In 2006 our founding Principal, Warwick Wilke announced his retirement, and the question was asked, ‘What is a suitable farewell gift to acknowledge such a distinguished career?’ The answer came back quickly in the form of ‘another school’!
Thus began a relationship between William Carey Christian School and the Bethesda School situated in the landlocked nation of Lesotho. This partnership facilitated by World Vision titled the ‘Maphutseng Partnership’. Lesotho is a beautiful and mountainous, landlocked nation within South Africa, and is also amongst some of the poorest nations of the world. Maphutseng is the valley in which Bethesda School is situated. Agriculture is one of the main industries, which is easily impacted by climactic conditions. In addition, the adult population was impacted terribly by AIDS, resulting in many children being orphaned by this disease.
A primary school classroom in the upper Maphutseng Valley.
Under Ian Wake’s principalship, our school committed to raise $50,000 each year, for three years. A massive undertaking! The school community met this challenge head on and achieved this target through the great work of students and staff and the generosity of the wider school community. These funds were used to improve school buildings and provide teaching materials. Other projects that were supported during this time and the following years included a school lunch program, funding of a youth worker for the school and local church, establishing food security for orphaned children (being parented by teenage siblings or grandparents), chicken coops and other farming projects.
Under the leadership of past staff members Julie James and Tim Hewitt three trips to Lesotho were completed, two of them including teams of student ‘Maphutseng Ambassadors’.
The partnership did not end with the completion of first goal. Ongoing work raised funds for the construction of a bridge which provided safe passage across a nearby river. Many students cross the river each day to get to school and seasonal floods would prevent students from attending lessons for weeks at a time. Not only did the bridge allow students in the valley to attend regular lessons, it benefited the wider community.
Fundraising lead by Sharron Hall, Sylvia Morris and Jacquie Napper and over recent years has provided support to the Growing Nations agricultural college. This program provides training in sustainable conservation farming practices. Our school has also provided scholarships so that more students can afford to attend the High School (the government only funds education in the Primary years).
I am so thankful for the work and generosity of so many people over the 15 years of partnership with the people of the Maphutseng Valley. God blesses us with material wealth to empower us to be generous towards others. This year we will complete this partnership with the provision of a final amount of over $30,000 to support projects including Growing Nations outreach programs, preschool nutrition education and security for the current scholarship students through to their graduation.
This year, the school has reviewed our focus for charitable work and service learning to develop a framework that includes priorities that fall into local community, national and global categories.
We have commenced a new partnership with Tearfund Australia which support both global as well as Australian first nation communities. Tearfund are a Christian agency working for a just and compassionate world. They work in partnership to end poverty, challenge inequality and build sustainable communities. Following Jesus, they go where the need is greatest, acting with courage to tackle injustice so that all may experience fulness of life.
Tearfund offers the flexibility of a range of projects and the capacity for students to engage and have voice in where funds being raised can go. Their programs meet emergency humanitarian needs and build communities through water and sanitation, education, health, along with food and livelihood programs.
Tearfund run education programs and provide resources to help our students understand the issues of injustice, poverty, and climate change, prompting them to respond with compassion and action with a biblical perspective. You can learn more about Tearfund by visiting https://www.tearfund.org.au/
Our Primary students have already commenced their partnership with Tearfund raising over $430 through organising and running the ‘Back to the Outback’ lunchtime movie. Well done to our Junior Ambassadors on a great start!
I am looking forward to many opportunities for William Carey Christian School to partner with Tearfund Australia in helping them achieve their vision of achieving a just and compassionate world, as we develop the Carey Attributes of showing respect and compassion.
This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’
Mr Keith McMullen