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Students serve poor in Zululand

Catholic students from West Yorkshire mentor youngsters in deprived region of South Africa

By on Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Students at St Mary’s meet young South Africans during their trip

Students at St Mary’s meet young South Africans during their trip

Over the past five years St Mary’s Catholic Comprehensive School in Menston, West Yorkshire, has developed a unique partnership with a school in one of South Africa’s poorest rural areas.

This summer 14 students and four members of staff visited Mnyakanya School in the Nkandla region of KwaZulu-Natal to develop the collaborative work between the two schools and wider community, which is referred to as the Bambisanani Partnership (Bambisanani being the Zulu word for “working hand in hand”).

The visit was led by David Geldart, assistant headteacher and founder of the Bambisanani Partnership, and supported by Lucy Watson from St Mary’s, Peter Latham from Prince Henry’s Grammar School, Otley, and Mick Russell, HSBC Premier manager.

Fourteen sixth form students had prepared for 18 months for the visit. They included: George Brabin, Georgina Byrne, Jamie Carter, Jessica Connolly, Eleanor English, Torquil Hall, Freya Kew, Ciara Hanstock, Harry Minchella, Robert Neesam, Brogan O’Connor, Gemma Pennock, Patrick Smith and Alessandra Valle-Metaxas.

The Nkandla region is in the heart of Zululand and is extremely deprived with 90 per cent unemployment, 60 per cent adult illiteracy and one of the highest HIV/Aids rates in the world with one in three adults infected.

The Bambisanani Partnership has a key focus of using sport as a catalyst to promote education, leadership, health and global understanding.

On this year’s visit the St Mary’s students mentored 20 Mnyakanya students to gain the Bambisanani Leadership Award.