As Volunteer Interns, we worked in two different projects:
- African Angels Independent School in Chintsa
- Gwegwesha Day Care Center in Mzwini
African Angels is a non-profit organization based in Chintsa in the Eastern Cape of South Africa that provides quality primary education to the poorest rural children in the area. The school was created and founded by an act of kindness of Lou Billett, who is originally from Kurrajong, New South Wales.
While on vacation in Chintsa at Buccaneers Backpackers, she met and befriended a woman who did domestic work there. In order to maintain her job, this woman was forced to bring her 1 year old daughter to work with her and Lou fell in love with the child. One day this woman mentioned to Lou that she wished she could afford to provide her daughter with a good education. And like “Make-A-Wish Foundation,” Lou set out to grant her with that wish. She researched the best schools in the area, went to talk with them to see what she needed to do in order to get the child enrolled and implemented them to get her enrolled.
Lou did not stop there. When she returned home, she shared her knowledge about the miseducation of the children in the village and her efforts to help the one child she had come to love. Her friends wanted to join in her efforts; each one wanted to financially sponsor one. Again, Lou made that happen by creating “Sponsor An Angel;” http://www.sponsoranangel.org/. She began finding children from the village and matching them with one of her sponsoring friends; this including tuition fees and transportation fees.
As always, whenever someone tries to do good, evil is always around and a problem arose with the transportation Lou and her friends were using to get the children to school. This problem only ignited a resilient Lou, who decided, “Well, we will just have to teach these children ourselves.” On January 16, 2012 African Angels Independent School opened with two classes; Grade R and a combined class of Grades 1 and 2!
Today the school has Grades R, 1, 2 and 3.
The one child that Lou originally set out to help is named Akha and she is currently a 3rd grade student at the school.
Sharon Edworthy is one of the original teachers, currently teaches Grade 2 and functions as the principal of the school.
Note: Instead of addressing adults as Mr. and Ms./Mrs., they are required to use Aunty and Uncle (i.e. Aunty Sharon, Aunty Amber, Aunty Jaimee, Aunty Nisha); I was called Aunty Dee.
Our group of eight were split in two groups, with one group working at African Angels for a week, while the other group worked at Gwegwesha. The next week we would alternate. I began the first week, along with Amber, Jaimee and Nisha, working as Teacher Aides at African Angels.
Jaimee was assigned to work in Grade R with Aunty Cristi;
Nisha was assigned to Grade 1 with Aunty Sharon;
Amber was assigned to Grade 2 with Aunty Tristan;