Guest Blog: Cara Herselman Discovers Wonder-Filled Learning in Hazyview

To be quite honest, my time at Good Work Foundation (GWF) started with a slight sense of trepidation; my previous Hazyview experience hadn’t been all that great and I was terrified of a repeat. However, within the first ten minutes of arrival, it was clear that all my fears were unfounded and that I was going to learn things that I could not have imagined; about myself and in the context of my studies.

I arrived on a Monday morning, with my whole family plus our caravan in tow – we’d just come out of the Kruger National Park after a week and my parents were dropping me off on their way back to Pretoria. I was to stay for two weeks as part of my mandatory eight-week internship I needed to complete for my studies. Right off the bat, we were welcomed with wide smiles and open arms before heading off with Accolade Ubisi, GWF’s Group Coordinator Media and Communication, and Linky Nkuna who is the Head of the Hazyview Campus, for the ‘campus tour’ and an in-depth explanation of what exactly it is that the GWF does. It was during this tour that I started realizing what an absolute gem the GWF is to the surrounding community and how important the work they do is.

The first thing that became very clear to me was how GWF empowers women: three of their four campus heads are women as well as over 70% of their staff and students. This is especially important, given the strong patriarchal culture within the community. By empowering these women, and teaching them the skills to support themselves and their families, we are helping these women help themselves.

Many women in rural areas are unable to escape their situations as they do not have the skills to find jobs or the means in which to earn a living wage, they are therefore trapped by their circumstances and dependent on others for survival. However, GWF has found a way to help these young women to ensure a better life for themselves and the many family members usually dependent on them. By teaching them skills that are useful in the industries in the immediate area, such as hospitality and conservation, these women become equipped with the means to earn a living without having to move to the urban areas.

This too is incredibly important for the development of the community as well as the families of those going off to work. Urbanisation is a major stumbling block for many in rural areas, where the breadwinner often has to live far away from their family in order to earn enough to support them. Between working hours and the cost of travel, it becomes increasingly difficult for the working individual to come home and see their people. By ensuring that graduates of the Hazyview Digital Learning Campus are able to find jobs locally, not only is GWF benefiting the local industries by training qualified locals, but they are making a difference to everyone dependent on the wage of the graduate.

The work done by the GWF however extends beyond their programmes offered to high school graduates. The Open Learning Academy is certainly one of the most innovative and creative ways of bringing educational equality into the rural areas. One of the biggest challenges faced by children in rural communities is not a lack of skill, knowledge or intelligence but rather circumstance and a lack of opportunity. Children going to school in rural communities don’t have the same exposure to technology as those in the cities do. Furthermore, the lack of resources in these areas mean classrooms are overcrowded, schools underfunded and teachers completely out of their depth when it comes to teaching certain subjects.

The Open Learning Academy gives these schoolchildren a chance to change their circumstances in such a fun and positive way, that most of the time I forgot that we were there to improve our math and English rather than just playing games. The use of tablets and computers to aid the learning process not only makes it more fun for these kids, many of whom have probably never had the chance to work with a computer before, but also provides them with valuable technological skills and computer literacy.

Furthermore, the facilitators just have an unrivalled energy when working with the kids that sparks a true flare of gratitude that there are people out there that work so selflessly day in and day out to make a true difference to the community around them.

It is this commitment to improving and empowering their community that really inspired me during my time at the GWF. I was fortunate enough to get to spend time with all the different programmes run by the GWF, and I can say in all honesty that it is impossible for me to pick a favourite. Whether it was helping the OLA grade fours with their math troubles, teaching an English class to the Bridging Academy students, pretending to have even an inkling of understanding during the ICT Academy’s programming class or playing football with the Coaching 4 Conservation group in the brutal Lowveld sun, I was welcomed with open arms and smiling faces every time.

It was here that I learnt the true meaning of community spirit and saw what a difference circumstance and opportunity can make in one’s life. It was during these two weeks that I came to realise that the probability to bring enrichment to the lives of others is not determined by what you are willing to teach them but by what you are willing to learn from them.

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From left to right: GWF Group Coordinator Media and Communication Accolade Ubisi, Heleen Herselman (Cara’s mother), Cara Herselman and Hazyview Digital Learning Campus Head Linky Nkuna. Cara arrived at the Hazyview Digital Learning Camus for her two weeks internship and rotated around the different campuses to get an all rounder experience.

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Cara discovers wonder-filled learning with the Open Learning Academy students at the Hazyview Digital Learning Campus.

Cara joined the Open Learning Team when they visited one of the schools that outsource their digital learning to GWF. On this day, Cara and the team did a rhino conservation lesson called Coaching For Conservation or C4C, where the kids learn through a game of soccer and songs.

Cara joined the Open Learning Team when they visited one of the schools that outsource their digital learning to GWF. On this day, Cara and the team did a rhino conservation lesson called Coaching For Conservation or C4C, where the kids learn through a game of soccer and songs.

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It is one of our traditions at GWF, that every volunteer and guest has their photo taken under the Digital Tree of Knowledge, and Cara had her turn on heritage with some of the team members at the Hazyview Campus.

Written by GWF Volunteer Cara Herselman.

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