For the past four months, I have been working at Levana Primary in Lavender Hill. I remember that what struck me most on my first day, was not the area or debilitating circumstances that these children live in like most would think, but rather the warmth and happiness of all the students and teachers alike. This warmth was a complete juxtaposition to their surroundings which were dilapidated and bare.
I am South African and have lived in Cape Town since I was 15 (I am now 23); in all this time I had never set foot into a township, and especially not Lavender Hill which is notorious for its crime, violence, drugs and gangsterism. I’ve lost count of the amount of shootings that occurred just across road from the school, during school hours. My fifteen year old self would never have envisioned that I would be willingly driving into an area that has been compared to a war zone, every day for two school terms. I can happily say that I regret nothing, and that meeting these children and helping them in some small way to overcome their circumstances has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Every misconception that I had, was quickly replaced with a sense of awe as these children proved to me that all I had thought was wrong. I expected to walk into a school with naughty delinquent children that would be a projection of the circumstances that they were living in. I was so wrong. I came to realise that these children, are just like any other children; they laugh, play and hurt just like any other child would. If I hadn’t come into the school and known that some of these children have had very difficult upbringings, I would never have guessed it myself. They have never let their circumstances get the better of them and have a strength in them that overcomes every obstacle thrown their way.
I am so incredibly happy that some of these children will now be getting a helping hand in overcoming their circumstances, through a scholarship to a good school. All the days of stressing and nagging the children to bring in their application forms and documents payed off. It is through education that people overcome their circumstances, and this is why the work that The Compass Trust is doing is so important. During my time at Levana, I did a leadership development class with some of the children in each class, from grade 4-7. I really bonded with the children in this time and I hope that they took some of what I taught to them to heart, and will use it to create better futures for themselves.
My time at Levana has been one to remember. From the sweet little letters from the children, to across the road shootings, there has never been a dull moment- although I won’t be missing the latter. I truly hope that The Compass Trust becomes as much of a success as I know it can be, not for any other reason than to be the stepping stone for these children out of Lavender Hill and into a better life filled with prosperity and opportunities. These children deserve it. They have made such an impact on my own life, and I know that I will be keeping in contact with them in the future. My time at Levana and with The Compass Trust will never be forgotten; the image of warmth and smiles from the children will always remind me that no matter your circumstances, you always have the power to choose how you want to respond.