“Serving others prepares you to lead others.” – Jim George
Leading up to the festive season, myself along with Miranda Tichareva (Class of 2015) and Sizo Ncube (Class of 2015) boarded a bus destined for Bulawayo, Zimbabwe on the evening of December 12, 2015. For us, going home from ALA during this break meant more than just going home to spend quality time with family friends and taking a much needed break from the rigour of ALA; instead, we were on a mission to dedicate their time to bring the festive season cheer to less privileged children across Bulawayo. Before our departure, we had to raise funds that would enable the success of the project. We managed to raise US$250 (R3220) as well as food parcels, bed linen, clothes and shoes (that would serve as care packages) – donated by the ALA community.
In collaboration with a local organisation called Luyando Uthando Children’s Fund (LUCF), we hosted two Christmas parties; the first was at Percy Ibbotson Juvenile Detention Centre on December 19th and on December 22nd we hosted the second at St Martin’s Orphanage. A total of 174 children and 13 caregivers feasted and shared in a lot of joyous moments. At the conclusion of each visit, we – the young leaders – distributed care packages.
As I recount the visits, I would say the atmosphere [when we got there] was sombre. Most of the children living in the informal settlements of the areas we visited cannot go to school because their parents cannot afford school or in some cases have died. One such case was Thaddeus, a 17 year old boy, who has not been able to return to school since his parents’ deaths in 2013. Fortunately, we were able to bring festive cheer to four families by donating food hampers.
The revelations as well as what we learnt having done this project were certainly an eye-opener and we realize that we merely provided temporary solutions to an even bigger problem. However, at the very least, what we came away with are the valuable lessons and networks that this opportunity afforded us. As we look ahead to continue our leadership journey at ALA and beyond, we will embrace the complex responsibility to be better servant leaders to our communities.