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Students interact with poor children and their families

31/01/2013: South Africa

Five years ago, three St Henry’s Marist College alumni travelled to the Sundays River Valley, in the Eastern Cape, to help run a summer camp organised by the Marist Brothers and Sisters of Mercy. Since then we interacted with hundreds of children from the formal and informal settlements in the Addo area teaching them sport, computer skills, cooking, arts and crafts as well as many other activities.

The Marist Brothers and Sisters of Mercy are actively involved in the area, helping the poor and local schools by providing support where needed.

Many families are extremely sick and starving. There are child headed households, orphans and children who are abused and are often not cared for. 

These Brothers and Sisters try their hardest to help the people in this community, but one can only do so much in an area with so many poor people.

Over the years, now increased in our numbers by other St Henry’s alumni, we have been promoting the work of the Marist Brothers and Sisters of Mercy in the Sunday’s River Valley, where we can. We have organised and acquired sponsorships and donations from companies and schools in South Africa, while we have been studying for our respective degrees.

Every year, we try to improve on what we achieved the previous year. At the end of 2012 assistance was given by many, but especially St Henry’s Marist College (Durban) and St Joseph’s Marist College (Cape Town). St Henry’s donated over 200 pairs of socks and sporting equipment, while St Joseph’s donated over 300 pairs of shoes and 100 Christmas presents which Ram Hand to Hand Couriers transported for us, at no charge.

It is impossible to describe the expression on a child’s face when you put a brand new shoe on their foot, especially when that child has never worn a shoe before. Giving children presents for Christmas, knowing that they will not receive anything else, is a very humbling experience. It is with great sadness that we never, and will never, have enough presents, food or clothing to give to all of these families. That is the reality, there are too many poor.

We are so grateful for the work of the Marist Brothers and Sisters of Mercy, all over the world but especially in the Sundays River Valley. Thanks to them, we have been able to participate in touching the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of children. 

Record numbers attended the summer camp last December, again held in Langbos informal settlement. We are always proud to say that all who attended were able to play, have fun and hopefully to forget, for a few hours, their hardships.

Although death is a regular occurrence in the Addo area, we were deeply saddened to hear of a little girl, Jo- Anne, with such a bright future, who unexpectedly died from meningitis, at the age of six, on 29th December. We had known her since she was two. She had been with us from the beginning of our adventures in Addo. Her smile will never be forgotten.

We would like to thank all who have helped the Sisters of Mercy and Marist Brothers but would like to specifically mention St Henry’s Marist College, St Joseph’s Marist College and Ram Hand to Hand Couriers.

Jo-Anne, and others like her, is the reason why we continue our work. Although we could not save her, there are still hundreds of other children to whom we can give hope.

___________________
Jason Grieve (Head Boy -Class 2007)
Matthew Woods (Deputy Head Boy-Class 2010)
Patrice Madurai (Head Girl-Class 2010)
Adam Watson (Class 2007) 

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