Learning in Mamelodi Township, South Africa

We Learn…We Grow...We Dream…We Achieve—learners chanted the aims of the Mamelodi Initiative as they performed a final skit for the Summer Jam during the January school break.


One hundred and thirty-two learners from grades eight to twelve attended the Summer Jam, and seventy-one volunteers—college students and others from South Africa, other African nations, Ivy League campuses, and more—taught learners study skills, computers, community service, and entrepreneurship each day. Fun workshops followed the classes.

During the evenings, our contingent of fifteen college students and staff from America learned practices of a transformational community as we connected in small groups and large groups, studied Scripture, learned communication frameworks, and shared life stories. In addition, we learned spiritual practices to deepen our relationship with God.

Pat and I taught a basketball workshop and these are some of the participants. 

Pat and I taught a basketball workshop and these are some of the participants. 

As we served in the township we sought to be servants of a different type—contemplative activists. “Slowing” disciplines in Scripture, prayer, and reflection helped us grow spiritually and aided us in our work.

As always, I learned much from the black South African learners and volunteers in the township: strength in community, joy in suffering, and the priority of relationships. I pray that I will be able to slow down, value relationships more, and rejoice like they do even when times are difficult.

Service-learning trips to the township of Mamelodi are life-changing. We hope some of you will be able to join us someday.