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Carthage professor and students continue humanitarian work in South Africa

June 12, 2018

A group of Carthage students and recent graduates spent five days in Eshowe, South Africa, in early June, where they helped to renovate a primary school, continuing a humanitarian effort that began during a J-Term study tour this past January.

Carthage group at Nkume Primary SchoolCurrent Carthage students Jalen Franklin ’19, Nathan Clark ’20, and Michael Keys ’21; and May 2018 graduates Mia Bennett, Anna Henry, Samuel Mischio, Sierra Perry, and Elanta Slowek; along with North Park University student Shaylee Sloan were in South Africa under the leadership of Carthage education professor Michele Hancock.

During the five days that the Carthage team spent at the school, from May 30 to June 6, Professor Hancock and the students tackled three main challenges facing the community: sanitation, teacher education, and business education. They were able to repurpose desks, refurbish four existing water tanks, install two new 5,000L tanks, construct a playground, and create more classroom spaces. In addition to these improvements, the Carthage team provided e-writers to all grade level students, which were then used to teach lessons in math and English.

The Carthage group worked to restore desks, create more classroom space, install water tanks, bui...The Carthage group worked to restore desks, create more classroom space, install water tanks, build a playground, and deliver supplies.

“Seeing my peers come together to help this school in many ways warms my heart,” says Anna Henry ’18. “I admire seeing people from the J-Term trip and all of the new students go beyond just fundraising to get all of this work done. Seeing all the South African teachers and students working in order to make their school better kept us motivated to continue doing our tasks. I look forward to keeping this relationship with the school and hopefully coming back many more times to continue this work.”

Stemming from a 2018 J-Term study tour focused on education, led by Professors Hancock and Jennifer Madden, Carthage’s connection with the school originated from a tour of underprivileged schools in the area. After experiencing the lack of government support, sanitation, and proper classrooms provided to its students, the Carthage group selected Nkume Primary School as their focus going forward. Once back in America, the team wasted no time forming plans to raise funds for supplies and organize a return trip, eventually raising $4,194 for the school.

“Our return visit to Nkume Primary School has afforded me the opportunity to further my research on deficit thinking in schools,” explained Prof. Hancock. “But most importantly, working with the Carthage students, volunteers, and school staff reinforced my faith and belief in the kindness and humility of others.”

Nkume children with Elanta Slowek '18Nkume children with Elanta Slowek '18

While in South Africa, Elanta Slowek ’18 documented the trip, posting stories, pictures of the area, and goals of the group to an informative blog. To read the stories and learn more about the project’s background, preparation, and the group’s work, visit Slowek’s Nkume Primary School blog.

During their visit, the Carthage team was recognized by the mayor of Eshowe, Cllr TB Zulu, and other community members for their successful, humanitarian efforts. In the future, Prof. Hancock and the students hope to strengthen their partnership with Nkume Primary School in hopes of continuing their positive impact even further.

The Carthage group met with Eshowe mayor Cllr TB Zulu and other community members The Carthage group met with Eshowe mayor Cllr TB Zulu and other community members