2017/2018 winners reports


Kenya - Shona Galloway

12th Feb 2018

Dear Mr Mason,

I write to you from the verandah of our small home in Kwale, Kenya, on a very hot day. We have been here for almost six weeks now and have been enjoying every minute.

We live in a house (rented from a local family) of six people and teach in pairs at the local schools. I teach at Vingujini Primary along with Kyla, who is 20 years old and from a fishing town in Alaska.

We work with the Year 4's and 5's mostly, who are all aged somewhere between 8 and 15. One of my favourite classes is 5 Yellow who I am currently teaching prime numbers to - they are catching on quickly despite the language barrier! The children here are very disciplined and experience a very different education system than the one I grew up in. They never ask questions and will always answer 'yes' when asked if they understand. I have been trying to assure them that they are allowed to ask me questions when they are unsure of something, and this has been paying off as they are starting to show more engagement. As I'm sure you will know, it is a great feeling when a learner who has been struggling finally reaches the correct answer.

We have been making friends with the teachers and learning more about their way of life, as well as getting to know individual students. We take part in the weekly assemblies, which are always filled with song, and take many of the classes for PE whenever we can as the other teachers don't tend to take their PE classes. In the community we have gotten to know many of the market traders near our home and the 'boda boda' drivers who take us to school everyday by motorbike, and have so far attended two weddings, one of which we ended up DJ-ing at!

Thus far it is proving to be an invaluable experience that I hope will never end. I would like to extend my thanks again to the Bulkeley Evans Award for helping to make this trip possible.

I hope everything is well with you, please find attached a few photos of our time so far.

Many thanks,


Shona Galloway

 

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South Africa - Annabel Bainbridge

11th April 2018

Dear Mr Mason,

 

I hope that you have had a lovely Easter!
I have been living in Zithulele for over two months now and am having a really fascinating time.

 

Zithulele village is centred around Zithulele Hospital and is very remote with the nearest town (Mtatha) over an hour away. The Oliver Tambo District, in which the hospital lies, is one of the poorest rural areas in South Africa and unemployment is at 38%. As a result, the village is also home to a number of charitable organisations ranging from Axium, a charity providing after school lessons to local students with potential, to Grace Vision, an NGO screening and treating a variety of eye conditions. This leads to a very interesting dynamic between the local and NGO communities as the notion of integration is constantly considered and striven for.

 

I am spending most of my mornings working alongside local teachers in the village preschool. I often lead the morning circle before working with smaller groups of children on different activities such as introductions to numeracy. A Montessori curriculum is being gradually introduced into the school and most of the teachers have just completed their qualification for this. I have also been spending time in the Independent School, initially established as a retention strategy for long term hospital and NGO staff. At the school, I have been teaching English, maths and music to students aged from 5 to 8. 
My afternoons are divided between giving piano lessons and the library, where children attend every afternoon to participate in a range of craft activities. Recently, we have been cataloguing the library books using the Dewey decimal system in order to prepare local students for this system at university.

 

My timetable is very varied so whilst my project is based around music and English in early education, I have also had the opportunity to work with some of the teachers on English language and IT skills as well as visit local homes to talk to mothers about how to educate their children. In addition, I have spent time reading with children on the paediatric ward at Zithulele hospital and have helped organise a spelling competition for local schools!

 

I live in a house with four other Project Trust volunteers. The house is owned by Jabulani Rural Health Foundation, the charity I work for, but is rented from the Church due to its placement on Mission land. We can walk to Lubanzi beach and have already spent weekends at Coffee Bay, Hole in the Wall and Mtatha!
In the next few months, I am hoping to improve my Xhosa in order to communicate more effectively with my students and to play a more active role in planning and giving lessons in the Preschool and library.

 

Thank you so much for your ongoing support of my project. I look forward to updating you further with news of my time here!

 

Best wishes,

 

Annabel

 

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South Africa - Mia Noquet

29th Jan 2018

Dear Mr Mason, 

Firstly, I would like to say thank you as without the support of the Bukeley Evans HMC Scholarship Fund, I would not have raised the funds required to currently be fulfilling my year overseas with Project Trust. 

I thought I would get in touch to give you an update of what I have been up to since arriving in South Africa last September. 

I was placed by Project at Helen Bishop Home in Kimberley. This is a city, in the middle of the *desert and temperatures reach the 40s, which can be quite a difficult climate to work in. Though, I could not imagine being anywhere else. The residents of the home range between 7 months and 33 years, all of whom have a severe disability (mainly cereal palsy or spina bifida). Most of the children are orphaned, or have been placed here through the courts, but there are around 10 who still have a family presence in their lives. I feel the work I am doing is more beneficial for both the children and myself than I would ever have expected.  

My work day starts at 7am, every Monday - Friday. I feed around 3/4 children each morning, and the same again at lunch. At first, this was a big challenge as there is varying abilities amongst each individual, so a lot of patience and care is required. That said, now the care giving aspect of the volunteering I do, is one of my favourites. This side also includes daily toothbrushing and some personal care throughout the day. The bulk of my day is made up of 3 sessions. Usually consisting of; 1 in the classroom where I work one to one with a child on basic skills, this ranges from working on hand grip and eye movement to numbers/colours; another session takes place in the “snoozel room”, which is designed to stimulate senses with a variety of textures, sounds and lights; the third session rotates daily between taking children to the garden, hydrobaths or on the therapy horse. 

The Home is relatively well funded, and the facilities are excellent versus what one may of expected. Though, Helen Bishop is very understaffed and there are almost 60 children (only around 12 of whom can independently move themselves around), meaning time for one to one development and support is very low. As a volunteer, my role really focuses on giving the children attention that they wouldn’t ordinarily receive. My three fellow volunteers and I are responsible for making sure each and every resident gets the time and opportunity to progress that they deserve. 

I can pin point two stand out moments in my year so far. Firstly, I have been working with a 2 year old boy who when I arrived was known for looking very grumpy, all the time. His disability seemed to impact his ability to communicate in any way, bar crying. I have spent countless sessions in the snoozel room with this boy, and have noticed massive progress, as have other members of staff. Now, he smiles and seems to recognise people better than ever before, this could be due to his own personal development, though without the extra attention I have been able to facilitate, staff do not believe he would have come as far as he has in this time. Another highlight has to be working with a 14 year old boy on writing his name. When I arrived, he was not attending school (only 8 of the children here do), due to an operation and within the first couple of months he has practiced endlessly and now has overcome this struggle. This boy has also started attending school again, which is a massive opportunity to explore further his capabilities. 

My role here at Helen Bishop is that of a teacher, career, friend and sibling to these children. I feel living on site means we are an extra layer of support, at all times. Whilst also giving me the chance to really understand what it is like for the residents, and how aspects of the health and care systems here in South Africa work. The positive impact the work we are doing here is really endless, as every win no matter how small, is actually a massive one. For these children, what seem like the most simple of tasks/movements/skills to most are the ones we are here to help develop and thrive, and in reality this support can be life changing. 

I would like to thank you once again for your generosity, and for aiding me to gain this invaluable life experience. I cannot put into words how rewarding my time so far has been, and I am sure it will continue to be. 

Regards, 

Mia Noquet 

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Vietnam

Dear sir, 

I'm writing to you to give you an update on my travels so far, and to thank you again for giving me the scholarship, which has been a huge help so far!

I have now reached my final few days volunteering in Vietnam, and I leave to go travelling in the south on Wednesday. So far this has been the most incredible experience of my life! I started my journey in Nepal, where I lived in a Buddhist Nunnery and taught English to young monks. Nepal is an incredible country, however it is desperately poor, with more than one quarter of the population living below the poverty line, and everywhere you looked, buildings were still being repaired from the disastrous earthquake two years ago. Compared to a very high number of the general population, the nuns are very fortunate. They get fed amazing Nepali food three times a day (and a sweet snack at tea time!) and live in good conditions in the nunnery. However, most of the children are there because their parents either did not want them, or were simply too poor to look after them. Therefore since the other volunteers and I lived in the monastery, we became much more than teachers to them, and spent lots of time playing, singing, dancing and eating with them. I honestly think this was as big a part of the volunteering as the teaching itself. 

In regards to the teaching; it's safe to say it was a challenge! Although the children loved going to class, and would ask every morning if they were having it, they were very difficult to control! Since the nuns don't really have a mother figure as such, they need to be very stubborn to get what they want, when constantly competing with the other girls. In any other situation, I would say this was an admirable quality, but when everyone is arguing over one blue crayon, things get a bit more tricky! Amongst the girls there was a huge range of age and abilities. The youngest girl was called Chindo, and she was only 4 years old! I have to admit she was the most incredible 4 year old I've ever met! And more independent than every some of my friends! She, just like all the others, had to wash her own bowl and cup after meals, clean her room, and even hand wash her own clothes (washing machines aren't common in Nepal). The oldest of our pupils was around 16. There were 3 different classes, and I alternated between teaching the nursery (/ children with minimal English) class, and the middle class, where the youngest was 7 and the oldest 12, and the ability ranged from being barely able to identify shapes, to some being able to hold a decent conversation. I would definitely say the younger class was the most challenging as they had pretty much no English, and we had no Nepali , communicating ideas was incredibly difficult! We mainly focused on teaching them colours, animals and basic foods, such as fruits. A lot of the time we did colouring in and singing and dancing with them, since a lot of them were so young! They also would wander off during classes! You'd turn your back on a class of 10, and turn back to find a class of 6 remaining! This was one of the main problems of having class outside!! However, when you did manage to find, explain and get them to concentrate on an activity, it was a very rewarding experience.

The middle class were much easier to teach, and given their more advanced level of English, they were able to follow activities very well, even though there's no denying they were still very hard to control! This class needed much more structure, and every morning because class began, we would have to lesson plan. Since none of us had any teaching experience, it was a process of trial and error, however we made real progress and came up with fun ways to teach slightly more advanced things like body parts, directions, and more difficult shapes. I was very sorry to leave teaching, and the nuns behind me. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Immediately from the nunnery, I was met by the trekking company who I was travelling with. I can easily say that without a doubt the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek to Annapurna Base Camp was the most amazing thing I've ever done. It was truly phenomenal, to the extent where I can't even put it to words. I'm so glad I had the chance to experience it. It's something I'll never forget. 

After my two week trek, I left Nepal for Vietnam. Although originally I was supposed to be teaching English in Vietnam as well, when I got to Hanoi I was assigned a childcare project since that is where they most needed people. I lived in a house with about 20 other volunteers which was owned by a local NGO called The Centre for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS) who sent volunteers to support various teaching, childcare, NGO or hospital placements to volunteer and help anyway possible. I was working at the Centre for the Future of Autistic Children. It would be lying to say that working at the centre wasn't a challenge at times as the children we helped were severely autistic, and the culture of childcare is very different to back in the UK. We mainly played with the children, helped with basic skills, helped with feeding the children at meal times and provided general support to the permanent staff. Since many of them had minimal communication skills, and little to no speech, there were admittedly times where we were frustrated at not being able to do more to help. However, I strongly believe that the kindness and affection that we showed the children, which is lacking in childcare in Vietnam, truly brought joy and happiness to the children. I'm so thankful for the money I received towards my trip, as it more or less covered the cost of my project in Vietnam, which was so amazing. 

After leaving the project, I will travel the length of the east coast in just over two weeks with another girl, who I met whilst volunteering in Nepal. We're starting in Phu Quoc, where I will spend my 19th birthday! Then we plan to go to Ho Chi Minh, Mui Ne, Dalat, Hoi An, Hue, and finally back to Hanoi. I'm so excited to be travelling, but I'm sad about leaving the volunteer house and my project as I know I'll miss the amazing friends I've made, and the children at the project who I had a really great bond with. 

 I want to thank you again for your support, it genuinely made a significant impact on my trip and helped me have some experiences that will stay with me forever. 

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South Africa - Mia Noquet

29th Jan 2018

Dear Mr Mason, 

Firstly, I would like to say thank you as without the support of the Bukeley Evans HMC Scholarship Fund, I would not have raised the funds required to currently be fulfilling my year overseas with Project Trust. 

I thought I would get in touch to give you an update of what I have been up to since arriving in South Africa last September. 

I was placed by Project at Helen Bishop Home in Kimberley. This is a city, in the middle of the *desert and temperatures reach the 40s, which can be quite a difficult climate to work in. Though, I could not imagine being anywhere else. The residents of the home range between 7 months and 33 years, all of whom have a severe disability (mainly cereal palsy or spina bifida). Most of the children are orphaned, or have been placed here through the courts, but there are around 10 who still have a family presence in their lives. I feel the work I am doing is more beneficial for both the children and myself than I would ever have expected.  

My work day starts at 7am, every Monday - Friday. I feed around 3/4 children each morning, and the same again at lunch. At first, this was a big challenge as there is varying abilities amongst each individual, so a lot of patience and care is required. That said, now the care giving aspect of the volunteering I do, is one of my favourites. This side also includes daily toothbrushing and some personal care throughout the day. The bulk of my day is made up of 3 sessions. Usually consisting of; 1 in the classroom where I work one to one with a child on basic skills, this ranges from working on hand grip and eye movement to numbers/colours; another session takes place in the “snoozel room”, which is designed to stimulate senses with a variety of textures, sounds and lights; the third session rotates daily between taking children to the garden, hydrobaths or on the therapy horse. 

The Home is relatively well funded, and the facilities are excellent versus what one may of expected. Though, Helen Bishop is very understaffed and there are almost 60 children (only around 12 of whom can independently move themselves around), meaning time for one to one development and support is very low. As a volunteer, my role really focuses on giving the children attention that they wouldn’t ordinarily receive. My three fellow volunteers and I are responsible for making sure each and every resident gets the time and opportunity to progress that they deserve. 

I can pin point two stand out moments in my year so far. Firstly, I have been working with a 2 year old boy who when I arrived was known for looking very grumpy, all the time. His disability seemed to impact his ability to communicate in any way, bar crying. I have spent countless sessions in the snoozel room with this boy, and have noticed massive progress, as have other members of staff. Now, he smiles and seems to recognise people better than ever before, this could be due to his own personal development, though without the extra attention I have been able to facilitate, staff do not believe he would have come as far as he has in this time. Another highlight has to be working with a 14 year old boy on writing his name. When I arrived, he was not attending school (only 8 of the children here do), due to an operation and within the first couple of months he has practiced endlessly and now has overcome this struggle. This boy has also started attending school again, which is a massive opportunity to explore further his capabilities. 

My role here at Helen Bishop is that of a teacher, career, friend and sibling to these children. I feel living on site means we are an extra layer of support, at all times. Whilst also giving me the chance to really understand what it is like for the residents, and how aspects of the health and care systems here in South Africa work. The positive impact the work we are doing here is really endless, as every win no matter how small, is actually a massive one. For these children, what seem like the most simple of tasks/movements/skills to most are the ones we are here to help develop and thrive, and in reality this support can be life changing. 

I would like to thank you once again for your generosity, and for aiding me to gain this invaluable life experience. I cannot put into words how rewarding my time so far has been, and I am sure it will continue to be. 

Regards, 

Mia Noquet 

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South Africa

I hope that you are well and are enjoying the British Summer sun! 

Despite marking the Winter Solstice with a bonfire and the sun setting by 5.30 pm, winter in the Eastern Cape feels very comparable to a British summer. However a recent spate of power cuts has made us hugely grateful for hot water bottles and industrial quantities of candles.

I have continued to divide my time between the plethora of educational projects in Zithulele, ranging from making paper crowns to illustrate ‘Europe’ in Pre School, to helping to teach NGO employees about recent developments in national child protection policies. In the Independent School, I recently choreographed a routine for the Grade 1-3s to perform with their homemade pillbox shakers for the Zithulele Talent Show. This they executed very enthusiastically despite the difficulty in hearing the words to ‘Waka waka’ by Shakira owing to the faulty speaker connection!

In addition to doing some infection-reducing filing in the Maternity Ward and walking over the hills to do craft activities in a neighbouring Pre-School, I helped to organise the NGO-led sports day in celebration of Youth Day on June 16. Youth Day is a South African public holiday that commemorates the Soweto Uprising of 1976, in which students protesting against Afrikaans being the medium of instruction in local schools were met with fierce police brutality. It is a day of huge celebration across South Africa and was marked in Zithulele with a range of chess, Frisbee and Touch Rugby tournaments.

Outside of work hours, my friends and I have been helping to fundraise for the ‘Miss Zithulele’ pageant to be held in early August. So far, our movie night showings of ‘The BFG’ and ‘Black Panther’ have been very successful, despite managing to melt our plastic popcorn pans and burn the muffin mix. Self-proclaimed as ‘Team Useless’, we are trying hard to live up to the title.

Our misfounded faith in our immune systems was exposed a couple of weeks ago as four out of five members of our house were taken down with ailments ranging from E. Coli to pharyngitis. However, early nights and cups of tea, combined with the luxury of living next to a hospital mean that croaky voices are all that remain of one of our more challenging weeks.

At the end of May, the other Project Trust volunteers and I had the opportunity to spend time on safari in Botswana where the excitement of the accumulating stamps on our passports was exceeded only by the stunning sight of cheetahs on our way into Madikwe Game Reserve. We subsequently made our way to Swaziland for Bushfire Festival for four nights of cold camping but incredible music. Despite spending longer travelling on buses than at our destinations, and becoming honorary residents of Park Station in Johannesburg, we had a hugely enjoyable and rewarding time away.

Returning to Zithulele and being reunited with our colleagues and students was one of the highlights of the whole trip as we were bombarded with questions ranging from ‘How big is a lion?’ to ‘Why did you buy so many avocados?’!

I have been hugely fortunate to have also spent the past week in Cape Town where I have enjoyed trips to Cape Point, Table Mountain and Robben Island - in addition to relishing the luxury of coffee shops and food markets within 90 minutes drive!

With just over a month left in Zithulele, I have been reflecting on the whole new life I have lived in last five months and the speed at which the time here has flown. I expect that it will only be on my return to the UK that I will appreciate fully all that I have learned.

I am returning to Zithulele on Monday to spend my final 5 weeks in South Africa and look forward to updating you again after my return to the UK on the 12th of August!

 

Very best wishes,

 

Annabel

 

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