June 2016 South Africa Visit

Read Miss Jackson's wonderful blog, and see photo gallery and tweets from South Africa

Photo: Visiting Ntolwane Primary School

Photos from South Africa Visit 2016

South Africa Visit June 2016

Fourteen St. Mary’s Menston students embarked on a journey to South Africa on 15 June to deliver a leadership programme to a high school in one of South Africa’s poorest rural areas.  The Bambisanani Partnership, set up by Mr David Geldart, former Assistant Headteacher at St. Mary’s, has seen the school and Mnyakanya High School in KwaZulu-Natal, working in collaboration for the last ten years.

This year’s visit was led by Mr Giles Wilkes, supported by Mr Tom Pringle and Miss Eleanor Jackson from St. Mary’s.  Mr Chris Mullarkey, Primary Education Tutor at Leeds Trinity University also joined the group.

St. Mary’s students Aidan Conlon, Oliver Armitage, Chris Ginty, Ryan Smith, Ben Hings, Sean Moorby, Leah Delahey, Amy Collins, Elizabeth Westhead, Jayda Etienne, Megan Lupton, Sophia Lenik, Joanna Ciesluk and Amelia Walsh used sport and literacy to develop and promote education, leadership, health and global understanding to the school children in the Nkandla region of KwaZulu-Natal.

This year was a special year for the partnership as not only did it celebrate its 10th anniversary, but for the first time, Leeds University were also involved.  Led by Andy Lockwood, the University students assisted a group of South African second year university students in delivering a series of Leadership Courses as well as a cycling award.   

As part of the programme, St. Mary’s students prepared curriculum lessons for the Mnyakanya learners.  Varied lessons were delivered, including how the heart works, the great fire of London, Geography, English and a French lesson which included a rousing version of ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ - in French of course.  All lessons were engaging and interactive; delivered brilliantly by St. Mary’s students.

Throughout their ten day visit, the St. Mary’s team taught South African students how to organise and deliver a mini Olympics, inspired by the forthcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.  This culminated in Mnyakanya High School hosting a Sports and Literacy Festival for one hundred local primary school children.  This was a tremendous success.  Developing leadership and inspiring students through sport and education was the initial aim of the Bambisanani Partnership.  The young South African learners were empowered and they learnt a range of skills which will help them as they continue their school lives.    

As part of the annual Leavers’ Awards Assembly, Mnyakanya High School was presented with 14 football shirts donated by The John Paul II Foundation 4 Sport.  The John Paul II Foundation 4 Sport was launched by Pope Benedict XVI on his visit to the UK in 2010.  The Foundation is inspired by Pope John Paul’s own vision of sports’ unique potential to develop individuals and communities.

Mnyakanya High School is the first school in South Africa to be invited to join the prestigious John Paul II Foundation.

During their visit, the St. Mary’s team also worked at an orphanage.  The Zulufadder Orphanage and Day Care Centre supports and cares for HIV/AIDS orphans and vulnerable children throughout KwaZulu-Natal. St. Mary’s students spent time singing, dancing and reading with the children.  The visit to Zulufadder was a hard-hitting reminder of the disparity between the two countries but it reinforced to all involved that the good work of the Bambisanani Partnership must continue.

“The Bambisanani Partnership allowed me to fully embrace a new culture where appreciation for all you have, counteracts the desperation that is so prevalent in some areas. I feel as though I developed an understanding for the different behaviours and ways of life and the process of tackling the language barrier has enabled me to deliver information more effectively to certain audiences. A truly humbling experience.”
— Oliver Armitage, Head Boy at St. Mary’s
“The visit to South Africa was an eye-opening experience. It made me realise how lucky we are and how we take so many things for granted. I felt so touched that they have such big dreams and are willing to do everything in order to live out these dreams. This experience changed me as a person as I constantly consider my actions and their effects on others locally and globally.”
— Amelia Walsh, Head Girl at St. Mary's
“Bambisanani has had a huge impact on many things such as the way I will go about helping others. I now appreciate the smaller things as I have experienced the hardships the South African learners go through.”
— Ryan Smith
“Now in its tenth year, this remarkable project continues to inspire young people from both countries to work together and learn together. The power of sport has been utilised very successfully to promote education, health, leadership and global citizenship. The Bambisanani team and its network of supporters deserve enormous credit for their work that is truly changing lives.”
— David Geldart, Founder of the Bambisanani Partnership

Tweets from South Africa Visit 2016