My Global Hope experience…

Global Hope South Africa Project 2019



Hi I’m George and I have recently just graduated from Hope with a degree in Sport and PE with Education.

Over the next 3 weeks I’ll be undertaking a Global Hope Project to Sparrow Foundation School in Johannesburg, South Africa. Faye and I, the group leaders and 4 other Hope students (Harry, Bianca, Sinead and Ellen) will be helping to improve the Media Centre (Library) in the school, as well as helping the children aged 7-13 with literacy skills.
I’m writing this first post in Manchester Airport, waiting for a short flight to London Heathrow before our long hall flight (12 hours 😯) to Johannesburg. This is my first trip to Africa and I’m really looking forward to it, especially getting to experience different cultures and to work with different children and experience how they learn.


We arrived in Johannesburg at 10.30am after a slight delay of 2 hours in Heathrow. We were met by the wonderful Alison Solomon a teacher in Sparrow School, she took us to the house we were staying at which is just over the road from Sparrow. After a quick change we set off for ‘Dinokeng Big 5 Game Reserve’ for a relaxing beginning to our Global Hope Trip. We arrived at the game reserve in Hammanskraal, and settled into to a lovely lodge with a pool.



Our first full day on safari, got off to a crazy start, we were up and ready for 8.30am, Alison had gone off to get a pass for her to be able to drive us around the reserve. After an hour and a half we were still sat there wondering whether she had been eaten by a lion!

When she returned we found out she had a flat tyre, having received help changing it from some locals, we eventually set off on a drive around the reserve. We went out for 3 hours and spotted lots of animals including Zebra, Giraffe, Kudo and Impala.
When we returned to the lodge Alison made us a continental breakfast and we had the chance to relax in the sun, with the temperature being roughly 20 degrees. In the evening we set off for a second drive around the reserve, again seeing lots of animals, and eventually we settled and watched the sun set over a lovely river dam.

When we returned home to the lodge we had a traditional BBQ called a Braai. Alison me us a wonderful selection of food including lamb chops, Boerewors (traditional South African Sausage), and we then got to enjoy a camp fire which was so peaceful and relaxing.2



Second day of safari! We set off at 7.30am to try and catch any animals that might be about, this led us to the river dam we went to the night before. Here in the crisp morning sun we got to see Hippos and many different water birds! After returning and having a full English breakfast, we then relaxed by the pool. Harry and I got in but we only lasted about 5 minutes as it was freezing! In the afternoon we went on a guided tour with a ranger called Wym. We were again out for roughly 3 hours, and we were lucky enough to see water hog, ostrich and the first of the ‘big 5’…the Rhino as well as her baby. This was a wonderful experience as there are only 5 rhino in this reserve.

In the evening we again had another BBQ and had a chance to relax around the fire and get to know everyone even more.



Our final day on safari saw us again leave before 8am on another guided tour. We this time went further south in the search for more of the big 5 animals – Rhino, Leopard, Elephants, Lions and Buffalo. After again being out for 3 hours we found 1 of the other big 5, the Buffalo, these really are amazing creatures. After returning, we set off for Johannesburg for some food shopping and then relaxed in the house. We were all so tired so we went to bed early, as we found out we had to be in school for 7.30am. The safari was an amazing way to start our volunteering programme, but tomorrow we start the real adventure in the school.



So today we started in the school and we got the most wonderful reception from the Principal and Vice Principal Lindsey, who came over to Liverpool for the Big Hope 2 in 2018. We were then introduced to a lot of the staff members and Lindsey gave us a tour of the school. We got to see the media centre were we would be working and decorating, and we started to rearrange furniture, sort books and then take down existing displays. Their school days run from 8.15am – 1.15pm and each class is only half an hour long. At 1.15pm every child then attends an extra-murals lesson, which can range from cooking to computing to a Scout group. 2.15pm is the end of the teaching day, today all the children were in their house teams and were practicing for the sports day next week. There were 3 houses and we were split in half to help and take part in the activities. After that we returned to the house and relaxed allowing the girls and Harry to catch up on Love Island, which they’d missed whilst we were on Safari because of no WI-FI!



Today we went with Lindsay to the main shopping centre that was local to us in Melville, which was very similar to Manchester’s Trafford Centre. We had coffee in a lively place called Mugg and Bean, but the main reason we were there was to buy supplies for us to decorate the school with. Once we’d bought what we needed we went for lunch in Nando’s, which was very nice. When we returned to the school, we dropped the supplies off and were asked if we could help out at the sports day practice… this was hectic!
In the evening we went to a couple of bars, 27 boxes and Jolly Cool, with Enna and Nikita who are the German girls living in the same house as us.


So a week after leaving Liverpool to travel to Johannesburg we started finally putting some decorations and displays up on the walls. The displays are a mixture of stuff we’ve done and the work of the children. In the afternoon we had a meeting at the Sparrow Head Office and we got to meet lots of different people including Jackie Gallagher, the Sparrow founder, and Renata Noble. In the evening everyone was so tired after a week here that everyone was in bed by 9pm!


Today is a week since we arrived in Johannesburg and because we haven’t seen any lions on safari we decided to go to a Lion and Cheetah Sanctuary. This was arranged with Lindsay, who also came along with her boyfriend Carl and his friend Marco. We arrived at the lion Park just in time for them to start feeding, and we got to see how lions attack their prey! We also saw cheetah, hyena, giraffe and warthog, to name a few. After this we had the opportunity to feed giraffes and play with lion cubs. This was such a fun experience!

In the evening, we went out for some food at a place called Roco Mamas, which was amazing and we then went off to what we thought was going to be a quiet bar for a few drinks. However, Lindsay took us to an outside techno rave, which was good but definitely the last place I expected to be when I came to South Africa!

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Today we took part in the ‘Walk the Talk’ charity walk. There were different distances that people could walk, and we decided to do the shortest distance of 5k. There were thousands of other people walking as well, so we got to meet lots of local people… it was a real party! We then went to a lovely Lebanese Restaurant for lunch and walked up 7th Avenue – the main street in Melville. After this we went back to the house for a chill as everyone was so tired from walking.

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Today we were back in school after a really good weekend. We taught 4 classes ranging from ages 11 to 15, the children were really happy to see us and to have visitors from a different country. We had the children write passports about themselves and also write pen pal letters to children in the UK. In the evening we again visited Cresta shopping mall to do some personal shopping.

30/07/19 and 31/07/19

Over the last two days we were again teaching in the school and we had classes from ages 7 to 13. We spent time reading and making bookmarks with the younger children before playing games of ‘Simon Says’ and ‘Who am I’ with the older ones. In the evening we just relaxed in our accommodation and caught up on some sleep after early mornings and teaching.


We were again teaching in the school during the morning, and had a busy afternoon visiting the Apartheid Museum followed by food and drinks with Lindsay. The Apartheid Museum was a very eye opening experience and it was sad watching the films of what was happening during the period of Apartheid. At the museum there was an exhibition about the life of Nelson Mandela, this took us on a journey through his life from a young boy, through his time on Robben Island to his release to work as President.

In the evening we went for food and drinks with Lindsay at a roof top bar called The Living Room, it was a great way to see the city of Johannesburg from above.

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We only had one lesson today as it was the Inter House Sports Day, every child had a house they were in, Intaka, Inyoni and Nonyana. We were all put into a house and we supported the children during the day. Mine and Bianca’s house, Intaka, won the spirit cup for the best support, but Faye and Ellen’s team, Inyoni, won the overall cup. In the evening we travelled to the Vaal River with Renata, we stayed in cottage with Renata and her family and it was a chance for us to relax and have some downtime.

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Today we went to a cheetah sanctuary with Renata and family, we learned about cheetahs and why there are so few left in the wild. We then got to walk around and see different animals. In the afternoon we visited a small town called Parys and went to a flee market were people were selling hand made produce, this was a good opportunity for us to buy presents for family and friends. We then walked around the town and went for lunch at Wimpy, a fast food restaurant. When we returned to the cottage we had the chance to relax, we played tennis, cards and chatted with Renata and her family. We also had a braai.


Our final day at the Vaal River was a final chance to relax, me and Harry sat fishing for 2 hours whilst the girls soaked up the sun. Me and Harry caught nothing, but it was a good opportunity for us to relax. We finished by having another braai. In the evening we again visited the Living Room for few drinks, we then went on to a bar called The Third Place, this was a small bar and we got to speak to lots of different people and it was a good chance to socialise with others.

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05/08/19 and 06/08/19

Today we were back in school and we were working hard teaching, reading and finishing off displays. In the evening we relaxed in the garden sun and had some chill time before going to do other things later in the week. I also created a Sparrow logo out of bottle tops for a recycling lesson tomorrow.

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