Educated in East Sussex: Pestalozzi students have gone on to achieve great success
Big cats are being protected in Zambia, street children are being taught in Indonesia and an earthquake early warning system is being developed for Nepal – all thanks to the work of a Sussex charity.
Pestalozzi International Village Trust in Sedlescombe is celebrating the achievements of its alumni who are creating ripples of change across the world.
The charity supports high achieving low income students from disadvantaged countries, helping them to complete their secondary education. Many studied at Sussex Coast College, Hastings during the last 20 years.
According to Pestalozzi’s Chief Executive, Sue Walton former Pestalozzi students are really making a worthwhile difference in their chosen spheres of work. She said: "Our extraordinary alumni are working in institutions such as the United Nations and the World Bank and in fields ranging from medical research and environmental conservation to engineering, healthcare and education.”
Pestalozzi is highlighting the inspiring stories of some of the young people in a digital fundraising campaign, documenting their work and achievements. The campaign is running on Pestalozzi’s Facebook and Twitter channels until June 28.
The success stories of Thandiwe Mweetwa, Roy Chrismantika Simamora, Pratiksha Sharma and Laxmi Rajak – who were all educated at Sussex Coast College, Hastings - show that if you work hard your dreams can become a reality.
Thandiwe is currently working in Zambia as an animal conservationist addressing threats to the survival of lions and other carnivores in eastern Zambia, in order to protect the animals and their habitat.
She has also been a shining light in engaging local youth to consider careers in conservation-based projects by setting up the Women in Wildlife Conservation Training Programme in 2016.
Roy from Indonesia was a student at Pestalozzi from 2015 – 2017. He
travelled to Bali earlier this year as a volunteer to teach English to street children.
When he discovered some of children were unable to go to school because their parents needed them to work in the fields, in the market or on the street, Roy agreed he would provide them with food so that he could teach them. He worked in a restaurant and saved the tips to buy food for the children.
In 2015 Pratiksha Sharma was studying at Duke University in North Carolina when a severe earthquake struck Nepal. Pratiksha felt compelled to help.
She raised relief funds but also realised the absence of any early warning of the earthquake had contributed to the death toll. She thought this was an area where she might be able to help.
Pratiksha was taking a double major in electrical and computer engineering and computer science and decided to undertake a project focused on creating a sensor that could reliably detect an earthquake in time to alert nearby residents.
Three years later Pratiksha has designed advanced algorithms to detect pressure waves that travel through the Earth’s surface and developed prototype devices that provide an early warning.
Laxmi Rajak left Pestalozzi in 2011 and went on to Duke University in the US to study International Comparative Studies and Mathematics.
There she helped set up an initiative for Nepali high school students focused on experiential education, civic engagement, leadership development, and college access. Since 2014, the programme of a week-long summer camp followed by year-long mentorship has expanded to eight schools around Kathmandu and Pokhara with more than 150 camp participants.
Since 2015 Laxmi has worked for Teach Nepal. The organisation aims to provide quality education for Nepali students.
She said: "It brought me very close to their dreams, their struggles and their resilience and it was very powerful to witness the collective effort on the lives of the children we worked with.”
Laxmi said: "I would never be where I am today without the educational opportunities I received. So, I am using what I have to change other people’s lives for the better.”