International Relations – Somerset West and Birchwood Lions Club
When 17 year old Birchwood Community High school student Charlotte Smith asked Birchwood Lions Club for a little help with a project, little did they know what an outstanding and thoughtful young person they had found. The Birchwood School has a special relationship with Groenberg Secondary School in South Africa and Charlotte, who plans to become a sports teacher, has travelled to the Groenberg School on two occasions to assist with the development of sporting activities for disadvantaged children.
Charlotte visited a nearby orphanage during her last visit and was dismayed to discover the lack of facilities there. Many of the children are disabled and have a restricted quality of life. Charlotte became determined to do something about the situation. The name of the Orphanage is ‘Agape’ which is Greek for ‘Love.’ Charlotte hopes to offer them more than love and presented the Lions with a ‘wish list’ of sports equipment which she considered would increase the childrens’ quality of life. There was, however, a major problem; the cost of shipping the equipment to South Africa. Quick thinking, Lion President Ken Whibley, contacted Somerset West Lions Club in South Africa and they were more than pleased to assist.
The Somerset West Club sourced the equipment locally and the Birchwood Lions sent hundreds of pounds to pay for the items. The Lions also equipped Charlotte with high visibility sports vests and a Lions Club fleece. Charlotte has raised extra funds for her projects through sponsored cycle rides. She has also been supported by Frontis Housing, Thomas Risley Church and Halton Night Stop.
Charlotte said, “My dream is to teach the children sports that they have never seen before and to develop their skills and self-confidence. I want them to believe in themselves.” Ann Bright, Head teacher of the Birchwood School commented, “The Lions global contacts with Somerset West Lions are groundbreaking and who knows where it will lead.”
Charlotte visited South Africa in August and spent two weeks at the orphanage and one week at Groenberg School. She also visited the Somerset West Police Trauma Unit, Little Angels School, Good Hope School, Helderberg Street People’s Centre and the projects in Sir Lowey’s Pass Village.
The Lions Club of Birchwood was so proud of Charlotte’s that they entered her into The Young Ambassador as Birchwood’s 105 BNs candidate. Charlotte won the award and plans to donate some of the money from the bursary fund she received as part of her prize to both “Little Angels” and the “Good Hope Centre.”
Birchwood held their 25th Charter anniversary celebration on the 26th November and Charlotte attended as a special guest.