Woodhouse Plus in South Africa

Dated: 11 September 2019

One of the most pioneering of last years Woodhouse Plus activities was an international community project. Students, under the guidance of Biology teacher Linda Doyle, engaged in numerous fund-raising quizzes, fetes, bake sales and more across the year, in order to fund their trip to South Africa.
Student Connie Hajipanayi reported back to us on how the trip went...  
"In June 2019, 15 ambitious students collectively fundraised enough money to travel to South Africa for a community project. After a very long and tiring journey, we arrived in Johannesburg before travelling across the country to the beautiful Blyde River Canyon situated in the Limpopo province, where we would aim to help the lives of some of their primary school children, by building playgrounds for them.
We spent two days building the structures from locally sourced materials, with the help of some builders from a nearby agricultural hub. We then spent the next couple of days mounting the frames and structures at the primary schools.
We were very popular with the local children and spent a lot of time, in between digging holes and gluing parts, playing with them. We found that with the difficult language barrier, football and dancing were universal and became a favourite way of communicating.
At the end of all our hard work, we attended opening ceremonies at each of the two schools, this brought important members of the community such as the mayor, principal of the school, its students and their parents with Woodhouse students and staff together. It was hugely rewarding to see the impact of our hard work and the students loved their new playgrounds! The principal thanked us deeply, saying how his students will now be more excited to come to school, which will develop their education and quality of life. The team working with us were amazing and none of this would be possible without them, they will be greatly missed and we all hope to see them again one day.
Throughout our stay in Limpopo we took part in lots of activities including swimming (even in the same river as hippos!), volleyball, obstacle courses, and traditional South African games at the adventure camp we stayed in. There, we also had opportunities to cook and eat authentic food of the country.  
One of my favourite experiences however was visiting a cultural village where we watched an outdoor live performance depicting the origins of the people of Limpopo, it was both funny and extremely interesting. The performers taught us traditional dance of the time, before serving us delicious local delicacies.
After a sad goodbye to all the children from the primary schools, we departed from the Blyde River Canyon and headed for the Kruger National Park.
It was here we went on a safari both at sunset and sunrise searching for ‘the big five’ - lions, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant. We also also saw cheetahs, giraffes and zebras, and at the camp, there were monkeys wandering around outside our doors stealing our food!
On our last night, we cooked a South African braai (barbecue) in the nature reserve as a last meal where we thanked all of our teachers, especially Mrs Doyle who worked tirelessly to make this trip possible. Thanks to her, we now have established relationships with our partners in South Africa to continue our work there and help as much as we can. I hope we made her proud with all of our hard work and dedication as we are all so grateful for the opportunity she gave us. All of the fundraising was genuinely worth it, the memories made in South Africa will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Although it was quite difficult to see children in absolute poverty, I am glad I was able to do what I could to help, while learning about their culture which I can now share with my family and friends. My trip to South Africa was truly an unforgettable experience."
Connie Hajipanayi
Many thanks to Ms Doyle, and also to Assistant Principal Curriculum - Mr Thompson who accompanied the trip and supplied these photos. 

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