The South African Ambassador to the State of Kuwait hosted a reception on Tuesday, 10 December in honor of eighteen senior students from the Kuwait English School (KES) who recently visited South Africa as part of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award along with members of the KES top management, including the school’s general manager, Mr. Muhmood and school director, Mrs. Rhoda Muhmood, as well as Senior School principal, Mrs. Janet Carew, international award coordinator, Ms. Ronel Hendricks and Mr. Gwilliam.
KES students also utilized the occasion to sign the official Book of Condolences at the residence of the South African Ambassador and paid tribute to the legacy of the late president Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
In his welcoming address Ambassador Delarey van Tonder congratulated the KES students with their ‘display of strength of character in meeting the mental and physical challenges of the program including a three day hiking expedition in the picturesque Cederburg mountain range in South Africa’s Western Cape Province.’ Ambassador van Tonder also highlighted the exceptional social responsible contribution of the KES students in the spirit of Ubuntu (I am because you are) which the students compassionately made to the development of The Change Project in the Cape Town region aimed at promotion of desperately needed educational facilities for young learners and children from disadvantaged communities.
The South African Ambassador also referred to the historical visit of the KES students to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for almost 27 years. In paying homage to Mandela as a “humanist, visionary and principled strategic leader “, he called on the students to “emulate the values and philosophy of Nelson Mandela” in transforming our societies.
KES students subsequently provided a briefing regarding their successful and educational visit to South Africa:
‘After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb’- Nelson Mandela. These words from Nelson Mandela’s autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” were the driving force behind our success as GoldAward students during the 4 days of hiking in the Cederburg at Clan William. It was a tough journey of challenge; emotionally, physically and mentally, that none of us were prepared for. We had trekked 80 kilometers through the mountain range and encountered many difficulties along the way. Each of us had something to overcome, something to prove and with that developed and focused an undying sense of determination to reach the finish line, to have finished our ‘long walk to freedom.’
“I didn’t expect it to be that hard,” concluded Heui Sung Kim who described just how unprepared we were for the punishing journey however, as the African proverb goes: ‘If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together.’ We were severely tested as a group and have definitely come a long way as a team through all of our difficulties along the road and I am confident that this sense of ‘Ubuntu’ will linger in all of us.
One of our biggest treasures as Gold Award students was our residential task, The Change Project. Diksha Radhakrishnan, commented on behalf of the KES students. “Shocked to see the poverty’ that these children were surrounded by. We were ‘overwhelmed and heart warmed by the fact that we could help them and make even the smallest change to improve their quality of life.” “I’ll never forget the kids and I’ll never forget the experience,” added Eleanor Hardy.
We donated necessities and educational material to the children and a monetary donation towards the building of elementary facilities centre. We still hold this project in our hearts and are aiming to raise further funds in order to subsidize the Khanyisa daycare.
An event which very much stood out was the visit to Robben Island. We were guided by a former prisoner who shared his and Nelson Mandela’s experiences with us, bringing the group even closer to South Africa and its history.
We, as Gold Award students, are very grateful for this opportunity and experience. We can only hope that future KES Gold Award students will share such experiences and continue to make a difference by empowering ourselves, the people around us and the institutions of study or where we work in a positive and leadership manner. The international Award Gold Group (KES) is committed to continue, in collaboration with KES Management and fellow learners, to fulfill the dream, no matter how long it takes, of providing for the ultimate completion of The Change Project.