A group of high school students from KwaZulu-Natal and Yorkshire in the UK have broken boundaries to become the first international partnership to receive the Diana Award, which rewards young people for their efforts to build a better society for all.
The Diana Award was founded in 1999 by the UK Government to act as a lasting legacy to Princess Diana’s belief in the power of young people to change the world.
Ten students from Mnyakanya High School in rural Kwa Zulu Natal and fourteen students from St. Mary’s Catholic School in Menston, West Yorkshire are the first young people in different continents to receive the Diana Award for their collaboration on the Bambisanani Partnership.
The students from Mnyakanya High School are also the first South Africans to be presented with the International Diana Award.
SPORT AS A CATALYST
For the past six years the two schools have worked together as The Bambisanani Partnership using sport as a catalyst to promote education, health, leadership and global citizenship. Bambisanani is the Zulu word for working hand in hand and encapsulates the collaboration between the two schools.
Over the last year the Young Leaders at Mnyakanya School have developed a HIV/Aids education programme that they have delivered in their community. They have raised awareness of HIV/Aids in schools and clinics, and they support people suffering from HIV and encourage young pregnant teens to continue their education.
Mrs PK Zondi, who has co-ordinated the volunteering at Mnyakanya High School, nominated the Young Leaders for the International Diana Award. She said: “We are delighted that the Young Leaders are the first South Africans to receive the International Diana Award. The Bambisanani Partnership has inspired both our schools in so many ways. My leaders who have developed the HIV/AIDS Awareness Programme are helping to educate the community.
“They encourage those with HIV/AIDS to be positive and to look after themselves. They show love to others and are wonderful role models; they do not discriminate and are not judgemental, they have developed a real empathy for others. The impact of their work is amazing; they are changing the lives of others.”
EDUCATION IS KEY
The fourteen students from St. Mary’s Catholic School received the Diana Award for their work in South Africa – the students visited the country in July 2012 and worked at Mnyakanya School, Ntolwane Primary and the Zulufadder Orphanage. Young Leaders from Mnyakanya and St. Mary’s jointly organised Sports and Reading Festivals for local primary schools.
David Geldart, assistant Headteacher from St. Mary’s and founder of the Bambisanani Partnership said: “The area of South Africa that we work in has one of the highest rates of HIV/Aids in the world, unemployment is extremely high and adult illiteracy is greater than 60%. Education is key in breaking this cycle of ignorance and poverty. I am so proud of the young volunteers from Mnyakanya and St. Mary’s.
“These young people are doing things for others that really matter. Their positive actions and commitment is making a difference in the world. They are wonderful role models who I know have already inspired others. They are all honoured to receive the Diana Award.”