Belgium family move to Wembley College
At the beginning of the year, a Belgian family arrived in Greytown with four children, twin girls, Marilysse and Marylaine in Grade 2, Laurysse in Grade 4, and Joshua in Grade 5, to begin schooling at Wembley College. The family speaks French at home but all the children now know how to speak English. We spoke to Julie and Ulysse Baguida about why they have come to Greytown.
“Could we be going to South Africa?” This is the question we asked ourselves after two refusals from the Belgian government for an educational grant to Central African Republic and Cameroon. This educational project was born out of a vision to solve problems of poverty and insecurity in Africa through education and training. At a European conference in Belgium in 2018, Ulysse made contact with a South African innovation organisation.
This is why we asked ourselves the question, “Why South Africa?” We believed – and still believe – that innovation will play a key role in developing the level of education in Africa, and thus its economy. So, when this new, admittedly rather unexpected, door opened, the whole family travelled to Pretoria in July 2018 to initiate contacts with South African institutions.
Numerous meetings were held with different agencies. But the institutions were slow to respond and we never got to the point of signing an agreement. Appointments were made with the Department of Education in Pretoria, but then Covid came along and disrupted the whole programme.
Nevertheless, through long-distance contacts with some companies, we were put in touch in 2020 with “A Better Africa”, of which Mr Scelo Mbonambi is a member, and through Mr Mbonambi, Wembley College, Michael and Louise Yeadon, we first visited Greytown in July during the KZN looting. Far from being discouraged by these turbulent circumstances, we were convinced that South Africa needed this project in order to grow and solve its problems of poverty and a lack of education.
Mr Mbonambi then approached schools in the surrounding area and allowed us to visit some of them. Together with Scelo Mbonambi, Michael and Louise Yeadon we sensed the potential for a partnership. The Umvoti community was very enthusiastic. To validate the process, a letter of commitment to the Belgian Government was signed through Wembley College, representing the Umvoti community, which was aware of the need to provide sustainable support to this community.
After praying in the name of the Lord Jesus for the acceptance of this letter, we sent it to the Belgian Government and, to our great joy, they accepted it. We then realised, we were being called to lead this project in South Africa. However, there was still one step to be taken: the Belgian Council of Ministers had to sign off on the project before it could receive funding.
Having been promised support, our whole family left home, relatives, work and school on 6 January, without definite confirmation of the project. Trusting that when the Lord starts work, he leads you to the end, the signature from the Belgium government finally arrived 12 days later. Since then we have been aware and convinced that a story is being written, in Greytown, South Africa, Africa and beyond.
And while we realise that there will be many challenges, we keep our faith and we want you to be part of the story. We hope you will join us in our endeavour to bring education to many areas that need our support. So this is how, we landed in South Africa, Greytown, from Brussels.
Ulysse and Julie Baguida, June 2022.