U.S. students get down to grassroots

2008-06-25 00:00

American students have volunteered to help the struggling Impendle Municipality in a bid to improve economic development.

Eight students, all with a U.S.-based non-profit organisation, Operation Crossroads Africa, were welcomed yesterday by Mayor Sizakele Makhaye and the economic development steering committee at Impendle Thusong Service Centre.

They will stay in the Mthokozisi Creche in the Sithunjwana area for a six-week cross-cultural experience, helping in school projects, community gardens and in the homes of terminally ill people.

Makhaye said the students will hopefully connect with the youth of Impendle and encourage them to get an education.

“They must encourage the youth to use the land available to them to start businesses and curb hunger and unemployment, which will then boost the economy of communities. I want them to experience our culture, traditions and values and hope they will share something with us, remember South Africa and speak of the poverty of Impendle.”

Programme facilitator Samantha Ellis said the students fund-raised for the past year to pay for their flights, transport, tools, equipment and food. She said they will live an authentically rural life, complete with having to heat water over fires. “They are happy to live like that. They want the experience.”

The team leader, Brenda Brown, said the students have yet to discover what they will be doing, but, she added, they came prepared.

The volunteer trip was organised through the municipality’s local economic development steering committee.

Future visitors to Impendle will include an American family and a group of U.S. students from the School for International Training who will spend two nights with a Zulu family to learn about community health in a rural area.

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