A globe trotting Sleaford woman has just returned from the trip of a lifetime as part of a team of volunteers in South Africa helping some of the poorest young people have a better future.
Emma Wilson, 38, whose family still lives in Ruskington, works for a singles’ holiday company and has travelled the world, but was inspired to be part of a group of five volunteers from the UK that headed out for a week on March 13 to Capetown as motivational coaches with the Fearless Speaking Academy, a scheme set up by Warren ‘Inspire’ Ryan, a top motivational speaker who has been working in schools and with adults for years.
Known as Team Inspire they aimed to bring their own life experience stories to underprivileged children in schools and organisations to give them, and their teachers, workshops and talks on confidence and self-belief to better themselves and break the cycle of poverty and crime.
Emma succeeded in raising £2,000 in sponsorship to cover flights, accommodation and travel. Other would-be volunteers who could not raise enough for the trip donating the money they had collected to help children in disadvantaged communities.
They mey up with Kim Worrall, the CEO of Amoyo, a performing arts training programme designed to engage young people. She organised a security guard/driver to ferry the team around during their week visiting schools and townships where it might have been unsafe to go alone.
Emma said the team were interviewed on Bush Radio station which is aired to one million people over Western Cape Town.
She said: “We were here with two fantastic boys – Dylan and Charlton, founders of an organisation called Youth Redemption. We were to collaborate with them for the next few days and they had arranged various talks and visits, this radio interview being one of them.
These boys are super special boys and are doing amazing things over in South Africa, for so many people. Youth Redemption is a youth company/movement dedicated to changing the mindset of young people all over South Africa between the ages of 16 – 24) in order for them to make positive life choices concerning their future.”
Afterwards they visited two schools where they chatted with the children and did a workshop with over 400 pupils, with Warren having them hanging on his every word, recalls Emma. In contrast it was a much more emotional encounter at the Amoyo school with people opening up about their experiences and everyone was crying before getting up, dancing and clapping.
“It was a very emotional but rewarding week,” said Emma. “When I am working everyone is in happy mode n five star hotels, but going to the poor areas and townships it is quite deep.”
She said: “We went along with the guys from Youth Redemption to hand out shoes, trainers and food to homeless families living out on the waste land as part of their Kick Game Grind project. They also hand out toiletries as the people are living in bin bags and tents, but they were polite, laughing and joking.”
At the next school visit it was Emma’s turn to talk, she said: “I hadn’t really spoken much in front of crowds so it was a great experience for us all and pushed us out of our comfort zones.”
On the fifth day the team joined British guide Andrew Patterson, who led them on a four-hour ascent on foot up Table Mountain. Andrew is raising money for charities by climbing the mountain at least once each day, sometimes more than once a day if taking up tours, for 365 days.
Emma said: “He does it in about one and a half hours but I never realised how bad it would be - climbing over rocks with the sun beating down, but it was great when you got to the top. It was a true honour to meet him and share this experience with him.”
Some of the project spent the next day at the Pebbles Project - a non-profit organisation helping disadvantaged children and families in the Winelands farming communities in the Western Cape.
Emma says: “On the last day we visited the Salesian Institute Youth Projects which works in youth education and skills development, changing the lives of vulnerable children and youth-at-risk in and around Cape Town, South Africa. They offer support, life skills, and vocational training through hands-on vocational training.
“We got to meet the children where they sang us all a song, then Warren did a little workshop with them. We all did a small talk and told them our passion and dreams.”
She explained that the disadvantaged youths are encouraged to learn positively, thanking them for turning up rather than punishing lateness.
Their trip was topped off by visiting the penguins on Boulders Beach. She said: “People were sunbathing, the kids were playing all whilst the penguins were swimming past them. It was all a bit mad.”
Emma concluded: “It made me grateful for what we have as what some kids go through is shocking. I would like to do more of this kind of speaking, although it was a bit nerve-racking.
“I would like to thank all our sponsors.”
Dylan and Charlton from Youth Redemption will be visiting the UK for the National Education Show on November 16 and hope to to do more visits to schools and events while here. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org