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Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Inspiring hope in the hearts of learners

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Students created motivational posters of hope as part of the project. MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Students created motivational posters of hope as part of the project.

Inspiring hope was at the heart of a recent Service-Learning project in the Southern Cape town of Mossel Bay.

The Service-Learning and Civic Engagement (SLCE) Unit, under the leadership of Jacqui Scheepers, recently joined forces with the Faculty of Education, Wellington Campus, and the Department of Emergency Medical Sciences for the Hearts of Hope, Health and Happiness project.

Mossel Bay is one of the areas where the Faculty of Education’s students do their practice teaching and Department of English lecturers, Valencia Theys and Dr Hanlie Dippenaar, heard about a soup kitchen that was started in Asla Park during the lockdown. It was started by Pastor Thys Wagenaar from the Filippense Christian Church, Community of Africa, Angelina Wagenaar and Mary-Ann Michaels and feeds around 50 children twice a week.

“The learners were previously beneficiaries of feeding schemes at their schools but were now going hungry. Pastor Wagenaar and his team purchased food and supplies from their own pockets and rose at 4 am to cook the meals, before they went to work to earn a living,” said Dippenaar.

The two lecturers approached the SLCE Unit to conceptualise an intervention and the project was born. Students created motivational posters of hope for the Asla Park learners while Scheepers assisted in securing donations from local businesses who supplied vegetables and fresh fish to feed the learners.

Theresa Burns from the SLCE Unit contributed learning materials and other items which they transported from Cape Town to Mossel Bay.

Lovetta Bolters from Camissa Solutions, who is engaged in a broad range of community projects in Mossel Bay, partnered with CPUT and contributed care packs, transport and accommodation costs.

“The learners were invited for an afternoon of fun and educational games on 7 October where they received the posters and goodie bags. Bolters presented an inspirational message to the learners, telling them that they ‘matter very much’. Theys played educational games with the learners and, joined by two postgraduate students from the Faculty of Education, conveyed the students’ messages of hope and support,” said Scheepers.

The programme was supported by CPUT’s EMS Department Head, Lloyd Christopher, who invited EMS Master’s student Daniel Tilley, who is based at the Western Cape Government in George, to facilitate a session on health and safety. Tilley reminded the learners of the importance of safety during COVID-19 and taught them about the paramedic services. After the event Wagenaar and Michaels provided a warm meal to the learners. 

Scheepers said the highlight of the event was the feedback from students that working across disciplines was an enriching learning opportunity that gave them broader insight.

Scheepers thanked Grandslots for their support.

*The SLCE Unit supports staff and students across faculties and departments and advises on ways to collaborate with government agencies and community-based organisations in implementing relevant projects in urban and rural locations. Such projects are important experiential learning opportunities for students and enable the university to contribute to society in its aim to be an engaged and relevant university. 

Written by Ilse Fredericks

Email: Frederickskennediji@cput.ac.za