John Bercow, Speaker of the House, visits Masi

By Al Ritchie

The Right Honourable John Bercow, Speaker of the UK House of Commons, had a guided tour of Masiphumelele last Thursday (August 16th) hosted by Masicorp.

He was introduced to all our projects, which began with a visit at Ukhanyo school where he was introduced to Fran Loudon who described both the Science and English lab programmes at the school. He was very engaging and enjoyed interacting with our budding young scientists, who were amazingly confident in all their replies. Not surprisingly he remarked after we left how impressed he was at this initiative and Fran’s boundless enthusiasm.

On to a busy, bustling Library next where John met and chatted with Sue Alexander (see picture below), who is now becoming quite used to high profile English visitors. He visited the recently refurbished Computer laboratory to join in an Internet lesson and was quite taken with energy of the whole centre.

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Next on the itinerary was a walk though the informal part of Masiphumelele known as the Wetlands, looking absolutely shattered and wet from the previous nights storm. Unfortunately we were not able to visit a shack as planned because people were far too busy repairing damage but our visitors certainly got a sense of how difficult life in a township can be.

After an introduction to the Seedlings project we visited Tozama at the Sinothando informal crèche, a partially refurbished shack which will sadly never get registration. Most of the children had been collected but the four toddlers still there gave a fine rendition of the South African National Anthem. Tozama is amazing!

By now it was getting late and our guests had to hurry to the airport to catch their flight back to London.

Our thanks to John Bercow and his colleagues who showed genuine interest in our work and were indeed humbled by the experience.

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