Rural community empowerment in South Africa

by DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage
Vetted
Testing their water wheel design
Testing their water wheel design

It's a brand new year for the Eco Clubs, and with it comes a brand new approach! Building off of UNESCO's Environmental Education activities, we have developed a hands-on curriculum that lets the students learn by doing. Each week the students will engage in an experiment, demonstration, or other activity focused on the environment. Our past experience has shown that the students respond more positively to this style of teaching, and we're anticipating that this approach will make our lessons more effective. So far, the students have built model greenhouses to observe the greenhouse effect in action, measured the rate of photosynthesis in spinach leaves, and built water wheels to harness the power of water!

Our goal for the year is to standardize a curriculum that can be improved upon each year. We have developed a measuring and evaluation system that involves direct student feedback for each lesson. We now have objective measures to evaluate how well they learn the subject each week, letting us see what works and what doesn't. This will let us improve on the curriculum, not only for this year but also in the future.

And the results? The average attendance for the first 4 lessons was 22 at Maahlamele High School, and a spectacular 51 at Rakgolokwana High School! Both of these averages are more than double last year's. 88% of students show comprehension of the subject, and 90% report having enjoyed the lesson. We're hoping that these trends continue as the year goes forward.

Take a look at the pictures for some of the fun the students are having. Without YOUR donations, we would not have the opportunity to reach as many students as we do. THANK YOU!

Measuring the greenhouse effect
Measuring the greenhouse effect
Building a water wheel
Building a water wheel
50 attendees on the first day!
50 attendees on the first day!
Ashandy at her second-to-last Eco Club
Ashandy at her second-to-last Eco Club

It's the end of the year for Eco Clubs, and while the party was fun and exciting, it also means we have to say goodbye to our graduating seniors.  Ashandy, who was unanimously voted the Eco Club president this year, is one of those graduating seniors.  She exemplifies everything we hope to see in an Eco Club member: well-spoken, very polite, always attentive, and a natural leader.  Ashandy has been devoted to the Eco Club since Grade 8, not missing a single meeting in 2014 or 2015!  The new President next year will have big shoes to fill!

We asked the students to tell us a bit more about their Eco Club experience and tell us how to make it better. Here is what Ashandy had to say:

What do you like about Eco Club?

I like the activities and the people we meet and also make friends with the volunteers.

What did you learn in Eco Club?

I learnt to be confident always.  I learnt to respect nature and also to coserve biodiversity.  I learnt to be a leader as I was the eco-club president.

How can you take care of the environment in your village?

By cleaning up the trash.  By building dustbins.  By planting more trees.

How can you take care of animals in your village?

Give them food when their hungry.  Give them a nice cool bath when their dirty.  Provide shelter for them.


After matric, Ashandy is planning to go to college to study tourism and travel, and then off to TUT University to study nature conservation.  We will miss her and wish her all the best! 

Without YOUR generous donations, we wouldn't be able to help students like Ashandy reach their full potential.  THANK YOU!

If you would like to make an impact on another DAKTARI project, we are busy fundraising for our animal care project in December. As an added bonus, donations to all of our projects will be matched at 50% on #GivingTuesday, November 29th, starting at 7am South Africa time. 

Until next time!

Ashandy
Ashandy
Ashandy playing at the Eco Club party
Ashandy playing at the Eco Club party

Links:

Tebatso (left) and Kagiso
Tebatso (left) and Kagiso

Today I'd like to relate the story of Kagiso and Tebatso, two Eco Club members who have shown tremendous artistic talent.  The boys, who are long time participants of Eco Club, were inspired last year by the lesson "Art and Recycling", during which they discovered their talent in making animals out of recycled wire.  They went home and surprised us the next week with an ostrich, elephant, giraffe, impala, monkey, and shark, all first drawn on paper and then perfectly copied into bends of the wire!

Later, during the rainy summer weeks, they began making clay animals.  They collect and form clay into the shape of an animal, bake it in a homemade kiln, and paint it.  Their portfolio is very impressive: everything from rhinos and elephants, to kudu, warthog, and even porcupines! 

Last month, DAKTARI and the NPO Nourish were able to provide an opportunity for the young men to sell their creations at the local farmer's market in Hoedspruit.  After some initial shyness, they opened up and were spectacular salesmen.  The sold many of the animals; customers were especially taken by the detailing of the porcupines! 

Kagiso and Tebatso's animals are now on display at DAKTARI, as well as at a local Craft Shop.  They have realized that they can work hard and use their natural artistic talent to have fun, and get an income too!  Kagiso, who will be in the 12th grade next year, has expressed an interest in pursuing an Art Degree after high school.

DAKTARI is incredibly proud of everything the boys have accomplished, and we THANK YOU, our fantastic donors, for allowing us to help these young artists. 

I'll leave you with a letter directly from Kagiso:

Daktari and the eco-club made this possible, without daktari and the eco-club today i would not be making those beautiful animals. So thank you for bringing the eco-club to us and get a chance to learn new thing every week and I am greatful for knowing daktari. If it wasn't for your love and care, see and knowing about the environment and animals would not be possible. So thank you and all the volunteers at daktari, we are were we are because of you.

From: Kagiso

Animals made from Recycled Wire
Animals made from Recycled Wire
The artists at the Farmer
The artists at the Farmer's Market
A sampling of their clay animals
A sampling of their clay animals
The Rakgolokwana Eco Club officers!
The Rakgolokwana Eco Club officers!

Hello! My name is Micah and I am the new Outreach Volunteer at DAKTARI. Sadly, Toine's time here came to an end in April, leaving me with very big shoes to fill - the Eco Club members called DAKTARI at all hours of the day asking when Toine would be back!

The members of the Eco Clubs at both schools, Maahlamele and Rakgolokwana, are passionate and eager to start new community projects. After a lesson about Democracy and voting, they held Eco Club officer elections! The officers are responsible for the planning and organization of all Eco Club community projects. Each candidate stood in front of the other members and gave a speech explaining why they should be elected, resulting in some very close races. The officers couldn't wait to get going, and as a result they've already scheduled a tree planting at Maahlamele!

In April, Toine and the Eco Club completed the Building With Rubbish campaign by building an environmentally friendly dustbin at the Oaks village! The Eco Club members stuffed two-liter bottles with rubbish from around the village, which were then used as bricks to build a dustbin at the center of town. It's a recycling project that promotes waste management, and it looks great too!

And the survey results are in! We interviewed 102 individuals, representing 667 people, from our local Oaks village, 91% of whom say that DAKTARI makes a difference in their village!  Without the support from YOU, our awesome donors, this would never be possible - THANK YOU!

If you are interested in continuing to support DAKTARI's community outreach program, we encourage you to make your donation through GlobalGiving on June 15th at 9am EDT. GlobalGiving will be matching donations to our projects at 50% at 9am EDT and so your donation will go even further!

Mavis giving her speech for Eco Club Secretary
Mavis giving her speech for Eco Club Secretary
The finished EcoBrick dustbin at the Oaks
The finished EcoBrick dustbin at the Oaks
Posing with their own handmade jewellery!
Posing with their own handmade jewellery!

Dear supporting friends,

Mother Nature is on our side again… after a considerable period of drought, we finally received some good rains the past few days! Even though 2015 and the start of 2016 were drier than ever, the rain is great news in terms of collection of drinking water and growing crops. So, nature has done its share, but what is it that DAKTARI has accomplished over the past months? Well…

Our EcoClubs started with a blast. We welcomed no less than 70 eager students in the first environmental lesson of this year at Rakgolokwana Secondary School. We just started working with this school, which provides education to around 700 students. Because of its central location in our Sekororo area, we are now even better able to spread the word about animals and the environment to the communities.

“I see rubbish, I see rubbish, clean it up, clean it up…” is our new #1 single in the crèches! During the theme ‘A clean village’ we taught the toddlers about rubbish monsters that like to eat paper, plastic and tins. After a rubbish collection walk, each and everyone got the chance to feed the monsters. Of course, a theme is not a theme without a song, and so a hit was born. We are currently busy with the ‘Hungry Caterpillar theme’ which covers the days of the week, counting from 1 tot 10, names of different food items in English and the transformation into a butterfly. The kids can’t get enough of the story!

How can we make our impact measurable? We have been struggling with this for a while now, but when the GlobalGiving team gave us some tools to implement a feedback strategy, we came into action. With help of a professional (who happened to come and volunteer at DAKTARI) we created a 46-question survey covering notoriety, education, wildlife, tourism and DAKTARI questions. 100 households, reaching 667 people, were interviewed. We are in the process of analyzing the results and we strive to present you some results in the next report!

One of the goals of our Outreach Program is to create an ecofriendly, touristic village, where tourists can mingle with locals in their community. To achieve this, the village has to be attractive and something to offer, such as souvenirs. In February, we organised a paper beads workshop for a group of 12 women. Old magazines, knives, glue and toothpicks are the only necessities to create the greatest beads for all kinds of jewellery. Cheap to make and easy to sell – the perfect souvenir! A next workshop on making even better beads as well as bead handbags is already planned. Let’s get creative!

Without your generosity, the Outreach Program wouldn’t have been able to flourish and grow; I cannot thank you enough! As I am leaving in one month, this will probably be the last project report from me. I would like to sincerely thank you for your continued support and enabling the work I and we have been doing since 2011 to uplift the communities. Cheers to way more years of community work and I hope to meet up with you one day, maybe even at DAKTARI. Farewell, and please know that you have a very special place in my heart!

On behalf of the entire DAKTARI team,

Toine Vos, Outreach Program Coordinator

PS: There is more! Please scroll down to the pictures to discover some other highlights and developments of the past months :-).

Cleaning the creche property; part of the theme!
Cleaning the creche property; part of the theme!
Packed with learners, amazing start!!!
Packed with learners, amazing start!!!
It
It's all paper - could you tell?!
Visting houses to carry out surveys!
Visting houses to carry out surveys!
Game ranger Tish explaining food pyramids!
Game ranger Tish explaining food pyramids!

Links:

 

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Organization Information

DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage

Location: Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province - South Africa
Website: http:/​/​www.daktaribushschool.org
Project Leader:
Micah Heineck
Outreach Volunteer
Hoedspruit, Limpopo South Africa
$6,733 raised of $19,848 goal
 
184 donations
$13,115 to go
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