Guest Blog: Follow the Journey Your Heart Takes You On

“Where a man feels at home, outside of where he’s born, is where he’s meant to go.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway wrote that in 1935 and I believe it’s true and that fate plays a role in each person’s life and has a way of leading you where you are meant to be.

In 2013, while on my first trip to South Africa, I heard about Good Work Foundation (GWF) and their mission to provide world class education to the millions of people living in rural parts of South Africa. What began with only a banana barn and a dream back in 2008, became a fully functioning Hazyview Digital Learning Campus. As of 2017, the Good Work Foundation has now expanded to four campuses reaching annually to thousands of children and adults living in remote communities. With access to digital learning, it further provides many opportunities for the students in a world that is becoming increasingly more advanced in digital technology.

And so, somewhere in the back of my mind a seed was planted — one day I would come back and visit this amazing place and learn more about GWF.

The next four years was a time of realizations for me, of changes that needed to be made, reawakening’s of what was still to come, and a sense that there was something that I needed to do, somewhere that I needed to be. The seed that had been planted four years previously came to the forefront and plans started to fall into place to return to South Africa, to spend time with and learn more about GWF.

Sure, I had followed GWF’s blog on a regular basis and read about the Digital Learning Centre and the team there, the challenges, the many successes and the ongoing plans for the future, but I wanted to really know this place and these amazing people. I wanted to go there and contribute in any way that I could, if that was possible… and so the plans fell into place.

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Jill Larone with our team under the tree.

The day finally arrived and I stepped out of the car to get my first glimpse of this place that I had heard so much about. It was such an incredible feeling to finally be there! I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to contribute anything of value, but I was so excited and happy to be there and ready to help in any way possible.

The days flew by and over the next two weeks I learnt many things — about myself, and about this wonderful group of people, who opened their campus, their lives and their hearts to me and truly made me feel like I was a part of the GWF family.

Every day I saw this amazing team of people come together to support each other, respect each other, and demonstrate a joyful way of teaching and create a learning environment completely different from the traditional text book and chalk way of teaching.

Every morning I would watch the children bouncing happily up the walkway into the barn, so excited to be there and to learn.

Every day I saw a team of people, passionate in their teaching, come together to make this magical place a reality and the dream of education for the most rural communities in South Africa come true.

On my last day at GWF I reflected on my time there and knew that I was fortunate to have been able to spend this time in this place of Ubuntu – I am because of all of you, and I am definitely a better person because of the time I spent with you. GWF became a reality because of the vision, perseverance, desire and passion to provide access to education and learning, and consequently, the opportunity to change the lives of those living in rural communities who might otherwise not have had that opportunity. However, it is built on the love, respect, support and care that each GWF team member shows to each other on a daily basis and absolutely demonstrates people who are following the journey that their heart has led them on.

Thank you to Kate, Gogo, Maria and the entire extraordinary team at the Good Work Foundation, as well as all the students, for allowing me this time with you!

Much love,

Jill

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