“An Inspiring Journey: Justicia to Boston”

About two years ago, I met Charlie and Toby Milner at Madlala High School in Justicia; they have been working in the area for 16 years, teaching preschool and primary school teachers and also running a literacy project in Lillydale. Toby, a teacher by profession (or one can say by birth) is a Wheelock College (Boston, Massachusetts) alumni.

A year ago, Charlie and Toby came to Madlala and asked me whether I would mind joining them for dinner in Hazyview where they were meeting with post graduate students from Wheelock College. They said it would be nice for the students to hear about Good Work Foundation (GWF) and the work we are doing.

Those who know me really well know how much I love food and talking, even better I had to talk about Good Work Foundation (GWF); of course I said yes, absolutely! The Wheelock students were in our area doing a study. They wanted to know how many school learners applied to universities or tertiary institutions, how do they apply, what do they want to study, and are there resources in the schools, etc.?

Madlala was one of the schools they interviewed, and I believe this gave them an opportunity to see the work on the ground and hear from the learners themselves. The following day they went to our Hazyview campus and as Toby Milner said “it is obvious GWF and Wheelock must work together.”

Three months later, I received an email inviting me to Boston to be a guest speaker at the International Education week at Wheelock College. I remember opening my email and quickly closing it because I thought my eyes were deceiving me.

Then began the journey and its main reason was for me to visit Wheelock College and an opportunity to share GWF’s story with the students, which will then lead to a five-six weeks internship for one lucky student at Lillydale Literacy Project, Justicia and Hazyview Digital Learning Campuses. The internsip is sponsored by Charlie and Toby.

This was my second trip to Boston in America and it was amazing; I even had the opportunity to meet the incredible author Linda Davies whom I aspire to grow up to be like one day.

Wheelock’s Lenette Lessing, a clinical social worker, administrator and policy advocate, is one of the most remarkable women whose work I respect and cherish. Seeing her once again was a gift. Hearing the excitement in her voice about her next visit to South Africa and GWF was humbling. Spending time with her students sharing and learning from each other was simply amazing.

One professor was so overwhelmed after hearing our story and wanted to know why we do it? I told him why not, and if we don’t do it then who will? These are our young people, the future of our country and we need to do everything in our power to ensure they have a better future. We believe that futures start with education. Hearing him ask this question made me realise for the first time how important our work is. I had a rare opportunity to see GWF through their eyes and I must admit, from where they stand it is quite overwhelming.

One evening we went to the Kennedy Library and Museum to attend the 2016 Passion for Action Leadership Awards and there I met Kennedy Odede. Him and his wife Jessica Posner co-founded Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) as brief as the meeting was, it had a lasting impression on me, even more so after reading his book Find Me Unafraid. I love his work so much that the only thing I dream about of late is going to Kibera, Kenya.

On my first trip to America in 2014 I had the pleasure of meeting incredible young leaders from our beautiful continent. I am constantly inspired by them and they will forever be part of my life.

I couldn’t help but think GWF and SHOFCO are in a similar mission, amongst other things we are both challenging – HOW we learn, WHAT we learn and WHO has access to learning.

 

From left to right: Toby Miller, Kennedy Odede. Linky Nkuna and Linda Davis. This photo was taken when the group went to visit Wheelock College in Boston.

From left to right: Toby Miller, Kennedy Odede. Linky Nkuna and Linda Davis. This photo was taken when the group went to visit Wheelock College in Boston during Linky’s recent visit.

Written by MDLC coordinator Linky Nkuna.

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