By Mark Bettle, Hampton-Piggs Peak Partnership
Every year at this time, the Hampton-Piggs Peak Partnership starts to look forward to the next school year in Piggs Peak that starts in January. Part of that process is Bev Harrison’s trip there, paid from his own pocket, to evaluate potential candidates for our Starfish Program that pays fees for high school students.
Bev just returned and tells us he interviewed almost 50 students; visited some homesteads; and had discussions with the principals of the high schools to smooth out the process of enrolling new students. Bev also asked for an opportunity to meet with the guardians of the students already in our program.
Bev said the meeting was very valuable and rewarding. “The parents, gogos, and guardians had many questions. They learned first hand for the first time who we are, what we are about, how we make selections, how we follow up on the kids on the program, our philosophy and our interest in following up on the students during the academic year. Our Swazi partner in each school was on hand to translate for those who had difficulty with English. They did an excellent job.”
“The parents who spoke commented on our sincerity, our love for, and belief in, our mission. One parent on the school parent committee said he was so impressed with our interest in each student, our follow up with them, and our chats with them about academic and social issues. Mentoring and encouragement left these parents feeling we were more than just sponsors from away. They now feel that they are part of a unique programme that is very special. They felt their kids were very fortunate to be part of it. The best part was they are now committed to being part of the team.”
“They were impressed that we were not a group just sending money from afar and leaving the kids to be anonymous recipients of a scholarship. They realized we were interested in each student, and we had a passion for what we were doing. One grandmother, sitting in the front row, wept, because she couldn’t believe that people from half way around the world would take such a personal interest in helping and mentoring, and not just sending money like other organizations they have heard of. Another grandmother who was blind, came with a neighbour, because she wanted to speak to me about helping her granddaughter who was in Grade 7 and could not attend high school next year.”
Bev’s visits to Piggs Peak are extremely valuable, not only providing an opportunity to assess Starfish candidates, but also helping to build a relationship, a true partnership, with the people of Swaziland. For more information, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .