Education is universal. Opportunity is not.
This is the sentiment that played over and over in my head as I sat under the shade of a huge Marula tree in a tiny rural community on the very edge of South Africa called Justicia. As a member of the Londolozi family – a family who was the founding patron of the Good Work Foundation over 10 years ago – I had the great privilege of attending my third of the now-famous GWF graduation ceremonies. Famous because of the African energy that you become engulfed in when you sit under the tree of learning at any one of the 7 campuses across South Africa.
This year has been a busy one as we have returned to pre-pandemic volumes of travel. We have welcomed so many of our guests to a thriving Londolozi and enjoyed sharing the Londolozi magic with each one of them. As I wind down and close out 2022, I make no bones about the fact that I was looking forward to attending this graduation because of the pick-me-up it would provide to my energy and my inspiration.
In the heat of an African morning that you can only understand if you have visited us in early December, my heart was incredibly full as I watched not only our very own Londolozi Family members take their seats among the Bridging Year Academy (BYA) graduates of 2022, but the sheer number of graduates who had made it to this point, despite challenging circumstances.
As I looked over at the 5 rows of graduates waiting to receive their certificates, it was amazing to see the flood of beautiful, bright, inspiring women sitting to my right. Out of roughly 50 graduates, 45 of them were young women. In a rural African community. That is something that just would not be a reality 10 years ago before the Good Work Foundation began its mission to challenge how people learn, what people learn, and, most importantly, who has access to learning.
Sindy Mhlongo, one of the very proud BYA graduates, gave an impressive speech to end off the ceremony. As I listened, I felt a profound sense of gratitude for each person who has walked this journey with the GWF – be it the campus leaders, facilitators, donors, or simple supporters of this ground-breaking NGO from around the world – each of you reading this blog included.
I am not sure if you realise just how much of an impact just one night’s stay at Londolozi has, and the power of the ripple effect that it creates. Without your support, by both traveling to Londolozi or making a donation to the GWF directly, these satellite campuses would not exist. Without these campuses, and the dedicated, inspiring, committed team of facilitators, access to a world-class education for those at the very ends of South Africa would not be possible. You have made a direct, palpable impact on not just these graduates, but nearly 12 500 other students from the rest of the GWF campuses. And while I sat and listened to the address by Sindy Mhlongo I felt so much respect for the cumulative effect that these small ripple effects have in our community.
I am standing in front of you on behalf of my fellow graduates.
It is a pleasure to be standing before families, the GWF team and my fellow graduates… as we will be called from today.
On behalf of the 2022 BYA (Bridging Year Academy) we would first like to appreciate the dedicated GWF Family here. We say a family because you have been a home away from home for each one of us. We thank you for the hard work, the passion and the support. Indeed, it did pay off. Standing up did pay off.
We thank our sponsors and donors. I cannot name each one of you but we thank you so much for your support. Without you, we would not be here today. Have you seen how beautiful the graduates are? It’s because you have supported us. When you look at us, Justicia is on the outskirts of the country. We are the end. But you manage to bring this Good Work Foundation, this campus, to the outskirts of South Africa. For that, we would like to thank you so much. You made it possible for us.
First, when we came here, we were told we speak two languages here at the GWF – English and Digital. That was not possible before you, our sponsors and donors, supported the vision of the Good Work Foundation. And for that we will forever be grateful.
To our parents who are here today, we thank you for your support. Some of you are climbing a mountain yourselves, but thank you for always supporting us anyway.
Still speaking on behalf of the BYA 2022 group, allow us to thank The Good Work Foundation, the campus team, our facilitators, those who were dedicated and supportive, encouraging… I can name it all. We thank each one of you.
To the BYA 2022 group – it has been amazing interacting with you throughout the year. I urge each one of you here to go out and represent the GWF well. Be the good example wherever you are. And let the GWF flag fly higher with the knowledge and skill that you have acquired here. Forward, GWF. Forward.
The journey has not been simple. But we made it. Rember to be adventurous as you continue the journey of life. As you move forward, remember you are the future. Because of you, the future is great.
The Good Work Foundation has given each one of us a key to open doors. We heave learned, we have grown and our minds are now equipped with knowelge and skills.
Standing here today, so proud, happy, I cannot even describe how thankful we are as the BYA 2022 group. With growth and with knowledge and skills that we have acquired here our minds have now been sharpened and I would like to urge each one of you to continue to sharpen the minds of the future. For it is possible. you can reach greater heights with education, with the skills.
Each one of us knows our mission, right?
We challenge how we learn, what we learn, who has access… and that’s our mission.
Let the mission live in all of you.
~ Sindy Mholngo, BYA graduate 2022.
It would be remiss of me not to mention how proud we are of our Londolozi staff members who have accepted the challenge to further their education this year. Despite working 7 days a week, 365 days a year in a busy and bustling hospitality industry, these staff members have managed to carve out time to sit in the Londolozi learning center and invest in their own education. Let them be an example of just how much can be achieved when the doors of education are opened to anyone who is willing to walk through them.
As we enter the festive season and welcome our guests who are journeying across the globe to enjoy an African Christmas with us here at Londolozi, please join me in delighting in the success of the Good Work Foundation and the ripple effect that education has on this country. Supporting the GWF is one of many ways that you can create your own ripple effect in the world. If you would like to find out more about the Londolozi Ripple Fund, and the other projects that we support, I invite you to read here.
To make a donation to the GWF and future students wanting to change the world, click here.
Education matters. But access to education is the real key to forward motion.
In the wise words of W. B. Yeats,
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.