A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.
She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”
The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved. — Adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren C. Eiseley
Students and staff members from the Kliptown Youth Program (KYP) in South Africa recently shared this powerful message of connection and service to others, and hope for the future with Episcopal students. KYP was founded in 2007 by a small group of young people dedicated to making a difference in their community by eliminating obstacles to education. KYP offers support for school fees and uniforms and provides access to a range of resources including after school tutoring and technology.
The KYP founders are guided by the African philosophy of Ubuntu, which means “I am what I am because of who we all are.” With this guiding principle, the group has seen tremendous success in just 11 years:
The group’s story has resonated around the world. Kliptown Program Executive Director Thulani Madando was recognized among the CNN Heroes for the group’s commitment and work. KYP Gumboot dancers, who provide audiences a glimpse of the Kliptown culture through their performances, have been invited to perform internationally.
The recent visit to Episcopal and Baton Rouge was made possible by the Reilly family and City Year Baton Rouge, an education-focused nonprofit dedicated to helping students and schools succeed. Junior Rowan Reilly, who has volunteered in South Africa, shared more about his own personal connections to the KYP group with Upper School students during a special Chapel service. KYP students and staff performed Gumboot dances, taught dance students the steps involved and even had lunch with students in Webster Refectory.
“The students were treated to a global experience right here on our campus. The excitement seemed to grow as the morning went along, culminating with a standing ovation for the KYP delegation and a standing room only meeting in the Alumni House,” said Episcopal Chaplain Skully Knight. Upper School students gathered with the students and leaders from KYP to talk about the potential ways in which Episcopal can stay connected with them and their work. Examples discussed included online tutoring and reading work, connecting with other schools in the United States that already work with KYP and even the possibility of traveling to South Africa in the future.
To learn more about the Kliptown Youth Program, click here.
To read more about members of the Gumboot Dance Team click here and here.