We are happy to post this reflection from Sarah Woolard, one of the Westerford High School learners who visited Axium during the winter holidays. Here's what she had to say about the trip:
On Friday 15 June, thirteen excited matric pupils together with Mr Anderson, Mrs Hill and Dr James Nuttall woke early to take a break from the leafy Newlands suburb and leave for an unforgettable trip. Their journey was to join Axium Education for a week of teaching and learning in Zithulele, situated on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape. Founded by Craig and Michelle Paxton, Axium’s vision is to support potential among promising learners attending under-resourced rural schools so that each and every learner can leave school with options and purpose.
Exhausted after a two-day bus journey, we slept soundly, but were woken on the Sunday morning to a sunrise so stunning that many regarded it as one of the highlights of the entire trip. After an exciting game of Ultimate Frisbee with the Wild Coast team, we hiked to Hole in the Wall. Some of us struggled with the walk, but the breathtaking views made the climb completely worthwhile.
On Monday morning, we woke up early to set out on our daily, hour-long walk to the Axium office. The walk allowed us to experience just one of the everyday struggles faced by school learners in rural South Africa, namely transport. Those interested in pursuing a career in Health Sciences were given the incredible opportunity of job shadowing at the impressive Zithulele Hospital. We were able to witness the troubles and triumphs of rural medicine. Others engaged in an exciting (though tiring) day of netball, soccer, Frisbee and rounders with the learners that we would be working with.
Later that day, Dr Ben Gaunt, clinical director of Zithulele Hospital, gave the whole group a guided tour around the hospital. He explained the incredible work that he and his team do on a daily basis, but said that there is still a lot of work to be done so that every South African citizen has access to quality healthcare.
For the next four days, we worked with Axium to assist in their winter bootcamp. Our time was split between working with the Masakhane programme – which focuses on Math and Language, aiding learners in grades six to nine transition into English as their language of instruction – and the Ekukhuleni programme – in which the dedicated Axium teachers provide extra lessons in Maths, Science and English. The aim of both programmes is to help learners achieve the best possible exam results and to set them on the path for a positive future.
We sat in the classes taught by inspiring Axium teachers and helped in any way that we could. Some of us helped with tricky trigonometry equations while others read heart-warming letters from the Ekukhuleni learners and became their pen pals. At first glance, it seemed that we were there to teach the Axium learners, but actually they taught us much more – lessons that we could never learn in a classroom. Between classes we would chat with the pupils about their lives and we would tell them about ours. Stories were shared that many of us will cherish forever.
After an exciting week, we packed up our trailer and headed off on a long journey home, having to say goodbye to our stunning accommodation at Wild Lubanzi Backpackers. It was also farewell to early morning swims in the ocean, greeting locals along our daily journey to school and much more.
We are so grateful to have been given such a wonderful opportunity that allowed us to connect with people, learn and gain a new perspective on the lives that we live. A small part of our hearts will always belong to the Wild Coast.
Thanks, Sarah and all. We are so grateful for the visit and loved having you here. Many thanks also go out to the Westerford community for the amazing fundraising you did, bringing significant contributions along on the trip!