The amount the Aloe School did for the Ridgeway team must be recognized, from the hospitality with their sumptuous reception to the whole school assembly goodbye. Special thanks are in order to Keith Damon, Principal of Aloe School and Noel Cleophas from Aloe for making the trip. Staff from the Ridgeway, also paid tribute to The Ridgeway students for their adaptability, constant good humor, kindness and willingness to get involved. “The positive feeling the group generated was overwhelming; I simply could not have finished my time at The Ridgeway School in a better way.’’ said Mr. Whiting
The work they have done, the lives they have changed and the experiences they have had are phenomenal.
Sebastian Hornby, a Year 13 student who attended the trip summed it up beautifully, “Eye-opening, humbling and unforgettable.”
Their cognitions to the ever moving, ever growing world we live in will have altered drastically and forever, as they have seen poverty at its worst, people at their best and team at its tightest.
Experiencing first hand the true meaning of the African word Ubuntu-(humanism); becoming a better person through contact with other people. All who are involved are committed to ensuring that the projects started and the contacts made will flourish for many years to come.