The kids at DAKTARI come to us for a week of environmental education and fun. They spend 5 days with our volunteers who teach them as much as possible. Besides topics about conservation, the lessons range from being polite to the different kind of jobs in a game reserve and even to safe sex.
During their week here the kids transform from very shy and introverted children to whom they really are. They spend their last night around the bonfire singing and dancing to their favourite songs. The morning after that, they get a few lessons and some free time before having the ending ceremony.
This ceremony is a moment where they all read their promises. But what are these promises? Well, during the week the children get a chance to reflect on what they find important for their country. They go over what they learned at DAKTARI and think for themselves what they value most. They then write their promises down and read them to the whole group during the ending ceremony on Friday morning.
We see a lot of the same promises returning over the different weeks like promising to protect animals from poachers or promising never to hurt others. But sometimes the kids add in their own things because they take these promises very seriously. One kid a few weeks ago for example promised that he would always take care of his mother. The promises act as a sort of medium for the children to really think about what they learned and to think about how they can turn this knowledge into actions to make South Africa a better place.
Besides reading the promises, the ceremony on Friday also includes choosing a winner of the week. The volunteers get a chance to choose a leader of the group who is then crowned the winner of the week. This winner is the student who tried hardest during the week, who was the most polite or the one who progressed most over the days. Being the winner of the week means they get an extra gift in their bag. Besides that they also get a tree to plant somewhere in the village and they are invited to go on a game drive with the other winners.
Every Friday, our volunteer teachers pick the weekly winner amongst the children that participated in our Environmental Education programme. As the most participative, respectful, involved, and curious students, the winners receive a gift along with a small tree to plant in their village. Every two to three months, DAKTARI also prepares a special treat for our weekly winners, so this September we took 10 most promising children from our education programme on a trip to Tshukudu Bush Camp for a day of exciting safari adventures.
Tshukudu Bush Camp is famous for its very human-friendly cheetah that was born in Tshukudu to her mother that was brought to the game lodge by the police after finding her being hand-raised in an apartment. When her 3 cubs were only six months old, the mother died and the cubs were hand-raised by the lodge staff in order to survive without their mother. The three cubs eventually grew up, but despite being free and not losing their natural instincts to hunt, they remain very friendly towards people. The children were excited to meet the famous cheetah and were even able to pet her. They also went on a safari drive, where they were happy to see two big white rhinos, giraffes, hippos, and other wild animals they don’t normally get a chance to see. The guide also told the children a lot of interesting facts about the animals, their importance for the environment and the dangers they are facing.
Seeing the sparkles in the children's eyes after a day of fun and adventure gives an extra boost of energy to the work we do and after every trip like this one we are even more determined to inspire the future generations to preserve the precious natural environment.
DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage works with local schools to educate children about the importance of protecting their environment. Each Monday, DAKTARI welcomes eight to ten new students to attend lessons and learn how to care of the wildlife and value their environment.
During this week, the kids learn about the environment with lesson about the impact of plastic on nature, anti-poaching, discovering the signs and tracks of the animals… At the end of the week, they make South Africa a better place lesson, in which they have to write down 6 promises that they are going to follow all their life. Those promises must be toward positive changes for themselves and the country, so they can proudly and directly be players of Making South Africa a better place.
During the lesson on the environment on every Tuesday, the volunteers make a little game with the children so they can understand better the impact of throwing rubbish on the ground for example. They have to guess how long it will take until rubbish like tin can or glass will break down to soil. The kids were very surprised to learn that certain things like plastics bottles are non-biodegradable and will never disappear. We know this lesson impacted them, because 7 of the 10 kids of the week chose to promise that they would never throw rubbish on the ground.
With your help we can continue to provide an education to these children so they learn about the impact of protecting and respecting the environment.
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