Busy days, hot sun, dusty streets, smiling faces, sweaty bodies and full hearts are some of the phrases used by Bridge House students to describe their experience working at a community partnership project in Philippolis during the first week of the December holidays. John Varty, who runs the Tiger Canyons Conservation project near Philippolis, together with the Good Work Foundation, originally set up the project in this area, where one of the most impoverished communities in the country lives. The project forms part of Tiger Canyons’ social responsibility outreach. The Good Work Foundation continues to run this as an ongoing project, along with other projects around the country.
Bridge House is a member of the International Round Square organisation and one of the IDEALS (pillars) of this organisation is the “S” in IDEALS i.e. Service. Philippolis is the venue for one of the Round Square International Service Projects where students from Round Square schools all over the world work in Philippolis during their summer holidays (June/July). Every year, students in Grade 11 at Bridge House are offered the opportunity of going to work in Philippolis for the first week of their December holidays. The project is always oversubscribed with more students, than there are available places, wanting to go.
Twenty-one Bridge House students and two adults spent the first week of their holidays doing tough, but fulfilling, work. Every day brought new challenges that the Bridge House students navigated with ease. They learnt how to weld and grind the frame for a greenhouse; how to lay piping for toilets, how to install counter tops, lay mats as a floor and how to mix and pour concrete for the floor of a new classroom. Their bodies ached and were battered but the result of their work was incredibly rewarding.
Two other Round Square schools, St Stithian’s Girls College and the Oprah Winfrey Academy for Girls, also sent students to work at the project.
Bridge House sees the interaction with the community as invaluable and it is an ongoing part of the project. The last day concluded with a Christmas party for the children in the community where each child received a small gift. While they were singing Christmas carols, the rain began to fall. What a privilege it was for the group to be there to witness the first proper rains in that area for a very long time and what a beautiful sight it was.
Photo: Timshell Pheiffer