John Storer from HALI Access Network member organisation the UWC school in Eswatini, Waterford Kamhlaba, writes about the power of partnerships and personalities to connect opportunities with talent.
Winter at Waterford Kamhlaba (WK) threw up so many HALI highlights that I thought it was about time I wrote a long promised blog post, especially as many organisations are coming here in October! I have never been able to attend the Indaba but have always appreciated and been inspired by the growing network and what is being done daily to support our charges. Here we have a nationally recognized school which is part of the global UWC movement and I know the massive advantage this gives us in terms of profile and opportunity for our students. We have been able to develop a number of significant institutional partnerships as a result, not least being a Davis UWC partner school, which has helped us in both recruiting students and then sending them to tertiary in the North, but for me it always comes back to the personalities that keep these engagements alive, fresh, front and centre of our vocation.
The Winter term started with a visit from Imagine just across the border. We were honored to assess some of their brightest assets and offer a place to our first student from our HALI neighbour. Our annual nationwide Careers Fair, now in its 12thyear drew 2700 students from 40 high schools to meet exhibitors representing every profession you can imagine and universities like UP and APU. Our partnership with The Knowledge Institute has become indispensable in promoting and enriching the event and how many WK alumni support, representing their employers is terrific. We are celebrating our 10 year partnership with the Higher Life Foundation this year. Over the last decade they have sponsored more than 100 HALI students here from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Burundi and Rwanda. On my July visit to Harare to recruit the next crop, I met with Rebecca Zeigler Mano to hear about her new school and was delighted to learn that a WK alum (selected for us by the Zimbabwe National Committee) had applied to be their Chemistry teacher having just graduated as a Pearson Scholar from Toronto. While in Harare I also met another WK scholarship alum who was there working with the WFP in their response to Cyclone Idai. I could go on to detail St. John’s, Cambridge sponsoring 2 of our best HALI girl mathematicians to their summer camp this August or my meeting with a UWC graduate from Mpaka Refugee Camp who we selected for our sister UWC in Germany and is now an ILOT recipient at UBC – he was back to ask how he could give back to the Swazi UWC National Committee.
Whichever partnership we are focused on they are all kept in the forefront of my mind by Sibahle, Charmaine, Fanele, Tandza, Kofi, Thula, Vera, Matlala – whoever those bright eyed and deserving young personalities are who make working in this field such an honor and so fulfilling. Unsurprisingly the demand is unrelenting given our continent’s median age of 18 – but we continue to be in the right place at the right time. As one of our colleagues puts it – “talent is everywhere – opportunity is not” but HALI does more than most to put this right. I look forward to seeing and meeting many of you at ALA in October and then hosting you here!