Written by: Ilma Roux
Ilma Roux worked for The Leacock Foundation in 2014, as the Marketing Manager based out of Queenstown, South Africa. She contributed many great things to Get Ahead and to Leacock, and wrote this wonderful, reflective blog post about the inspiration she felt while there.
Early morning and a weak African sun breaks through the trees and fields as I turn left onto Faraday Road, which will take me to the Get Ahead Project. I see red and blue bursts of students cutting through the fields, which are still frosted from the night before. Cattle & goats share the footpaths leading to the school and I can see by the brisk walks, white vapour, and body language –shoulders tight, hands in pockets – that the cold is hurrying them to class. Like watching a movie from the inside of my heated car, I drive past them, determined to make a change today.
Many of these students face a different reality each day. Some are orphaned, living alone. Some are living with relatives, as parents have gone to the big city to find work. Students travel to school from far away villages and often have to make the choice: buy bread or use money for bus fare.
The smiles I see and the laughter I hear at Get Ahead is inspiring. After school students dedicate their time to the soccer grounds, merely a square of dirt with makeshift goalposts. They play with all their hearts & souls, many in school shoes and school uniform as there is simply not money for sport clothes & equipment. The Get Ahead students turn their faces to the sun, shining youth grasping to the hope of a bright future. Yet, in these students shines a light so positive, you cannot help but believe they are going to make it in this world. They walk with faith: today will be a good day.
Working with the Leacock Foundation created a platform for me to make a difference. The wonderful, dedicated Canadian staff and volunteers, the teachers at GAP, we all want to make a difference. I was having this discussion with some of the staff here at Get Ahead College a few days ago… we were wondering how some of these students survive in the living conditions many of them have to endure. How can they still come to school, every day, clean, bright, and positive? One teacher said, after a long pause:
“It is because at school they feel loved.”