April 21, 2017
Connecting with Our South African Sisters
The word “Lalitha” means “the light” in isiXhosa, a language used primarily in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is also the name of a daycare centre located in that region, where Branksome students spent time during their March service trip to South Africa.
This is the 13th year that Branksome students, along with four faculty members, have ventured more than 10,000 miles away to participate in the Triangle of Hope program—a Leacock Foundation initiative between Branksome Hall, Rose Avenue Public School and QGAP in Queenstown, South Africa. It’s a big trip, the farthest many of the 16 students have ever travelled.
“Before we left most of us were worried that we would not be able to connect with our South African sisters,” says Grade 11 Claire Waldie during an emotional presentation attended by parents, students, employees, as well as the South African Consul General, Mr. Nyameko Goso, and the Executive Director of The Stephen Leacock Foundation, Kristine Gaston. “However, once we met our sisters, everything changed.”
The trip to South Africa is often life-changing for many of the students who participate. “I used to think that change was only important on a large scale. But now I know that small changes are just as important. Making one person’s day a bit better is just as meaningful,” says another student.
Dana McAuley shared a story about a letter she wrote in Grade 4 to QGAP and how, this year, the recipient of the letter showed her what she had written. “She had saved it for seven years and remembered my favourite colour!”
“I used to think of the world as vast and anonymous,” adds another girl. “But now I know the world is really made up of a series of small, intimate human interactions.”
Branksome students donated stuffed animals to the kids in the Lalitha Daycare and school supplies for the QGAP students. The two-week trip was spent teaching, learning and even travelling through a game park, but what the students focused on most was the importance of the connections they made with their sisters and the community.