Love & Care

The day started off well, with a drive to a daycare centre , Love & Care, in Masiphumelela. The kids were great and they were full of energy. When we entered the facility, they sang a number of songs and I’ll have to admit it was really cute. The teacher of the school, Aurelia, is a very kind and loving person and after the singing we played games with them outside and had delicious melktert (milk tart) and they all enjoyed it. The kids were full of energy and they loved trying to climb on our shoulders. I was playing with one boy whose name was Umxholi, and all he wanted to show me his kickboxing, roundhouse-kicks, and all sorts of other fighting moves by implementing some of them on me. All in all, the daycare centre was really amazing and worthwhile and from that we learned many things such as lots of those kids are HIV positive and that some of those kids parents can’t afford to take care of the kids so they stay at the Love & Care centre.

After some fun and games with the kids we took the bus and went all the way downtown for some shopping. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the Cape and “shopping” there was like shopping in New York for me because the buildings look different and since the World Cup, the streets and places look new and there are far more tourists than I’ve seen before. We went to a market called the Pan African Market, where they sell African jewelry, traditional clothing, Sangoma masks, and fantastic artwork. It was great, and after the market we went to a “fine restaurant” called Wimpy. We had burgers, dogwoods and chips (fries). Some of the team members in our group kept calling Wimpy the South African version of McDonald’s, and I said to them, “The only difference between Wimpy and McDonalds, is that Wimpy serves food.” There was good sunny weather and great atmosphere.

After some shopping, our next stop was at Muizenburg beach. We stopped at the beach and, my gosh, there were so many surfers there. It was great and it made me miss surfing back in Durban. We walked along the beach at sunset, and it was really great. After the beach we went for dinner at Kalkies Fish & Chips. The meal was great, and when the waitress that was serving us was “hitting on” Papa G (Mr. Mayes) that was really funny. I loved the time when we were eating together, because that was a time where the whole group just got really close with each other and our group was really happy. After Fish & Chips, we went to Kalk Bay Theatre Sports (improv.) and it was really funny. The actors played fun and interesting improvisation games and I really enjoyed the theatre sports. I really have a passion for theatre and acting and that night was great. Our night and day was awesome and everyone enjoyed themselves.

~ Bongani M.

 

Penguins?!

I woke up early this morning with joy and excitement towards the day as I would be re-uniting with my friends from Shawnigan to show them my city. First stop was Cape Point where they could overlook the ocean, the view was amazing. After our visit to Cape Point we went to see African Penguins at Boulders Beach in Simonstown. I was happy my friend Karimah saw what she wanted after months of me teasing her by telling her there were no penguins in Cape Town. Then it was very special for me to take the team to my previous high school in Mitchell’s Plain, so they could see where I come from.  I think it was special for them, too, to experience what a high school in Cape Town is like. Today I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to share and embrace the beauty of Cape Town with my fellow classmates and friends.

~ Henry W.

Conservation Game Reserve

We have spent a delightful week at The Garden Route Game Reserve which has been established for 12 years by private owners who have an enthusiasm for wildlife and conservation. It was started as in an attempt “to restore an area of once degraded farmland to its former glory and stock it with game and vegetation that previously occurred there” prior to the crop farming. (http://www.grgamelodge.co.za/about-us/our-history/ ) The reserve operates with an emphasis on sustainable utilization and long term conservation of the “natural habitats and the rehabilitation of already degraded lands.” (ibid) It employs 65 staff, the majority of whom are from the local community.

Best practice for game reserves incorporates private sector investment and local communities. The aim being, to wherever possible, involve the local community in wealth creation through tourism, skills and training and to involve the local communities directly in the benefits of wildlife tourism and the protection of the natural environment.

The Garden Route Game Reserve not only operates game drives for ecotourism, it also invites individuals and groups such as ours to participate in many of the activities and workings of the reserve, as an opportunity to educate and participate in tasks that are necessary on the reserve. This is an excellent educational opportunity – to be a part of sustainable development in the making.

There are many aspects of sustainability on the reserve. The elephant feces are used on the large vegetable garden, which grows produce for a local soup kitchen. Wood that is torn down from trees by the elephants is collected and given to local senior citizens in Albertinia, a town a few kilometers away. Perhaps in the future the elephant dung will also be used to fire a sustainable heating system for the volunteer house. Another fuel related possibility in the near future is the use of biodiesel in the farm vehicles and game drive vehicles. There is also a proposal to create a “green zone” around the volunteer house; however, this will incorporate solar or wind energy, which at this time is still very expensive. The goal is to include the lodge area as an ecologically sustainable operation.

The lodge presently has a significant social capital by employing local people, and natural capital in the rehabilitation of the land and the animals. To include all of the Big Five animals on this reserve, it may never be able to be fully sustainable, since the land area of 3,000 acres is not sufficient for all of the varieties of animals.  For example, the lions need to be fed since they would reduce their prey population below sustainable levels. A lion requires 10,000 acres to sustain itself. The reserve also breeds cheetahs in captivity to help with the gene pool for cheetah rehabilitation. It is the fastest land animal in the world but it is losing the race for survival. From approximately 100,00 last century to 7,500 now, cheetah breeding is necessary to avoid extinction.

Whether a visitor is here for a day or a week or a month, the impact of conservation education is significant. We have certainly been extremely fortunate to have participated in this volunteer experience.