On March 4th, a group of 20 students, Mr Robinson and Mrs Cheung, their two boys, and Ms Hall started our journey to Eswatini. After 31 hours of travel, we arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa. We spent one night there and then started our six-hour bus ride the next morning to Eswatini to a game park named Mlilwane.
We were welcomed by zebras, warthogs and other non-predatory animals, and then saw our beehive-like cabins. In Mlilwane, we experienced a two-hour morning hike up Execution Rock to be greeted by an unbelievable view of the valleys of Eswatini. After our hike, we split the group in two. Half of the group went horseback riding and the other half went on a bike ride around the park.
After spending two nights in Mlilwane, we then travelled to a guest house called Malendela’s, with an incredible garden surrounding us; we truly felt like we were in the middle of paradise. During the four days at Malendela’s, we took a one-hour bus ride to an elementary school where we began our work.
We were greeted by a group of kids from kindergarten to grade seven. To say they were just as excited to see us as we were to see them would be an understatement. Our service work consisted of mixing cement, moving bricks, building the walls and filling the holes. It doesn’t feel much like work when there are 100+ smiling kids around you. We also got the chance to go to a grandmother’s house who lives with sometimes up to 10 children in little huts smaller than a squash court. The huts are made out of branches and mud with very little security and warmth. We were able to build two small stone buildings for these families.
We also had the chance to go to another game park called Hlane. This park had more predatory animals including lions. We stayed at Hlane for two nights while doing two early morning safaris, a rhino walk and a late afternoon safari. After our two nights at Hlane, we came back to Malendela’s to continue our work at the elementary school.
Unfortunately, because of covid-19, we had to cut our trip short two days; we had one less day at the worksite and we travelled across the South African border to arrive in Kruger Park. We stayed for two nights in South Africa. While we were in the park, we were lucky to see a baby hippo that was a few days old and a jaguar, along with the other animals. From there, we travelled another six hours back to the airport to then separated the group as many were flying home to different places.
On behalf of the rest of the students from the Eswatini service trip, we’d like to say how unbelievable and eye-opening this trip was. We’d also like to say a huge thank you to Mr Robinson, Mrs Cheung, Ms Hall, Joe, and Pam for putting all their time and effort into making this trip unforgettable! Thank you!
Chaya N, Mackenzie ‘20