Over the Long Exeat, Tedworth girls and staff set off on a ten-day adventure to South Africa to experience the culture, learn about the country’s history and to visit their international link charity, Tiger Kloof School to gain a first-hand experience of the work of the charity they support.
Tedworth Matron, Mrs Parsons and Geography teacher, Miss Emeny report on the trip,
“After an 11-hour overnight flight, we landed in Johannesburg where we met Enid, our guide for the week. Our first stop was 8115 Vilakazi Street in the township of Soweto, originally set up as segregated housing for black people in Johannesburg. We visited the home of Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. We were shown the bullet holes in the walls where he and his family were shot at by the police. The house had also been set on fire but was rebuilt and amazingly, many of the original features, possessions and photographs remain. We then took a short walk to the Hector Pieterson Memorial and were given a talk about the Youth ANC riots which were the catalyst that eventually brought down the apartheid government.
We were then treated to lunch at ‘Chez Alena’ where Alena, a Soweto resident cooked us a fantastic meal. She also taught us a new dance routine to The lions sleep tonight along with other well-known songs. We were impressed by how much energy we had after so little sleep!
Then we moved onto the Apartheid Museum, which was a very thought-provoking experience indeed. We were allocated a ‘colour’ on arrival and had to enter the Museum through a door that was allocated to us. This set the tone for the visit and instigated some really interesting conversations as we headed back to our hotel.
The next day we set off on a four-hour road trip to the Tiger Kloof Educational Institution, in Vryburg where we received a warm welcome from our host, Chris Botma. We were introduced to a wonderful group of Tiger Kloof girls who we spent the evening getting to know with a game of ‘Mafia’ which was enjoyed by all.
Next morning we joined the Tiger Kloof community at church which we found to be very different to the style of worship at Downe House. The Principal had to ask the students (nicely) to stop singing! There was a wonderful atmosphere of praise, celebration and thanks which was very infectious. After church, the girls were given the opportunity to tour the School and prepare for the next few days.
Our work began at Thusanang Disabled Centre the next morning with local people ranging in age from 3 – 47. We all had fun singing songs, playing football, crafting with Play-Doh and magic sand, building towers out of bricks and painting each other’s faces in 38 degree heat!
The next two days at the soup kitchen were tough going, both emotionally and physically. Over 200 young children came for their meals over the two days we worked there. We were told by Chris that, for most of the children, the three meals that the soup kitchen provided would be the only ‘proper’ food that the children would get that week.
We helped prepare the vegetables and cook lunch with some of the Tiger Kloof girls and instructed by a wonderful cook. We sang songs and played football with the children who were pleased to be entertained. It was nice to be able to help put smiles on these young people’s faces as we had seen the settlements where they lived, and most of the homes had no running water, electricity or solid walls.
Our experience was a vivid reminder of the stark inequalities which exist in South Africa and it was clear to see that the communities of Vryburg and Tiger Kloof are key supporters of the education and health of the local children. Many of the Downe House girls bought resources for the school children and the soup kitchen to help the cooks and school teachers do their job.
We were sad to say goodbye to Tiger Kloof, but equally excited for our safari at Pilanesberg National Park. Our hotel was called ‘Bakubung Bush Lodge’ which means ‘the people of the hippo’. We were lucky enough to venture out on several game drives and were to see four of the Big Five. It was a fantastic trip and the Tedworth girls are now even more committed to supporting the amazing work of Tiger Kloof.”
The best way to find out more about Downe House is to experience it for yourself. Book a personal tour or join us at one of our Open Mornings, available throughout the year.Discover