Louise Cameron, Rays of Hope’s much-loved Education Manager and head of our Rose-Act Saturday School programme, is retiring. We bid Louise farewell after 16 years of rallying volunteer troops to offer extra classes to over 300 Alexandra residents each year, ranging from Grade four to Grade nine.

Louise originally volunteered to teach in Tanzania, but after a back injury forced her to leave that position, she came to South Africa, where she initially worked as a volunteer. She applied for the Rays of Hope Education Manager role in response to an advert, confident that her 40 years of teaching experience would equip her well for the job.

Motivated by the deep and long-lasting relationships she has built with pupils and their parents, Louise is still in touch with children that she worked with at the beginning of her tenure in this role. She’s been to the weddings of learners she’s worked with, and sadly, to funerals too. She has become known as a ‘mother’ – so much more than a teacher – to many who have been through the Rose-Act programme.

“An absolute highlight has been watching children grow in confidence as they’ve benefited from the programme – even more so than seeing children grow in academic ability,” she says. “Children that were too shy to participate are now confident enough to engage in classes, and that’s so rewarding.”

Rose-Act has been a platform for growth for those who have embraced all it has to offer. One of Louise’s other highlights was the young student who lived in a shack with four other people, who was so determined to pass her matric that she sat outside and did her homework leaning on a rock.

“It’s not fair that South African learners have to work in these conditions, and it’s tragic that children don’t have playgrounds at school, and that there are up to 70 learners in a class,” Louise says. “Despite the fact that these learners have so little, they’re expected to compete with school-leavers that have had so much more support during their school lives, but it’s inspiring to see how many Rose-Act graduates have risen above the significant challenges that they face.”

Louise is of retirement age and has to return to Australia, her original home, after a year of bidding farewell to Rose-Act and Rays of Hope. She intends to continue her commitment to working with disadvantaged children on her return, with a particular focus on Aboriginal communities.

Rays of Hope is so grateful to Louise for her years of commitment, passion and determination that have truly changed the lives of thousands of young South Africans. We wish you the very best for your new life back in Australia, but will miss your energy and inspiration so very much!