Published on 12th August 2011
VSA’s long-standing friendship with South Africa partner organisation Imvomvo has became even stronger thanks to a 12-day trip to New Zealand by Imvomvo manager Thoko Mlonyeni and sport development officer Zoe Tom.
Thoko and Zoe were accompanied by Bahayi Mtumane and Msoso Musuko from the Winter Rose Rugby Club, which works with Imvomvo on sports programmes for young people living in Mdantsane. Mdantsane is South Africa’s second-largest township (after Soweto), and is located just outside the Eastern Cape city of East London.
Thoko and Zoe visisted marae and Maori immersion schools in Wellington. They hope to take elements of the kura kaupapa system to help strengthen the language and culture of the Xhosa people, and in particular the children who attend the Winter Rose Pre-School.
VSA volunteer Judy Moore helped set up the pre-school, which provides early childhood education to about 60 children, when she was on assignment in East London from 2008 to 2010.
“Children all speak Xhosa when they arrive at Winter Rose Pre-School, but English is seen as being better and once they go to school they start to lose it; it’s about being proud of our culture and stories and language,” says Thoko.
Bahayi and Msoso’s activities included spending time with members of the Petone Rugby Club and touring the New Zealand Rugby Union Offices. They also visited Maori immersion schools, where there were interested to see how Maori culture and language is incorporated into sports and rugby training.
According to Thoko, the visit to New Zealand would not have been possible without VSA.
“If VSA had not worked in East London we could never have come here; we want to thank VSA for the opportunities it has created for us.”