February - today was a day where Surbiton and South West London felt a long,
long way away. It was definitely one of those stand-out days that will
remain with me, and hopefully the boys, forever. A report cannot fully do
today justice but I will do what I can to help you capture it a little.
It has been
our busiest day so far, full of incredible moments and new experiences.
We began the day with news of last night's grand 150th launch at G-Live
filtering through. It sounds as though the Marimba video came across
well. The boys then had 'Chapel' (a whole school assembly with a definite
Christian theme), followed by the first two lessons of the day.
We then set off on the Cape Town City Sightseeing open top bus tour, on another
quite glorious day. Starting at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical
Gardens, we travelled west along the Table Mountain area, through beautiful
hills, trees and winelands. Our first scheduled stop was at Imizamo Yethu
Township, for a guided tour of the area. This stop was meant to last
approximately 35 minutes, but so interested/intrigued/amazed/challenged/moved
were we that we ended up spending over 1 1/2 hours there.
A word to sum up today would be 'contrasts' - our township guide, 'Mobeka',
spoke passionately about the contrasts in the area, with a roundabout at the
entrance to the township acting as a dividing zone, once due to Apartheid, now
due to wealth and poverty. We headed one side of the road deep into the
ever expanding township, right into the heart of social degradation and the
poverty stricken community. What faced us was, on the one hand
inspirational, as people admirably got on with life and made the most of any
resources they could, yet on the other hand was saddening as a very real,
visual reminder of the inequalities in this world stood before us.
Pictures of despair were mixed in with glimpses of hope and stories of support
and sacrifice. The boys saw before them a real-life situation, a million
miles from their SW London homes and lifestyles, and yet physically less than
one mile from a rich, affluent suburb of Cape Town. I am sure the boys
will be able to tell you in detail their experience of that township. The
highlight had to be a visit to the community primary school, where 95 young
children were schooled and looked after by just three ladies. The SHS
boys were a credit in this environment, happily engaging with, talking to and
high-fiving the kids, sharing smiles with them, and leaving with some lasting
memories. It was an emotional time as the world's contrasts were so
clear, and yet we left smiling, touched by the genuine warmth and joy of these
young kids. It was quite a challenge for us all and one I hope the boys
can remember and use to help shape their worldview and thinking.
On leaving Imizamo Yethu we headed west and then north, around Hout Bay and
along some quite stunning coastline. We stopped for lunch at a Pizzeria
at Camps Bay where the white beach and beautiful sea was breathtaking. We
then headed north east, along the coast, through the very affluent Clifton area
with its own amazing coastline, round Bantry Bay, along Sea Point, and then all
along the Beach Road, past the Football World Cup Stadium, before heading on
into Cape Town itself. We disembarked outside the Aquarium on the
Waterfront. We had seen a lot on the tour but were also hit with a sense
of wanting to see and experience more in the remaining time we have here.
We won't be able to see everything but it truly is a region of endless
attractions that we have just caught a tiny glimpse of so far. A glimpse
maybe, - but a glimpse that touched us all deeply and will be embedded in our
The day did not end there! Mr Steynor picked us up and drove us straight
to Bishops, where the boys were signed up to play in their first ever game of
Water Polo. 4 of the 6 boys had never even had a training session, yet
alone played a game before, and the two that had just had the one session
earlier this week for a few minutes. Our boys threw themselves into the
game, despite not knowing the rules and regularly being confused by the blowing
of the whistle. It was so good of the WPPS staff and boys to allow our
guys to be part of the Under 13C team and experience something else brand
new. I'd like to be able to report a glorious first ever SHS victory in
water polo, and yet, alas, it was not to be, however great fun was enjoyed
as well as a totally exhausting
the boys returned to be with their hosts for the evening. I sense the
boys will sleep well tonight after a very full, active day. I do hope
that memories of this morning will not have faded, and in fact, never will.