Building in South Africa by Pearson Group
This May, the Pearson Foundation joined Projects Abroad for a tailor-made group trip in Cape Town, South Africa. For two weeks, twelve representatives from six different countries participated in a community service project. The Pearson Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Pearson, organised their first Global Assist Fellowship, allowing all Pearson employees to apply for this opportunity with a personal motivation. The selected group used their specific skillsets to become an asset to the child care project and a community building project in Cape Town South Africa.
At the Care Projects in Vrygrond, one of Cape Town’s poorer communities, the volunteers worked closely with the teachers and used their expertise to help improve the learning environment for the children, despite limited resources. “I had to watch and listen”, says Jennie, a Pearson employee from Chicago, “I needed to learn from the local caregivers to know how to best serve the children.”
Jennie and the other members of the group were able to make a long-lasting contribution to the Care Projects through a generous book donation from The Pearson Foundation. “We gave one book to each child, and you could tell that was the first book they had owned. Even after outdoor play they came back inside and immediately started to read again, their excitement was so evident!”
In the afternoons, the Pearson group would assist in building a community center in one of the townships. They helped build walls and a floor for a common room for children to play in. “It is so incredibly rewarding to be working on this structure which represents a beacon of hope for the people”, says Carine from Toronto, Canada.
Besides working on something tangible and seeing significant progress, this project in particular helped the group members to get to know one another and really bond. “Every day is a learning experience and the camaraderie of this team is beyond words”, says Dipti from the United States. Launa (US) added, “The Building Project is so lovely because it brings our volunteers together without regard to job, position nor homeland and unites us towards a common goal.”
For the Pearson group, Projects Abroad organised a local host family for the members to stay in. “This is an absolute must”, says team leader John Warner, “being able to share meals together, talking about the local food and for the family to share their history of South Africa. That couldn’t have happened any other way.”
“We worked with Projects Abroad to put this fellowship together. I am absolutely blown away by the results, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience”, says John, “we have a renewed sense of self, and pride in our company”. Jennie (US) reflects, “This has been a life-changing moment, providing that time to learn about a new community as personal reflection not only for ourselves, but also in our professional lives.”
We hope great stories like these inspire other companies to contribute their expertise and join Projects Abroad in making a difference and by doing so, have a great learning and team building experience along the way.