Introduced to Vuyani through the Samara Volunteer Project, a brief connection blossomed into an annual visit for S5 and S6 pupils from Lathallan School of Johnshaven. This opportunity, to take part in a volunteering trip to South Africa during their summer recess, started in 2011. After a 3-year interruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic the program was resumed in 2023 – the reason is explained very aptly in the words of Craig, a S6 pupil who visited Vuyani in 2023 and is fundraising again in 2024:

“The South Africa trip was one the best experiences of my life and I am unbelievably lucky to have been able to take part in it. There is no better feeing than being able to help other people and we all took great pride in what we did, and will forever cherish the bonds we formed with the children and people at Vuyani.”

Since 2011, fifty Lathallan pupils have visited Vuyani, actively contributing to the children’s home. Their projects have included renovating a toilet block, developing playground and sports facilities, creating vegetable boxes from discarded pallets, interior decorating, resourcing Vuyani’s Learning Centre, and securing funding with South Africa’s largest law firm. As a school community, they have raised over £30,000 for Vuyani.

The fundraising efforts at Lathallan School often unite the entire school community, engaging everyone from the youngest 5-year-olds to the graduating 18-year-olds. Events like the Celebration of the Arts showcase this communal spirit, demonstrating how every member, regardless of age or grade, contributes to the cause. We also extend our heartfelt appreciation to the parents and a wide range of staff members whose dedication and support are invaluable, even if they may never have the opportunity to visit Vuyani in person.

In 2012 a scholar in his final year, Daniel Dreelan, raised money for a project at Vuyani to erect two extra drywall rooms in the existing big hall. For 12 years these very functional rooms could be used as a therapy room and a visiting room for parents and family and since 2018 for an office for our social worker and a play room for the children.

The Dreelan family stayed involved through various donations and visits. An aunt, Marion Dreelan, visited Vuyani with the Lathallan group for two consecutive years. Later Daniel’s sister, Sianainn also was part of the 2017 and 2018 team. This family’s all-over care and provision made a huge difference to Vuyani during financially challenging years.

Over the years Lathallan pupils found their interaction with the Vuyani children the most enriching of their South African experience and these young people are remembered with fondness. Our Vuyani children look forward to meeting new overseas friends every year.
Vuyani wishes to honour all the teachers from Lathallan School who initiated and led this volunteering project over the years. We are extremely grateful for their efforts in bringing these amazing young people to our children’s home. They provided leadership services that extended beyond fundraising and physical renovations, fostering meaningful interactions with the Vuyani family.

James Ferrier, then Head of Junior School, and Fiona Howie, then Head of PE at Lathallan School, were the pioneers at the beginning of the project. Although they have since retired from Lathallan school, James continues to accompany the group annually. Other teachers, including Emily Niven and Zoë Jordan, who have been involved over the years, have also demonstrated maturity and excellence in leading the Lathallan volunteer group.

Here are some of the reasons why Lathallan’s pupils are eager to embark on this fundraising mission and visit Vuyani.
“Since S1, going on the S.A trip is something I have always aspired to do. I think the work done there is really inspiring and an amazing opportunity to help.
My goal is to make as much of a positive impact as possible during our time there, and learn about different people and environments.” – Izzy
“I’ve heard from previous year groups that it’s a life changing experience and they found their positive effect on the Vuyani is extremely fulfilling.” – Ruaridh
“I’m going to improve my knowledge of other lifestyles and broaden my horizons. I also want to gain a better understanding of different ecosystems and environments as it aligns with my future career aspirations.” – Rachel
“I want to make a positive impact on someone else’s life and gain an understanding of what it’s like for people in different situations. I know this will be an unforgettable experience.” – Reuben

In the photo below are James Ferrier and Fiona Howie who spearheaded this volunteering outreach with one of the first groups to visit Vuyani.

Here are some of the old pupils and teachers of Lathallan School on their visits at Vuyani doing different chores at the House, working, playing with children and handing over a cheque for projects or support for Vuyani.

The Dreelan Family – Dan, Marion and Sianainn

2016 Group
2017 Group
2018 Group – the Scots!
2019 Group
2023 Group