Goodbye for Now

Some of the Vygieskraal children gathered with the WPI and FCW team

Some of the Vygieskraal children gathered with the WPI and FCW team











Background: On Tuesday, 08 November, our team visited the settlement one last time before going back to the United States. FCW staff wanted to hold a promotional session in the settlement to spread awareness of ECD and FCW’s presence in the area.

Setting: Vygieskraal Settlement

Cast of Characters:

Vygieskraal Residents: Bongani, Sydwell, Bhuti
Vygieskraal Settlement Children
FCW: Lameez and Camelita
WPI Team


After a successful meeting with our sponsors and co-researchers, we headed over to the settlement one last time to finish off our last day at the stadium and to promote FCW’s programmes at the stadium. Bhuti drove over to Vygieskraal with Lameez and Camelita to help them find the park from the street entrance, while the rest of us walked on the pathway that goes over the canal. We walked over with smiles on our faces and hope on our minds. Julia S asked Bongani and Sydwell about their Christmas plans and they seemed very excited to be going to the Eastern Cape to see their families for the holiday. As we entered the settlement by the portable toilets, we saw a tent set up that read “City of Cape Town” on it. Bongani explained that the tent was a travel health clinic that comes a few times a year to check for TB and HIV. There was a line of adults waiting and some children running around in the general area. After some consideration, we decided to set up next to the city tent instead of in the rundown park in order to attract more people’s attention

Our team, Bhuti, Sydwell, and Bongani assisted Lameez and Camelita with setting up the gazebo and table, and putting pamphlets out. Almost immediately, children swarmed us and started climbing everywhere. Lameez redirected the children’s attention, gathering them into a circle for a game, while Camelita started handing out the pamphlets to people who were walking past the gazebo. Bongani and Sydwell took some as well and started going door-to-door around the settlement. The children, already in a circle, started singing some songs and we all clapped along with them, trying to understand how to play the game. It was hard to hear each other over all the laughter, singing, and excited shouting, but it was so worth it! Eventually, an older girl said she would lead a new game and it was a blast! We shuffled around in a circle holding hands where we did different body movements, clapped, and sang. Our smiles grew bigger and bigger as the game went on!

Throughout the time we were playing the game with the children, a few mothers had walked by, but it became evident that many parents were not interested or were unaware that we were there. Lameez and Camelita decided it was time to start cleaning up. We assisted them with the process, but were sad to be leaving so soon. The children could tell that we were getting ready to leave and started to give Julia S, Julia R and Delaney hugs. We said goodbye to the children and as we were doing this, Lameez suggested we take a photo of the group. Nick took the picture, while the rest of us gathered around the FCW van. We were wearing smiles from ear to ear, very thankful for the past seven weeks we had spent with the residents of Vygieskraal. After all of our goodbyes, many of the children ran back to their homes.

We said goodbye to Bhuti and thanked him for everything, but could not find Sydwell or Bongani. Julia R stressed to Bhuti that we really did not want to leave until we said goodbye to them. Delaney turned and spotted Sydwell and Bongani walking right towards us! One by one, we said goodbye to the men we had worked so closely with for over a month. We gave them one last handshake and hug. Julia S had some tears in her eyes hearing Bongani say he had learned from us and is grateful for everything we did. Bhuti, Bongani and Sydwell walked us back over to the stadium and we said another round of goodbyes, although this time they were final. We wished them a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and Bongani wished us well on our life journeys. We climbed into the FCW van and drove away from the settlement for the last time! It was a bittersweet ending; we were more than happy with the relationships we had made, but also sad that our time there was over so soon.


We experienced a wide range of emotions on our last day in Vygieskraal. It was a powerful experience to see the product of eight weeks of work with FCW members and our co-researchers coming to an end in such a positive way. It showed us the impact that small actions can have on a community and how, by bringing ECD to the attention of a few residents of the settlement, improvement can occur. It was also wonderful being able to spend time with the children of the settlement one last time before leaving. While our co-researchers were thankful for our presence, we were grateful in more ways than one for the time they had committed to working with us and their dedication to our project. Even though many community members live in poor conditions, they still have a positive outlook on life. Their humbleness and gratitude for simply being alive and having what they have is a valuable life lesson for all of us. They still have faith despite all of the hardships they face. While it is likely that we won’t see them again, the impacts we have made in each other’s lives will last a lifetime.