Zithulele Outreach 2022

Finding the words to describe this trip is a near impossible task. When reflecting on the trip a few words come to mind, incredible, unforgettable, enlightening, inspiring. I could spend hours listing various words that try to describe this experience but the truth is nothing can truly encapsulate the emotional connection I think we all developed to the little village.

We arrived at school at around 5:00 in the morning, tired but excited, and met with the group from Westerford before finally hitting the road for what was going to be a very long journey to our eventual destination, a village in the Transkei called Zithulele. After two days of travelling we made it to our accommodation for the week, Wild Lubanzi. We were all exhausted from travelling but morale was high as we explored the beautiful lodge and we were more than happy with what would be our home for the week. Sunday morning we continued to explore the area and hiked to Hole in the Wall where we enjoyed the warm weather of the Wild Coast and a delicious lunch at the Hole in the Wall Hotel. After a relaxing day of leisure we were ready to start the tutoring program. Monday morning we met the Axium team we would be working with at the Axium Education headquarters. We then divided into two groups, one would stay in the village and tutor at the primary school and the other would go further out to tutor at the Ekukhuleni program at one of the local high schools.

Seeing the conditions at the two schools was honestly a shock. Coming from such a privileged background and seeing the contrasting conditions was a tough reality to face but also really important as it put a lot of things into perspective. South Africa is a country divided by inequality and it can be easy to forget that our lives are very different to the lives of a lot of people who we share this country with. This is something that would become increasingly more obvious to us as the events of the week unfolded.

As part of the English tutoring programme, we were asked to read some of the essays the grade 11’s had written. The majority of these stories were deeply personal and really gave us insight into the things these students faced on a daily basis. One particular essay that stood out to me was one written by a grade 11 girl. She had dedicated her essay to her mother who she said helped her become the woman she is today. This essay was beautifully written and I could see the impact her mother had on her. A few days later, after we had finished the tutoring programme, I found out her mother had passed away years ago but the memory of her and her love for her mother was enough to motivate her to keep up the hard work. This girl’s  mother truly had a major impact on her even though she was no longer with her.

I have since come to find out the meaning of “ekukhuleni”, it means to grow up and I can’t help but think that it is true for all of us. This trip was about maturing, it was about learning to not take what you have for granted but also about understanding there are those with less and we have the platform to help them so it is our moral duty to do so. What I can tell you for sure is that this experience really was incredible, unforgettable, enlightening, inspiring and any other word that fits into that category. I still do not think this report has sufficiently encapsulated the essence of this trip but I do not think anything will, you just had to be there.

Written by Thabo de Visser (RBHS)