Bambisanani Partnership visit is a Life Changing Success
South Africa Visit June 2014 photo gallery (500 photos)
Over the past eight years, St. Mary’s Menston has developed a unique partnership with a school in one of South Africa’s poorest rural areas. This summer fourteen Year 12 students, three members of staff and a business sponsor, visited Mnyakanya School in the deprived Nkandla region of KwaZulu-Natal. Their job was to further develop the collaborative work between the two schools and wider community, which is known as the Bambisanani Partnership. Bambisanani is a Zulu word translated as “working hand in hand.” The Bambisanani Partnership uses sport as a catalyst to promote education, leadership, health and global understanding.
This visit was led by Physical Education teacher Barbara Pounder, supported by Catherine Chattoe and Giles Wilkes from St. Mary’s, and Roisin Serridge from Cardinal Maritime, one of the partnership’s longest serving sponsors. The students were:
- Beth Cotton
- Anna Evans
- Myles Hanlon
- Megan Haskins
- Helena Hunt
- Megan Ireton-Bourke
- Olivia Leonard
- James Smith
- Emily Sutcliffe
- Eleanor Thompson
- Beth Tindall
- Caroline Turnbull
- Karl Verspyck
- Jonathan Vincent
The Nkandla region is in the heart of Zululand and is extremely deprived with 90% unemployment, 60% adult illiteracy and one of the highest HIV/Aids rates in the world with one in three adults infected. Mnyakanya School is relatively poorly resourced with classes of sixty plus. Yet despite this, the school offers an oasis of hope for which many students walk two hours to attend.
Arriving at Mnyakanya the St. Mary’s team received a warm Zulu welcome from the school and community leaders. The mayor of Nkandla Cllr. Arthur Thamsanga Ntuli praised the work of the Bambisanani Partnership in an inspirational speech which reinforced the importance of working together with a desire to make a positive difference in the world: “You must live life with a purpose. The worst thing in life is not to die but to live life without a purpose.”
An important aspect of this year’s visit was to consolidate the relationship with the well-resourced and highly successful Eshowe High School, situated approximately an hour away from Mnyakanya. To that end, five students from Eshowe were invited to join the Bambisanani Leadership Programme for the week with St. Mary’s and Mnyakanya students. Nomaswazi Mabizela, Mbaliyethu Magwaza, Lindamusa Mdletshe, Daniel Ngonyama and Killian Govender joined the team and added enthusiasm, ideas and general positivity to the project.
During the visit the St. Mary’s and Eshowe students mentored twenty Mnyakanya students through the Bambisanani Leadership Course.
The students from all three schools were tasked with jointly organising and delivering a sporting event in which primary school children from neighbouring Ntolwane Primary School sampled rounders cricket and rugby. Earlier that day the hall at Mnyakanya School was filled with donated books for those same children to enjoy. These events, planned and delivered by students, were a remarkable success and gave pleasure to all involved.
The intention is now for the Mnyakanya leaders to continue the work with Ntolwane and other local Primary Schools, thus building leadership capacity in the community. For the past two years young leaders from Mnyakanya have gained international acclaim by being awarded the prestigious International Diana Award for their exceptional work in the wider community. This has included creating an HIV/AIDS awareness programme.
The Mnyakanya students valued the programme highly:
The impact of the experience on the Eshowe students was also interesting and significant:
This year the three schools worked together on an Art project. Four of the St. Mary’s group are studying Art and together with Killian Govender, a talented artist from Eshowe High School, a Bambisanani Mandala was created representing the hopes and dreams of all the students and staff, a great achievement in just three days.
Whilst at Mnyakanya, St. Mary’s students also taught a range of subjects and activities to students including: Maths, Science, History, Art, Football, Rounders and Netball. The St. Mary’s team brought with them much needed equipment for Mnyakanya School including books for the Bambisanani Library (opened four years ago), and resources for art and sport.
The final day culminated not only in the Festivals but also in a remarkable celebration event as Mnyakanya students proudly received the Bambisanani Leadership Award in recognition of successfully completing the course:
Andile Biyela, Neliswa Dlomo, Mbali Khanyile, Mzamo Khoza, Siphesihle Mbambo, Menzi Mbambo, Ntando Mpanza, Nokubonga Ngubane, Mpilonhle Shezi, Nokwanda Ngubane, Nhlanhla Sikhakhane, Zama Sithole, Xolani Vilakazi, Siyabonga Zakwe, Nomvelo Zitha, Sithabile Zuma, Teddy Zuma, Nokwanda Zuma, Nondumiso Mdlalose and Nompilo Nene
A number of very special annual awards were also presented in memory of two young men who have died in recent years. Three years ago, Laurie McCauley from Otley sadly died. Laurie was passionate about sport and literature and his family donated two special awards in these areas to be presented annually at Mnyakanya School to support the partnership. The awards are referred to as Laurie’s Legacy. Both Mnyakanya winners Sikhakhane Sibonelo (Football) and Zitha Nomvelo (Creative Writing) were absolutely delighted with they described as a “truly wonderful honour.”
Another annual award was also presented in memory of Sbonelo Magwaza, a Mnyakanya student who also died four years ago. Sbonelo was an outstanding young leader who, a year before his death, had successfully completed the Bambisanani Leadership Award. In tribute to Sbonelo, each school now presents an annual Sbonelo Magwaza Award for Outstanding Leadership. At St. Mary’s, the award was won by Karl Verspyck and will be presented later in the year. At Mnyakanya the award went to Siphesihle Shange.
Two other awards were introduced this year. As a result of links with St. Mary’s, Mnyakanya School recently became the first school in South Africa to be accepted into the John Paul II Foundation for Sport. The Foundation presented Mnyakanya with special awards for ‘Helping Others Achieve their Potential” and “The True Spirit of Sport” to Zothani Mzobe and Nondumiso Shandu respectively.
Chief Executive of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, Monsignor Vladimir Feltzmann also gave a personal gift of books for the school to mark his birthday. The Mnyakanya students have created an area called ‘Father Vlad’s Shelf’ in the library to house the wonderful and much-needed books.
The St. Mary’s team spent time at the Zulufadder Orphanage Day Care Centre. Zulufadder is an organisation that supports and cares for HIV/Aids orphans and vulnerable children throughout KwaZulu-Natal. The St. Mary’s team brought a range of equipment for the orphans and spent time singing, dancing, reading and playing sport with the children as well as serving meals. They also met Zulufadder staff and volunteers including the incomparable Popi, a Zulu lady who has devoted her life to working with orphans. She is the Playschool Manager and is enthusiasm and devotion personified. Popi had a profound effect on the St. Mary’s team causing them all to reflect on her significance as a genuine role model and inspiration.
At Zulufadder Mrs Pounder spent time with a young university student who had gone to the day centre as a young child, receiving the unique love and care that is found there. The young man’s name was Given, his name somewhat appropriate for the opportunity he had received through Popi and her team. Because of the support he and his mother received, he is now able to study Geo Sciences at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth. Popi simply told him that “anything was possible.”
Whilst in South Africa the St. Mary’s group stayed in the town of Eshowe and there they learned more about Zulu life and South African history by visiting a Zulu cultural village, Eshowe Fort Museum and Arts Centre and the Eshowe Township. A great supporter of the Bambisanani Partnership is Durban businessman, Logan Govender. Logan accompanied the group to Hhluhluwe Game Reserve to observe wildlife in its natural habitat. The group learned about the horrific practice of rhino poaching which will see the species wiped out within the next twenty years if not stopped. The visit also created the opportunity for the students to learn about man’s influence on the natural environment, in particular climate change. Logan also accompanied the group in Durban to experience urban life in South Africa. The aim was to focus on the extreme differences in wealth and living conditions in the city – ‘the haves and the have nots’. Whilst the group had gained a good understanding of rural deprivation in Zululand, this was their first experience of urban deprivation situated so close to urban wealth. The contrast certainly challenged students, giving them much food for thought.
The visit to South Africa clearly had a tremendous impact on the St. Mary’s students:
For teachers too, the partnership is a source of learning and inspiration:
In recent years, St. Mary’s have invited colleagues from partner schools and business sponsors to join them in South Africa. Roisin Serridge joined the team for the 2014 visit and learned first-hand about the partnership that her company Cardinal Maritime has supported for several years:
Barbara Pounder was delighted with the visit:
“We had a fantastic team and I cannot praise them all enough for what they achieved. My colleagues Catherine, Giles and Roisin made the most wonderful and unique contributions and the students responded in ways that continually surprise and gladden my heart. Great credit is also due to my friends and colleagues at Mnyakanya School especially PK Zonde and Mazet Langa who did a remarkable job coordinating the visit. When I see the impact of our work on young people and adults in both countries outlined in this report, it is clear that despite many difficulties and frustrations, we are making a real difference in some people’s lives. All those involved are changed in some small way and it is these small changes that ultimately make a difference. Those involved are challenged, tested and removed from their comfort zone; as a consequence they learn and grow, achieving things that they did not think possible. We have young people, teachers and schools working together for the common good: the very essence of Bambisanani and Ubuntu. Each group that goes to South Africa stands on the shoulders of those that have gone before; the expectation is to build on that platform and achieve more – the students from both countries did not disappoint and have taken the partnership to a new level this year. They have all achieved and the experience has given them a wider view of the world. I am looking forward to seeing what they do next. Special thanks must go to all our supporters for their outstanding contribution to this project.”
At an emotional presentation ceremony on the final day, Mrs Pounder reminded everyone that:
“Although we are 6,000 miles apart but under the same sky
We have high hopes for a better way
And always we will try
To keep the friendships we continue to make
The young people growing before our eyes
Our hands are joined, forever entwined
There will be no goodbyes.”
St. Mary’s Menston pupils make 8th visit to South Africa [MENSTONVILLAGEWHARFEDALE.COM]