Students and staff from Newcastle College have recently returned from South Africa, where they worked with more than 700 children in schools and orphanages. 

Organised and funded through the Turing Scheme, a team of 13, including 10 HE learners from Sport and Business, spent 16 days volunteering in the country. Working at four schools and an orphanage in Kwa Zulu Natal, the group worked with children aged 2-13, holding sports and exercise sessions while supporting other projects, such as painting the orphanage.

Providing international opportunities to work and study around the world, the Turing Scheme gives students the chance to interact with new cultures, learn different languages, and form lifelong connections with people across the globe as part of their college programme. This was the first time Newcastle College students had travelled outside of Europe as part of this scheme.

The link with South Africa came from Brogan O’Connor, Enrichment and Development Manager at the College, and Trustee of the Bambisanani Partnership. She Explained: “The Bambisanani Partnership started when my old school St. Mary’s High School in Leeds linked with Mnyakanya High School, which serves one of KwaZulu-Natal’s most deprived rural communities.

“A fundamental aim of the partnership has been to create genuine ‘two-way’ learning between both countries, with a key focus on working together and learning together. The Bambisanani story is testimony of the power of sport to change lives.”

The students enjoyed their experience of volunteering with the children, with Sport student Liv Forster describing her time at the Ngqamzana Primary School as “a very successful day and one of the best days of my life.

Level 4 Business student, Shalia Bond, said that the highlight of the trip for her was reading out letters that Newcastle College students had written to the children at the primary school. She said: “Newcastle College wrote some amazing letters to the children here and we had the opportunity to read them to them. The children loved it, and they wrote some beautiful letters back. I can’t wait for the students here to read them!”

Brogan described one of the letters written by a 10-year-old boy as “one of the most moving experiences of the trip” and something “that will remain with us all forever”. The boy wrote: “When I grow up, I want to be a social worker. I want to help people. I don’t want to see children be in crime”.

Whilst the trip was funded through the Turing Scheme, the students raised an additional £1,544 ahead of their visit, which they used to purchase essential items, toiletries, and sports equipment for the schools. They also took donations of clothing, books and toys.

Now that they are back in the UK, the staff and volunteers would like to continue to support the schools they have worked with. After learning that more than half of the pupils in the schools walk there barefoot, their first goal is to ensure that all of the pupils have a pair of shoes to wear, supporting the South African charitable initiative ‘My Walk.’

‘My Walk’ uses hospital waste to create school shoes for less than £2 a pair while reducing waste that goes to landfill. Brogan is hoping to raise the £3,000 needed to provide every pupil in both schools with a pair of shoes, before returning to visit them next summer.

Donations can be made to the initiative via the Bambisanani Project here or by sending a direct bank transfer. 

Name: Bambisanani Partnership
Bank: Lloyds
Sort code: 306522
Account Number: 70114260 

You can send a donation of £2 to fund one pair of shoes, or you can choose to donate more. Please include your name and NCL as the reference with any donation to ensure it is allocated to the initiative.