Since the start of the Zoe Trust, back in 2010, Bridget Swift has been our mentor in Ingwavuma supporting our children. She has lived in Ingwavuma for 24 years, has three adopted children, and speaks fluent Zulu. She has been an asset to the trust and made our journey and growth in Ingwavuma smooth and successful. Seven years ago she married Andrew Swift and together they set up Khethani Christian School were a number of our children are studying.
New Mentors for our 10 children in Ingwavuma
At the beginning of 2016, The Zoe Trust received the news that Andrew (Head teacher at Khethani) and Bridget were leaving Ingwavuma to move to Grahamstown for family reasons. This was difficult news for the Zoe Trust as the only way we knew was through Bridget; she has been our on the ground support system for seven years. Therefore an important part of my work in Ingwavuma over the past 12 months has been to create sustainable systems that can outlive the Swifts and my time here. This has been a two-step process; first securing mentors to support our children on the ground and then working alongside the Swifts to pass on our knowledge to a new leadership team who will take over at Khethani, both vital for our children’s continued success.
Luckily the mentors we needed were already in place in the community. They just needed to be welcomed into The Zoe Trust family and given support to take on their new role. Mr Mqwanazi is a fantastic male role model in the community and the Grade 7 teacher at Khethani. He already has a good relationship with our older four children and their families and has closely supported our older two boys through the transition to high school. It was therefore natural for him to take over the role as mentor for these four children. For our four younger children, Sylvia Hamilton seemed the obvious choice as she has a good relationship with two of the children’s families and has worked alongside a social worker to support another one of our younger children. She provides a motherly figure and, although supportive, also has firm boundaries which will make sure that both the children and parents continue to strive for excellence. Our final mentor is Zodwa who is the lead social worker at the orphanage and therefore the natural mentor for our two children who live there. She is already their mother figure so this is a natural relationship and one that we can successfully use to our advantage.
All three mentors have been working alongside me to mentor our children over the last three months so that we could deal with any hiccups or problems together. They provide our children with a loving and caring place to celebrate success and share challenges. I have every confidence that under their guidance our children will continue to thrive.
Khethani School: a strong new leadership
At Khethani, Andrew Swift has worked tirelessly to make sure that the school is handed over successfully. The governing body has created a fantastic leadership team who will jointly run the school providing a wide range of depth and breadth. Sylvia Hamilton (chair of the governing body) will be the administrative principal of the school, Petra Heese (30 years teaching experience including some in Ingwavuma) will be the deputy principal in charge of academics, Mr Mqwanazi (Grade 7 teacher) will be the Head of discipline and sport and Mrs Ndlovu (Grade 4 teacher) will be the head of pastoral care and grounds. Each member of the leadership team brings their own strengths and areas of expertise which when put together will create a formidable force. They also represent four different nationalities which I think will be valuable in the development of the school in the community as the school strives to both fit into the Zulu community and also strives to find its place on the national and international education map. In addition to what it brings to the school, this team (bar Petra) took on their roles in September and so they have had a whole term to find their feet in their new positions whilst being mentored by the outgoing head, Mr Swift, and they are now ready to take over running of the school. Khethani is in the best possible hands for the coming chapter and our children are extremely lucky to go to what is without the doubt the best school in this area. They are receiving a quality holistic education which supports them not only to succeed in the Zulu community they live in but to prosper in the world.
A strong Khethani is one of the central foundations which allows the Trust to perform its vital role in Ingwavuma, and I am confident that this transition, together with our stellar team of mentors, will ensure the security and quality of the Zoe Trust’s work long into the future.