Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Two weeks of fun and friendships

The choir perform at Assembly Rooms
(photo from the Jabulani Project)
On Sunday we bid a sad 'farewell and see you soon' to our wonderful friends from the Dloko High School choir as the end of their visit to Edinburgh to perform at the Fringe festival reached its conclusion. The trip was a resounding success which allowed this phenomenally talented group of young people - many of whom have never before left Umlazi township - to enjoy experiencing a different culture, be empowered by sharing their love of music and raise a huge amount of money that will be used to support projects tackling poverty in their local community. We at James Gillespie's feel so proud to have played a part in this amazing event and are delighted that the link between our two schools is now stronger than ever.

The schedule for choir's visit was incredibly busy and it would be impossible to document every event in detail but some of our top highlights included:
  • 6 shows at St Andrew's and George's West Church.
  • 2 shows at Woodend Barn in Banchory.
  • 3 shows at the Assembly Rooms with the JGHS chamber choir and Anna McLuckie, including selling out the on the final night and having to open the upper balcony!
  • Appearing on the BBC Culture Studio with Janice Forsythe.
  • Filming on an Edinburgh tram for BBC Edinburgh Extra.
  • A visit to the Scottish Parliament.
  • Special performances at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Montessori Nursery.
  • A visit to JGHS to join in with classes and perform for staff and pupils.
  • Countless open stage performances at St Andrew's Square and other promo performances around the city.
  • Shopping for new shoes at Schuh thanks to fundraising lead by the Assembly Rooms.
  • A final night party at Darroch with an experimental fusion of Zulu and Scottish traditional dancing!
The Dloko HS Choir and JGHS community on the final night
(photo with thanks to Ian Miller)

Unbelievably in addition to all of this there was still plenty of time for making strong friendships with the pupils, parents and former pupils of the JGHS network who kindly opened their homes to host the youngsters during their time in Edinburgh and spent time buddying the group on their travels around the city. There can be no doubt that the past two weeks have been a wonderful showcase of the strength, kindness and generosity of the JGHS community of which we are so proud.

We would like to thank all of the many people who helped to make this trip so wonderful, but special thanks must go to the following, as without their hard work and generosity it would never have been possible:
  • The Iris Initiative, who funded the choir's travel to Edinburgh.
  • The Jabulani Project, lead by Alex Wallace, for the huge amount of hard work in getting ID cards, passports and visas for the pupils.
  • The parents, pupils and former pupils of JGHS who hosted and buddied the pupils and staff during their stay.
  • The Assembly Rooms Fringe and St Andrew's and St George's West church, who provided their venues free of charge to allow revenue from ticket sales tobe fed back into projects in the school's local community.
Finally, we'd like to thank our friends from Dloko High School for allowing us to share two weeks of music, dancing and sheer joy. We have gained so much from you during your time here and those of us travelling to South Africa next year can't wait to see you again soon!

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