Award Report - Gabriella Wass
I'd like to thank The Lady Eleanor Holles School so much for the kind donation they made to my volunteer work in a children's home called Field of Dreams in Mpumalanga, South Africa last summer. It was the most beautiful, humbling experience of my life and has affected me deeply.
The children are of all ages, from 3 to 20, boys and girls, from orphaned or unsafe homes and many have suffered a great deal. But they are all happy, lively, full of joy and gratitude. The woman who runs the farm/children's home is called Sophie Jardim but is affectionately known by everyone in the local community as “Mummy”. She loves the children with all her heart, makes sure that everyone has somewhere to sleep, and every evening the older girls cook a huge meal from donated food so that everyone in the local community has something to eat.
The poverty levels are very high. Most of the people in the local settlement are unable to find employment and struggle to afford enough food to sustain themselves. In the school, where I taught English every day, most of the children cannot afford books or complete uniform; I recently heard that the school bus has now broken so the children have to walk for about two and a half hours every day to get to and from school. School is especially hard for the children, as there is a serious lack of teachers.
I recently completed my dissertation on hopes and aspirations in relation to education in rural South Africa and have just graduated from Durham University with a first class honours in Anthropology. My time in South Africa has inspired me to study Human Rights as an MA at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in London next year and I cannot wait to begin!
I really cannot express enough gratitude to The Lady Eleanor Holles School for enabling me to experience this life changing place. I think about the children every day and they have completely changed my outlook on life. If you would like to know more about Field of Dreams, are interested in donating money to Sophie to pay for food, medicine and clothes, or would be interested in sponsoring one of the children (I can't start to explain how amazing that would be!) then please do get in contact with me via the school office.
Gabriella Wass, LEH 1999-2006