Rural community empowerment in South Africa

by DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage
Vetted
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:

Read all about our project changes!
Read all about our project changes!

Dear supporting friends,

Are you ready for Christmas? Including fir tree, crackers, Christmas songs and maybe some snow? Here in South Africa we have a whole other idea of Christmas… quite difficult to get into the ‘jingle bells spirit’ with 42 degrees Celsius and blue skies :-).

Anyway, I got loads of exciting news to tell you that has nothing to do with Christmas! First of all, did you check out the completely revamped project page already? ‘Environmental clubs for kids in South Africa’ has given way to ‘Rural community empowerment in South Africa’. Since DAKTARI’s Outreach Program is much more than just environmental clubs, we decided to create a comprehensive project supporting the whole Outreach Program. In this way, your donations will not only benefit EcoClub students, but the entire community, consisting of 3,500 residents. With only a small budget adjustment and efficient planning of village visits, we can provide more effective assistance to all walks of life. From career guidance to unemployed youngsters to implementing a waste management plan: it is all part of the project now.

However, if you wish to specifically support our environmental clubs, this is of course still possible and very much appreciated. You can choose this option in the donation selection menu on the main page of the project.

You might have seen a sneak peek of it on our Facebook page already… the brand new teaching programme we are running at two local crèches! A total of 120 toddlers ranging from 2 to 5 years now weekly participates in ‘playducational’ lessons about animals and the environment. They recently learnt what the Big 5 animals are and whether we can shoot them or not. ‘Aowa’ (Sotho for ‘no’) sounded in unison in the classroom… mission accomplished! After the December holidays we will kick off with a ‘Mr. Tree & Mrs. Plant’ lesson, excellently supported by the newly planted marula and moringa trees!

Do you remember the picture of plastic bottles filled with plastic rubbish I attached to the latest report? Well, these are so-called Ecobricks. We challenged primary and high school students to make these bricks for the benefit of their village. A win-win situation, because plastic litter goes into the bottles (cleaner environment!) and the Ecobricks will be used to build a big dustbin on the marketplace. 500 bricks are needed and we are almost there. Work in progress!

In October, we took the most improved learners from both EcoClubs on a trip to a wildlife rehabilitation centre. They were taken on a tour to meet abandoned, injured and poisoned wildlife animals that are being prepared to be released into the wild again. Candice, one of the eight students, said: ‘My favourite animal was the orphaned baby rhino. I hope one day he will live a long and happy life in the wild, where he belongs.’

It fills our hearts with warmth and happiness that we could count on your support in this eventful 2015. YOU are the reason that we can empower the wonderful communities that surround us towards a better future. Christmas is a time of reflecting and counting our blessings and we feel truly privileged to have someone like you in our DAKTARI family. Thank you so much for all you have done and may 2016 become yet another memorable year of achievements in the villages!

Wishing you a very merry Christmas and may all your dreams come true in 2016!

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 from the past months :-).

Guest lesson from a head game ranger: inspiring!
Guest lesson from a head game ranger: inspiring!
Making Gredia
Making Gredia's food caravan a real eye-catcher!
Animal interaction during the EcoClub trip
Animal interaction during the EcoClub trip
DAKTARI volunteers teaching at the creche
DAKTARI volunteers teaching at the creche
Advice & friends proudly bringing their Ecobricks
Advice & friends proudly bringing their Ecobricks

Links:

Footprints, poo and quills in de tracks lesson!
Footprints, poo and quills in de tracks lesson!

Dear supporting friends,

Wow, time went by so quickly… it is already September, can you believe it?!

The past few months were filled with a broad range of activities in the Eco Clubs and as pictures say more than a thousand words, I will let them do the talking ;). However, there are some exciting developments I am very eager to tell you about.

At first we are thrilled to inform that learners from the local primary schools are also finding their way to the environmental clubs. We welcome everyone who is keen to learn about animals and the environment, so we are very happy to have them!

Remember that I told you last time about the wallet we made from an old milk carton? Well, this lesson got a follow-up as we made wall art using old cardboard and ‘treasures from nature’ (i.e. stones & twigs). This all is nice and fun to do, but actually serves a greater purpose. We aim to make the students aware of the great possibilities of recyclable materials. In the local villages the communities face a large litter problem, which is a shame, since we all know that it is very important to live in a clean environment.

As another part of DAKTARI’s Outreach Programme, we are helping the communities with implementing rubbish management. Once this is done, it is more likely for visitors to stop by in the villages (which are located along main roads). At that very moment, the children can sell their 100% homemade curios, primarily made out of things that are considered as rubbish. All in all, crafting with recyclables now will pay off in the long run! And oh, we are also working on a ‘building with rubbish’ project with the learners but I will tell you all about that in the next report :). 

Last but not least I would like to raise awareness for a very special day for us. Wednesday the 16th of September, GlobalGiving is offering an opportunity that you do not want to miss! Every online donation will be 30% matched. $70 000 in matching is available, so be prepared! Matching begins at 9.00 AM EDT (South Africa: 3.00 PM – Europe: 3.00 PM – UK: 2.00 PM). On this day, your donation will even have a bigger impact on the underprivileged children; you can make the difference!

As you might know, in the past we already organized some environmentally oriented day trips and game drives for those underprivileged students that improved most in the clubs. These trips are essential in making the learners more conscious of their heritage and to take care of it: they provide the much needed practical component in addition to the theory covered in the lessons. Most children have never been able to see African wildlife, even though they live very close to numerous nature reserves. Your support will be amazingly appreciated in order to offer these excursions.

Let me end by giving a huge shout out to all of you generous donors. It is because of YOU that the environmental clubs can exist and flourish. On behalf of all underprivileged learners: ke leboga kudu (means ‘thank you very much’ in the local language; Sepedi)!

Best regards and until next time,

Toine Vos, Eco Club teacher and Outreach Programme Coordinator

Proud of their wall art!
Proud of their wall art!
Preparing their river pollution presentation
Preparing their river pollution presentation
The project I will tell you all about next time...
The project I will tell you all about next time...

Links:

Transforming milk cartons into wallets!
Transforming milk cartons into wallets!

Dear supporting friends,

I hope you all are well and enjoying a sunny summer… at least if you are living in the northern hemisphere. For the people in the southern hemisphere: better times are coming, as spring is on its way :).

The children of the Eco Club just went through a tough month, as they had to write exams. I am very glad to announce that they all survived and passed; well done all! The Eco Club was still alive & kicking, since the exams could not withhold most children from attending the Eco Club for even more education. A great reward for us as this shows once again how dear and important the environmental club is for the kids!

During the first lesson we worked on decorating our classroom to make it an even more inspiring and pleasant learning environment. We teamed up to hang curtains (early preparation for the summer to come!), attached some motivating quotes to the wall and did a big clean. Thanks to your generous gifts the classroom looks nice and fine again!

The next lesson was on advertising & media – something different and out of the box for Eco Club, but really important. We looked at tricky advertisements (even in their own village!) that use the ‘appeal to pity’ technique and watched convincing commercials. Although the media are tricky, we underlined that their techniques are not necessarily wrong or dishonest. Moreover, it is the person who uses a camera who decides what to show and what to leave out. The kids really are now aware of the hazards and secrets of the advertisers. Mission accomplished!

We also talked about rubbish, for example the ‘RRRC-principle’: reduce, re-use, recycle and compost. We discussed the rubbish problem in the local village. The children understand the problem and would love to use dustbins instead of burning their waste. We emphasized that, although it seems very difficult, they are the ones who can make a change. As Nelson Mandela said: “It always seems impossible, until it is done.”

We ended the lesson with crafting wallets… out of old milk cartons! The children never saw this before and were surprised of what you can do with this regular type of waste. The hard work was rewarded, as it resulted in some beautiful and useful wallets.

A Dutch take-over at the next Eco Club! Four Dutch volunteers (including myself) introduced the children to the country of windmills, wooden shoes and tulips. Next to topography and the national anthem, we played Old Dutch games, such as sack race and T-shirt hanging. We ended the lesson with an estimation quiz. Do you for example know how far the walk from The Netherlands to The Oaks village is? Or how many times the Netherlands fits in South Africa? No? Look it up ;). The children as well as the volunteers had loads of fun. As we would say in the Netherlands: een geslaagde les! The students now enjoy their well-deserved holidays!

Thank you friends, for your continued support. We are thinking of you and cannot emphasize enough that your donation is more than precious. We still have many ideas and so much more we would like to accomplish! For example, we are planning to do more crafting, for which stationary is needed. Moreover, for the children to visualize how decomposition of different materials works, we would like to make a solid decomposition box so that they can follow the process day by day.

Best regards and take care,

Toine Vos, Eco Club teacher and Outreach Programme Coordinator

Working together for a prettier classroom
Working together for a prettier classroom
Ready, set... GO! The Dutch games were a success.
Ready, set... GO! The Dutch games were a success.
Advertising VS reality: does it meet expectations?
Advertising VS reality: does it meet expectations?
Crafting wallets is harder than it seems
Crafting wallets is harder than it seems

Links:

This feels like coming home -  a warm welcome!
This feels like coming home - a warm welcome!

Dear supporting friends,

You are probably very curious about what we did last month at the Eco Club, am I right :-)? I will tell you all about it, of course, but at first I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Toine Vos and since the beginning of May, I am in charge of DAKTARI’s Outreach Programme. This means also that for the next year, I will be teaching the children at Eco Club, which is without a doubt already the best part of my job. It is amazing to enlarge DAKTARI’s educational impact at the local schools and it really touches me that the children come voluntarily to learn more about the environment and wildlife.

So, what have we been up to the past month? The first lesson was a sad lesson, as Sara, our previous Eco Club teacher, said goodbye to the children. In a relatively short time she managed to built a great relationship with them of which I can only dream of. Her farewell lesson was about music and we learnt about the background of musicology and how music can be linked to animals. For example, did you ever hear of zoomusicology?! In the end, everyone could do a little performance. Even the shiest kids took the ‘stage’ and everyone applauded for each other, resulting in a visible confidence boost to the children. Priceless!

My first own lesson was about animal cognition and the goal was to learn that animals are smarter than one thinks. We read about birds, chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants, supported by video material of particular smart animals. As soon as the children saw the video of an elephant painting a beautiful tree, they were blown away. Mission completed.

Another Eco Club was dedicated to animal populations and their dynamics. All credits for the suggestion of this topic go to Thomas, a smart boy from grade 10 who wished to learn more about populations. After the introduction of the word populations, we discussed J-curves, S-curves and the food chain. Especially the girls did a good job by being very concentrated and active during the class. However, I have to say, the boys should not go unmentioned either. Tyras for example dared to be a teacher for a moment by explaining to his classmates the predator-prey relationship. And he really nailed it! Afterwards, the students did exercises on the topic, assisted by short-term DAKTARI volunteers and I. The individual attention made them visibly feel special and they all seemed to understand it. In the end, Thomas and some other kids came to tell me that they learnt a lot this week. That is the greatest reward you can get as a teacher!

Every six months the most improved children of each Eco Club get a reward, as a way to encourage all of them to do their very best. Thanks to your generosity, this is possible, for which the children and we are really thankful. However, I thought it might be good to involve the children in the fundraising process. Of course, this is only symbolic, but very valuable for example to develop their marketing skills. We started by talking about income and expenses of an NGO such as DAKTARI and made up a couple of awesome ideas to raise funds. Some kids will bake and sell cookies, whereas others will do bob-a-jobs for their friends and family. The process is supervised by Nanatjie and Jeremia; the respective chairman and treasurer. The majority of the students seem to be excited to rock this project. Definitely to be continued!

Last but not least, I would like to thank all of you who support the Eco Club from the bottom of my heart. Like I said, I have only been teaching the Eco Club for one month, however I can already firmly state that this education really makes a change for the children and hence the animals and environment. That is what motivates us and where we do it for; now and in the future!

Take care and I am looking forward to updating you about the Eco Club the coming 11 months.

Best regards,

Toine Vos, Eco Club teacher and Outreach Programme Coordinator

Concentration during the animal cognition class
Concentration during the animal cognition class
Teacher Tyras takes over the populations class :-)
Teacher Tyras takes over the populations class :-)
Koketso - she made a lot of progress last month
Koketso - she made a lot of progress last month

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
$5,567 raised of $19,848 goal
 
159 donations
$14,281 to go
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