Students and staff volunteer in South Africa

This June ten University of Leeds students from a range of degree programmes and three staff members travelled to South Africa to volunteer in primary and secondary schools.

Over two weeks the Gryphons Abroad team made an impact on nearly 200 South African students lives over two projects.

Cycle to Success

The first project took place at Mnyakanya High School, in one of the poorest regions of South Africa where the team taught 30 students, both male and female how to ride and maintain bikes.

Frankii Darko, Gryphons Abroad student said,

“The cycle to success week of the trip has been amazing. To see students who had never been on a bike cycle by themselves and know how to fix them when something went wrong after only three days of teaching is pretty unbelievable!”

Read Frankii’s full blog here.

english student teaching african student to ride a bike

The team worked with Security Services and the Sustainability Bike Hub team to ship over eighteen recycled bikes which were refurbished after being abandoned on campus last year, as well as the tools and spare parts needed to fix the bikes when needed.

By the end of the week all students could ride a bike, most of which had never been on a bike before and nine students had all the skills and knowledge of road signalling to cycle on the main road.

south african fixing bikes and smiling

The skills the students have learnt are invaluable and many of them have already used the bikes to get to and from school, which for some was previously a two hour walk each way. The South Africa school teachers also spoke about the impact of the project on the students’ motivation, confidence and desire to succeed, and how the bikes were being used in the community,

“It’s not only the school that is benefiting from these bikes, it’s also the community. Learners who have learnt these skills are now showing others how to do it at the weekend. They learn a lot doing this project, they become motivated and go on to be something outside of the community.”

Inspire through sport and leadership

The second week of the project saw 160 South African primary school children learn a range of skills based around leadership, sport and education.

south african students playing cricket

The Gryphons Abroad team each led a classroom session based around their degrees, where everything from maths to mental health was taught. They also played a range of sports throughout the week as well taking part in leadership sessions where the South African students learnt the key skills needed to be a great leader such as, communication, organisation and planning.

male english stuident teaching South African students

The week culminated in the South African children leading activities of their own and putting what they had learnt into practice.

Finally on the last day the team went to a Zulufadder Orphanage where they got to meet and play with children who had lost their parents and were being looked after by an older sibling.

The trip was a huge success and has had a huge impact on both the students from the University of Leeds as well as the students from South Africa.

Watch the video and find out how you could be involved next year on the Gryphons Abroad Webpage.

The Gryphons Abroad project is run at part of the Bambisanani Partnership Charity.