Giving back at Woodhouse

Dated: 28 June 2021

Geraldine (R) with her mother Tracey 
We are celebrating two more of our Jack Petchey Foundation award winners this week, Geraldine and Max. Two students who, despite their own adversities and obstacles in life, want to help and inspire others.
Student Geraldine has been nominated by her personal tutor, Mr Hassan, who told us...
“Geraldine has, last summer with her mother Tracey, set up a diabetes charity in Rwanda. They’re both extremely passionate about addressing the stigma around diabetes in the Rwandan community and so decided to take action. Being pro-active and serving the community in this way is a fantastic example to others, and will have a long lasting impact on those the charity helps.”
We asked Geraldine about the charity and how she felt about winning the award...
"Following the passing of my Grandad due to complications of type 1 diabetes, and then my own diagnosis, my Mother felt a need to use her experiences and take action. Her idea to set up a charity in order to raise awareness, address stigma and offer support to people inspired and pushed me to join her in this mission.
We travelled to Rwanda, our home country, to visit patients at Muhima Hospital with type 1 diabetes to see and hear about their experiences of living with the condition. Unfortunately, their health insurance only covers the costs of insulin, it doesn’t cover any other essentials such as blood sugar testing kits that are needed for survival, which the majority cannot afford. So far, we’ve been able to support over 15 families so they’re more able to deal with the condition by providing necessary supplies like insurance, food, educating them and advocating for them to be able to access test kits.
The experience made me realise how fortunate I am because our healthcare system in the UK provides the medical and emotional support that’s needed, which makes living with such a condition manageable, whereas this isn’t the case for many young people in Rwanda.
I was quite overwhelmed when I heard I'd won a Jack Petchey award because I was not expecting it at all. I am very grateful to my tutor Mr Hassan for his support, for recognising my efforts and for the nomination because of course I wouldn't have received the award otherwise.
I hope to spend the award money in a way which can help educate others about diabetes and address common misconceptions of the condition. I plan to spend the money either on resources such as books and emergency testing kits or to have an awareness event at college which will hopefully make Woodhouse feel like an even more inclusive environment for all.
My time at Woodhouse has been unforgettable. Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, I’ve still made so many memories, met the most wonderful people and been supported by amazing teachers. All of which has been catalytic to my academic and personal growth over the last two years. I hope to study Industrial Economics at the University of Nottingham this September and continue my work within the charity."
Geraldine's charity webpage -
Languages student Max was nominated for an award by his Spansh teacher, Ms Perez, who said...
"Max is resilient and strives to do his best despite personal adversities and living a long distance from College. He is without doubt one of the most positive and thoughtful students I have taught and his positive approach is an example to us all.
He cheered all of us up during lockdown in our online lessons when pretending to be a radio broadcaster; he played lovely songs during our breaks. He always had his camera on and would wear different hats and sunglasses to make the lesson more enjoyable during those difficult times.
His level of Spanish is impressive, even more so if we take into account he taught himself for GCSE . He supports any student who asks for help. His work ethic is also amazing. Beyond the homework set he will undertake any extra activity proposed. As part of a very competitive writing competition he was the first one to submit a story written in Spanish, which showed his talent in languages.”
We asked Max where he thought his positivity and resilience comes from, and to say the least, were amazed at his incredibly open and honest response. He told us...
"I’ve had a difficult life so far. When I was eight years old, I lost my father, and I moved to Brazil to be with my family. I had to start everything anew, I had to learn Portuguese, make new friends, and cope with the death of my dad... and I managed to do all of that really well.
Then, three years later, my mother was killed in a car crash, and I had to move back to the UK. Again, my life started all over again, and again I overcame the challenges that came with it, including a struggle with my mental health. I think that’s where my resilience comes from. Everything that has happened to me throughout my life has taught me that no matter how far I fall, I can always get back on my feet.
Ever since learning Portuguese, I’ve discovered a passion and an affinity for languages. Spanish is a language that particularly attracts me because of my connection and interest in South American culture as part of my identity.
Winning a Jack Petchey award was completely unexpected, and I am very grateful to my Spanish teacher, Esther Perez, for having nominated me. Winning this award has strengthened my sense of duty to those around me, and has encouraged me to do the best I can to be a force for good to those around me.
I have a couple of ideas for spending the prize money… I’ve asked a lot of people their opinions and have had lots of different answers, including a new water fountain, a pottery wheel, and an aquarium in the Hub. I’m not entirely sure yet, but I like the idea of starting a gardening patch somewhere in the college. Another cause I’d love to spend the money on is the food collection project.
Despite not having had the full experience of the college since I joined, I really love being a part of the community. I’ve met so many wonderful people here, and I’ve learned a lot. I want to study a languages course at Oxford, and then my dream is to do charity work internationally."
You can experience Max's enthusiasm (and humour) in his speech on YouTube when he was runner up at the 2018-19 Jack Petchey Foundation "Speak Out” Challenge! Camden Regional Final with a speech entitled ‘Be Like A Dolphin’

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