Thank you so much for your continued support of Daktari! We are currently working with our last group of children for 2011, and are excited to say that we have welcomed 387 children for week-long stays this year! Those 387 children had the opportunity to work one-on-one with an amazing group of international volunteers, take care of injured and orphaned animals, and make a commitment to make South Africa a better place. We couldn't do it without our sponsors, so thank you from all of us!
I also wanted to update you a bit on some special things we are able to do with the children each week. One of the coolest things we do is to take the children every Wednesday morning to Makalali, which is a private game lodge that borders our land. The rangers there take the children around behind the scenes where they are able to meet all the different people that are employed at the lodge. Before they leave they have a short lesson with the volunteers called “Job Opportunities,” where they learn about the different jobs, the type of training and education required for each, and the correlation between staying in school and making a higher salary. This lesson and the experience at Makalali are especially important in this area because jobs in ecotourism are prevalent, and the children do not usually know that they exist. The kids brainstorm a ton of questions before they leave, and have the chance to ask the employees at Makalali all about their jobs. It's also a great chance for them to look for wildlife out of the open air vehicles and they yell, “STOP!” every time they see a new animal! They are so excited when they see these wild animals for the first time.
We have one other bit of exciting news – thanks to our Global Giving donors (spurred by a fundraising campaign from our current American Volunteer Coordinator) we raised over R30,000 to re-do the roof of our kitchen and lounge before the rains hit! We now have a tile roof in place of our old thatched roof full of holes – and now there is a dry place for the kids to spend time when it is raining outside!
It has been an incredible and exciting year here at Daktari. The volunteers, the animals, and especially the children thank you for your support! Have a wonderful holiday season, we look forward to updating you again in the new year!
Thanks to everyone who has donated so far, we have been able to make some progress with the development of our Eco Clubs and our work with the children of the local village! We were able to start our second Eco Club at Maahlamele Secondary School, in The Oaks Village. They meet twice a week after school and our Outreach Manager attends the meeting every Thursday to support them with their goals. Already there are around thirty-five members of the club who are so excited to learn more about the environment, animals, and ways to help their community!
We also organized a meeting with the Ramatau Eco Club and Childline. Childline is a non-profit organization in South Africa that provides guidance and information for children. They also have a crisis hotline children can call for free twenty-four hours a day if they need advice or assistance with any problems in their lives. Three representatives from Childline attended the meeting, and took turns speaking to the group about HIV/AIDS, peer pressure, and the different forms of abuse. The children were enthusiastic, and said afterwards that they learned a lot!
One of the Ramatau Eco Club’s ideas was to visit other schools around their village and tell them about the importance of taking care of the environment. One of the children in the Eco Club, Grace, has a younger brother attending primary school, and she took the initiative to contact the school and arrange a day when they could go and speak to every grade. Four girls from Ramatau went with the Outreach Manager to the primary school, where they started in Grade 7 and worked their way down to the littlest kids. They talked about how important it is to throw all your trash in a trashcan, why they shouldn't cut down trees or kill animals, and about how pollution is bad for the Earth. They even talked about noise pollution! It was a great opportunity for the kids to share what they have learned, and as a reminder for the younger children to be aware of the environment and their community.
We are happy to be making progress with our goals, but have so much more we would like to accomplish! We have three more schools to start Eco Clubs in, and a lot more ideas for things we can do with the kids! We are still especially looking for funds for a vehicle so that we no longer have to rent a car for our Outreach Manager to travel to the villages and work with the clubs.
We organised our first clean up in Metz village!
At 11.00 the Daktari volunteers met twenty enthusiastic kids at the taxi rank in Metz village. To set the tone, we started off by singing together, followed by talking about littering and how long it takes plastic to break down (10.000 years!). Mokgadi, from the Maruleng municipality, came and brought us 40 garbage bags and gloves. The volunteers and kids cleaned the whole taxi rank as well as about 3 kilometres of street towards Ramatau School, and it looked fabulous! When we finished we had 65 full garbage bags! To celebrate, we took the kids for a soft drink at the dam, with a beautiful view of the mountains. We are very proud of all their hard work!
We also had our first official meeting with the Ramatau Wildlife Club! Until we have enough funding for a car of our own, we will borrow Daktari’s once a month to attend a Wildlife Club meeting. The Ramatau Wildlife club consists of 25 very enthusiastic members! For our first visit we had a brainstorming session where the children told us all of their ideas for what they want to change in their community. They came up with some great ideas! For example, they want to set up a recycling centre and plant trees at their school, and make sure there are enough dustbins in their community so people will not litter. Daktari’s next step is to start looking for sponsors who can support the project with funds, knowledge or materials. It feels so good to help these children make a difference!