In March 2016, Coláiste Cois Life participated in a SERVE School Immersion Programme. The group of 16 students travelled to South Africa with Chris O’Donoghue to work alongside our partner Tsholofelo in Rustenburg. Adhering to Comhlamh’s Code of Good Practice, SERVE met with the students 4 times over the year prior to departure introducing the students to different global issues, culture, health and safety, child protection etc.
We have been working with Coláiste Cois Life for over four years and this is their second School Immersion Programme.
The school have contributed over €20,000 towards our Irish Aid supported Development Projects in South Africa. This ongoing act of solidarity by the school, students, teachers, board of governors and parents demonstrates a solid commitment towards the fight for global justice and we cannot express our gratitude enough.
The group worked in Siza and Nkaneng squatter camps on community development projects. In Siza, they met economic migrants from Mozambique and Zimbabwe who had travelled to South Africa in the hopes of gaining employment. Poverty drives people from their home countries (mostly Southern and Eastern African countries) to South Africa with the hopes of gaining employment in the mines. Unfortunately, the mining areas have succumb to many issues including very high rates of HIV, food insecurity and conflict. You can read more about the mines around Rustenburg from SERVE volunteer Karina McGinley’s blog here.
In the squatter camp Siza, The group contributed to the community development project run by Tsholofelo and gave the clinic a colourful face-lift!
This clinic is attended by hundreds of people every week where they receive their anti-retroviral (ARVs) medication. ARVs controls their HIV infection and helps to prevent it from progressing to AIDS. Now, while patients wait at this clinic in the squatter camp they have a much brighter and pleasant space to be in. We cannot underestimate the importance of this.
Leaving the Rustenburg area, Brother Moalusi led the group to his homeland in Sesobe village. This gave the students an insight in to life in rural South Africa. South Africa is known as the Rainbow Nation because of its many diverse and colourful cultures. The group have experienced a handful of these cultures during their immersion programme.
While overseas, Bishop Kevin Dowling gave an inspiring talk to the group explaining apartheid and the history of South Africa. After the students developed questions, Bishop Kevin returned to the group to answer the questions and discuss the subject further. This proved to be a very insightful and educational experience for the students who learned about apartheid and South Africa’s fight for freedom and equality.
The Global Citizen Programme involved 18 young people from Freedom Park, Nkaneng and Siza (squatter camps surrounding the mines near Rustenburg) and 16 students from Coláiste Cois Life. During the Global Citizen Programme, the young people explored and discussed matters affecting young people today in South Africa and Ireland.
Their greatest learning will come from all of these experiences, along with the work that they completed alongside the Step up and Serve youth group. Each year, Step up and Serve work hand in hand with SERVE volunteers and School Immersion Programmes to complete different projects, make valuable friendships and to share their stories. Thank you to Charles, Loui, Senzo, Berry, Rebaona, Itu, Rethabile and Moalusi, for joining the group.
Before leaving South Africa, the group travelled to Johannesburg to visit the Apartheid Museum. In the Museum, the students learned about the role of young people in fighting for justice and for the apartheid to come to an end.
Their experience and learning does not end here. The group will continue to engage and interact with SERVE and our partners in South Africa. Their ‘Next Step’ evening in Coláiste Cois Life will signpost the students towards further opportunities that they can engage with.
For more information about the SERVE School Immersion Programme, please visit our Immersion page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.