Students in South Africa Singing and Signing the Song "We Are Walking a Bridge of Peace"

One of the goals of “Bridges of Peace and Hope” is to enable students from diverse backgrounds to learn about others through shared experiences and classroom connections. This photo shows BoPH founder John Farrell singing with a group of students at DeRust Futura Academy in Grabouw, South Africa. John has visited this school twice, once in September, 2005, and again in October, 2007.

Pictured Left: Students at DeRust Futura Academy performing the song "We Are Walking a Bridge of Peace"

In 2005 John met a Xhosa woman working while having breakfast at the Thandi Farm Kitchen near DeRust Futura Academy. John asked the woman if she could introduce him to the headmaster at the school and arrange for him to bring his guitar to school to sing with the students and staff there. The woman, who had a daughter at the school, made the introduction and arranged for John to visit the school and do assembly programs later that week.

DeRust Futura Academy is a government school (public) on the grounds of a large vineyard and winery. Nearly all the children attending the school come from families that live and work at the vineyard. Since the South African government practiced apartheid until 1994 it is only in the last 15 years that black people have been allowed to vote and choose where they want to live. Prior to that they were prohibited by law from living outside the townships (designated, fenced in communities, often without running water and electricity). For most black people, conditions are somewhat  better today than they were before 1994, but many black South Africans still live in immensely difficult circumstances.

Both times that John has visited DeRust Academy he has been welcomed as an honored guest. The school does not have a gymnasium or auditorium so assembly programs are held outdoors in the concrete courtyard. In the photo you saw in the “Common Threads Box,” students are singing and doing sign language to the song, “We Are Walking a Bridge of Peace.” The video below shows the song as it is performed and the second video teaches the sign language used.


"We Are Walking a Bridge of Peace"

"Learn the Song We Are Walking"

Teachers and students from DeRust Academy have been active in the BoPH program since 2006. Shown to the right is the quilt square created by students from the school. The golden bridge, the hands, and the colors of the sky and water are all symbolic of their hopes for a brighter future through unity. They submitted a lovely poem describing the art which is included on one the Quilt Project panels.

Teacher David John Hartnick is a BoPH advisor. David John and students from DeRust Academy have participated in the Quilt Project and as Classroom Pen Pals.

Pictured Right: Quilt square created by students from DeRust Futura Academy

You can contact Mr. Hartnick at