Growing compassion in the hearts of the girls of the DSG Junior School is one of our greatest desires – helping our girls to recognise and take opportunities to help others and learn from others is paramount. Engaging with our wider community means to meet and learn from our peers in local schools; visit and listen to the elderly in their gathering places; support and encourage the hopeless and helpless; care for and love one another so that we can all grow together.
The Involvement of our girls in community programmes is part and parcel of being a DSG girl. They inspire one another to reach out to those in need on a regular basis. In doing so the girls gain insight into the needs of the wider community, grow in compassion for others, recognise their own privileged positions and learn to take opportunities where they can personally make someone else’s life easier or better.
We spend time engaging with the Holy Cross School through reading, singing, and playing games together. The girls have discovered that they gain more than they give during such a visit.
The Ecobrick project, which is ongoing, and not only lessens the environment of soft plastic, but the bricks will be used by a local NGO, which is building an outdoor auditorium for performance art in the nearby Peddie community. As soon as there are enough bricks (6000 are needed!) building can commence. A recent look at the world’s ocean plastic crisis by the girls has highlighted the urgency of continuing to make these bricks.
The annual interhouse knitting project is our focus during the winter term. Not only do many girls learn the skill of knitting, but the squares that they and their wider families create are joined by willing community and family members into blankets which are delivered to people in and around Makhanda who are in need. Part of the ‘knitting season’ is our request to more seasoned knitters for children’s beanies as well as ‘Dolls of Blessing’. The beanies are distributed to many children in Makhanda, while ‘The Dolls of Blessing ‘project is run by Operation Mobilization in the East London area. These uniquely created dolls are being used to help educate vulnerable children about the dangers of human trafficking and how to keep themselves safe. Each year they have been extremely grateful for the dolls made by our community, and the girls are taught about the need to educate all children and be educated about the scourge of trafficking children.
Our interaction with the orphaned children at Ikhayalethu, a small orphanage in Makhanda, run by dedicated nuns of the order of St Luke, has been personal and uplifting for our girls of DSG and equally so by the children they visit to celebrate their birthdays. During the Covid-19 pandemic it has been a small yet intimate group on each visit which has proved to be deeply meaningful for everyone. DSG girls have recognised the grateful hearts of the children they now call friends. ‘What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude’. (Brene Brown).
The Grade 7 girls have started an EarlyAct club this year. It is voluntary but well supported and the girls themselves, guided by staff, organise, and run events. They have held two fund raisers to be able to purchase birthday gifts for the Ikhayalethu children. Their big ideas for engaging with people in the community are inspirational and meaningful and the girls themselves are eager to involve themselves as much as possible.
It is a dream that DSG Junior girls reach out on a personal level to interact with and learn from their community. This creates a deeper understanding of the lives of others. It helps our girls to realise that every person has strengths and values, and they also have a deep longing to be appreciated and belong, no matter their circumstances.