All posts by Sophie Neville

About Sophie Neville

Writer and charity fundraiser

EIMS sponsor Dignity Dreams sanitary pads for school pupils

School Nurse Grace Ismail of the Northern Education Trust, whose salary is provided by The Waterberg Trust, reported that pupils in the Waterberg were struggling to find the money to buy sanitary towels. In 2018, The Waterberg Trust were able to donate a number of disposable pads but a permanent solution needed to be found. Some girls were missing more than five days of lessons a month and their academic results were being effected.

Verita Shikwambana, Andrew Smith, Sophie Neville, Ivy Rachele and School Nurse Grace Ismail at Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater

On Thursday 24th January, Andrew Smith of EMIS (Environmental Impact Management Services) in Johannesburg kindly drove Verita Shikwambana from the NGO Dignity Dreams up to Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater to meet Life Orientation teacher Ivy Rachele and School Nurse Grace Ismail.

Verita Shikwambana of  the not-for profit organisation Dignity Dreams

After being a short meeting with the Headmaster,  Verita Shikwambana of Dignity Dreams gave a talk on sex education and menstrual health to about ninety schoolgirls before introducing the concept of eco-friendly, washable sanitary pads.

Packs of 3 day time pads, 3 night time pads, a zip-lock bag and cotton carrier bag

Dignity Dreams manufacture multi-use pads that are designed to be washed in cold water with Sunlight soap, rinsed in salt water and dried in the sun. The packs of six are carefully made by hand and last four or five years. Lessons need no longer be missed. Girls gain in confidence and are free to achieve their potential in life.

Artist Susie Airy, who has raised funds for TWT by selling her paintings, helped to distribute one pack to each learner. ‘I wish my daughters could have heard such an interesting talk when they were at school,’ she said later. ‘It was wonderful to take part in this project.’

Nurse Grace, TWT Trustee Sophie Neville and pupils with the packs of Dignity Dreams

The girls were amazed to hear that the packs were theirs to keep and for them alone. Nurse Grace will be reporting back on how well the scheme goes and see if the pads can be made locally. Dignity Dreams provide lessons for those keen to sew at home as an employment scheme initiative and encourage tailors to sell to adults.

Very many thanks to Andrew Smith of Environmental Impact Management Services who sponsored 96 packs and drove the consignment up from Pretoria, along with the speaker. The Waterberg Trust was able to match his donation to provide a total of 210 packs so all the girls in one secondary school could be equipped. The other state secondary school in the Waterberg has about 300 girls who are also in need of sanitary pads and of course new girls arrive every year. Horizon Horseback Safaris have kindly given a donation of disposable pads to help keep the girls supplied but we need a permanent solution.

It costs approximately £10 to give one pack of six sanitary pads to a schoolgirl in the Waterberg and yet it can have life-changing consequences. If you would like to give one pack , or perhaps one pack a month, please click here for details on how to make a donatation.

We noticed that Nurse Grace needs a hospital screen on wheels, so that she can conduct examinations in private. She also needs a new office chair or these old ones to be repaired. Is there anyone in Vaalwater who could help?

 

Highlights of The 5th Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, 2019

 

Skies looked threatening at the start of The 5th Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride but the game viewing was excellent with herds of zebra and antelope enjoying lush grass.

The ride was hosted by Ant’s Nest who had prepared some of their best horses for what proved to be a 208 kilometre marathon.

Since Ant’s horses usually graze in the bush we were able to get exceptionally close wildlife while riding around the property.

Riders were able to observe rare breeds such as Livingstone eland and sable antelope.

We made our way up to Ant’s Hill in search of rhino, finding the dominant male.

Jessica Babich of Save The Waterberg Rhino gave riders a talk on how funds raised by TWT are being used to install high-tech security equipment to combat poaching.

Early on 31st January, everyone was ready to cross the Waterberg, heading north towards the Palala River.

The horses wore head-collars, lead ropes and long-distance saddles for the journey.

Ant Baber led the team of twelve ladies who soon found themselves passing one of his breeding herds of Cape buffalo.

We then rode through neighbouring game reserves, crossing wide open plains where wildebeest and blesbok roam.

Lunch was taken at the Waterberg Living Museum established by Clive Walker and his son Anton Walker, who showed us around. They have a room dedicated to information on rhinos and the poaching situation.

The Waterberg Trust has donated picnic tables, benches and information boards to this centre of environmental education created for local schoolchildren and visitors.

We rode on, spotting giraffe, impala, blesbok and golden wildebeest as we made our way

through another reserve to spend the night at Waterberg Cottages on Triple B Ranch.

It is home for the Baber family who began rearing cattle in the Waterberg in the 1880’s.

There was a solar-heated pool to relax sore muscles and reviving ginger drinks for all.

Dinner was served on the veranda of the farmhouse built by Ant’s grandfather in 1928.

The next morning, we rode through the traditional Transvaal farm, passing herds of Bonsmara stud cattle.

Summer rain had filled some of the twenty-two dams built by Ant’s father.

We cantered down through woodland, where baboons could be heard barking, and stopped for breakfast at Horizon Horseback Safaris where hippo were in residence.

After crossing plains inhabited by ostrich, we reached another lake on the Melkrivier.

Egyptian geese,  African fish eagle and rare spur-winged geese flew up as we passed by.

We crossed through an old cattle farm and cantered along red roads to Lindani game reserve where we stopped for lunch at a dam where crocodile are known to flourish.

After a relaxed lunch, when we could rest the horses, we rode into more hilly country.

Lindani game reserve has a high population of giraffe, warthog and other plains game.

Two nights were spent at Motseng Lodge where the horses enjoyed excellent grazing.

This enabled us to pay a visit to Lapalala Wilderness School where we met a python and

enjoyed a game drive on Lapalala Wilderness before exploring a remote corner of Lindani on horseback.

Crossing reed-choked stream beds could be challenging but the horses were brave.

One of the highlights of the ride was reaching the crest of the Buffleshoek escarpment.

After coming across giraffe, we dismounted to descend through thick vegetation for a couple of miles.

It was difficult to believe we had brought thirteen horses down the towering cliff face.

After perhaps the greatest of many long canters up the sandy tracks of the Waterberg

the riders made it to Jembisa game reserve where, after following oryx though seringa woodland,

the team was greeted by chilled champagne set out under a tree.

Our goal had been reached, the ride had ended. Most riders had spent a total of 38 hours in the saddle over 7 days: quite an achievement.

~Photographs by Ant Baber who led The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2019~

The next day, riders were able to visit Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding where we met children who had benefited from TWT’s grant to the ‘Back to School’ project and handed over a donation of sports clothes and underwear for Nurse Grace to distribute. She updated us on how successful Dignity Dreams sanitary packs were proving in enabling  schoolgirls to remain in lessons whilst they have their periods.

TWT Trustees saw some of the 24 security camera erected to combat rhino poaching in the Waterberg and discussed plans to install more of these effective deterrents.

Very many thanks to Ant’s Nest and Jembisa who hosted the ride and enabled so many of us to visit community projects in the Waterberg.

The 5th Waterberg Trust Ride proves a great success!

~The 5th Waterberg Trust Ride reaches Jembisa on the Palala River on 2nd February 2019~

12 TWT supporters rode across  7 different game reserves in 6 days covering 208 kilometres to raise funds for Save The Waterberg Rhino and community projects that uplift young people in this corner of rural South Africa.

If you would like to add a donation, however small, please click here for TWT’s Justgiving page 

With many thanks to Ant Baber who led the ride, all those at Ant’s Nest, Waterberg Cottages, Lindani and Jembisa Private Game Reserve where the expedition ended with a full gallop down the airfield.

~Thirteen tired riders completing the 208 km ride across the Waterberg in South Africa~

 

 

Up-date on TWT’s support for Save The Waterberg Rhino

~White rhino, their horns micro-chipped and saturated in poison, are under 24-hour armed guard~
The Chairman of The Waterberg Trust  reports, ‘Having just returned from the Waterberg, I can confirm that the The Waterberg Trust security container is being used by the Waterberg Security Initative at the Living Museum.’
~Some of the WSI rangers~
‘We met one of the guards there and saw how the container is used as a staging post for security patrols.’ These run through the night. This security container was bought with funds raised on The 2016 Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride.

~A patrol vehicle outside a security container purchased with funds raised by TWT riders~

As a result of funds raised on the The Waterberg Challenge Ride 2017 and a dinner held at Southill Park by kind invitation of the Whitbreads in November 2017, a significant grant was made to Save the Waterberg Rhino for the installation of LPR cameras to cover what is know as the Dorset/Palala/Melkrivier security cluster. This includes all the reserves traversed this Janaury on The 2019 Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride.

The cluster will be run by the Waterberg Security Initiative (WSI) who are responsible for utilising the sophisticated software that highlights any suspicious activity. It records evidence and prompts security patrols to apprehend potential criminals.

The increased level of security will not only help in the fight against rhino poaching but also combats other crime in the Waterberg.

~Substantial posts being planted on which LPR cameras are mounted in the Waterberg~
The License Plate Recognition cameras purchased with a substantial grant from The Waterberg Trust are all installed and are live. They use highly sophisticated technology, operating 24/7 to monitor vehicles in the area.  Cameras in the neighbouring Greater Marakele Cluster are also being installed and should be live next week, thanks to a grant from TUSK.
Since The Waterberg Trust is a UK registered charity we can apply for grants in the UK, accept CAF cheques and add Gift Aid to maximise donations to Save The Waterberg Rhino. If you would like to help financially, please click here.
If you would like to get involved and support TWT in other ways, please contact us in the comments, below. To read more about Save The Waterberg Rhino, please click here. 
Save The Waterberg Rhino

The Waterberg Trust Christmas Bazaar 2019

Sarah's Christmas cake

The TWT Christmas Bazaar on Tuesday 11th December went well, helping TWT riders raise funds as the deadline approaches for the TWT Challenge Ride. They will be leaving the UK on 24th January 2019.

Belinda's Beaded dog collars

There were amazing gifts on offer, including B Vibrant’s beaded belts and dog collars. Libby Blakey Interiors brought a fascinating selection of African themed candles, table mats and bags.

Libby's Christmas candles

Other stallholders included Foreman and Dring, The Corner Shop at Woolhampton, Fino Oilve Oil, Polkadot Parsley and the accomplished artist Lale Guralp. Sophie Neville was there signing books and had a selection of greetings cards available:

Rhino cards for sale 2018

TWT supporters made Christmas cakes, damson vodka, apple chutney.

Christmas chutney

Framed pictures and table decorations were also sold to raise funds for projects in the Waterberg.

Christmas wreath by Catherine Lovell

A number of supporters came along to learn how to make Christmas wreaths with The White Horse Flower Company. You can see examples of wreaths made last year by clicking here. If you would like to book a place for 2019, please email bchaffer@btinternet.com

TWT Wreath making 10

We still one of Elfinglen’s beautiful trays and Clive Walker’s South African wildlife prints for sale. If you would like to purchase one, please email bchaffer@btinternet.com

limited-edition-watercolour-of-rhino-on-an-elfinglen-tray

 

The gift of a vegetable garden

The environmental consulting company Environmental Impact Management Services (EIMS), based in Gauteng, has made the astonishing gift of a vegetable garden to aid Nurse Grace in her work teaching life orientation skills at Meetsetshehla Secondary School at Vaalwater in the Waterberg.

Andrew Smith and his team of twenty environmental scientists wanted to contribute to the work of The Waterberg Trust by making a gift of their know-how before spending a weekend in the African bush.

We never guessed that they would arrive with 33 bags of compost.

The staff and pupils gratefully accepted trays of lettuce, spinach, beetroot and onion seedlings as well as a variety of much-needed seeds. ‘I was speechless,’ Nurse Grace said. It was an answer to prayer. They even brought seed markers.

EIMS also donated garden netting, watering cans, tools and ordered treated poles from a local supplier so that pupils could erect shade-netting to protect the seedlings from birds and drying out in the sun.

The team from Environmental Impact Management Services also bought a year-planner and books that provide information and advice on when to plant and how to gain optimum productivity.  Nurse Grace said, ‘We learnt a lot about keeping vegetables healthy and effective planting methods.’

School exams were in progress but the team were able to meet some of the pupils and explain how best to sustain the vegetable garden established by Nurse Grace a year ago. While Meetsstshehla has been acknowledged as a leading Green School in the Limpopo Province, nurse Grace plans to share the vision with other schools that she visits in the Waterberg.

Nurse Grace had time to discuss other plans for the community. Environmental Impact services are generously donating 95 packs of washable sanitary pads so that all the Grade 8 school girls can participate fully in school activities. A team from Dignity Dreams  in Pretoria will come to instruct both boys and girls on menstrual health when exams finish.

~Explaining to guests about our green school project~

 

Andrew Smith said, ‘We have been involved in developing an air quality awareness campaign for one of our clients over the last 12 months. The programme is aimed at education focused specifically on how burning practices in the homes and communities can negatively impact the air we breath. Burning of waste and the use of coal fires in the home for cooking and warmth during winter are some of the issues the campaign focuses on. We have rolled the campaign out in some primary schools as well and we’ve developed puzzles, colouring books, quizzes and drama competitions. We have asked our client whether they will allow us to use the material elsewhere and we’re waiting for their comments. This educational content might be something Nurse Grace, or other teachers, could use during some of the Life Orientation classes.’

~Showing EIMS part of the garden and how we make compost manure from waste~

Andrew Smith's donation 4

If you would like to make a donation towards the creation of a school vegetable garden in the Waterberg or towards multi-use sanitary pads for pupils please click here detailing your wishes. Sets of sanitary packs cost R220  and last for approx 48 months. We are hoping to raise enough money for all the school girls in the Waterberg to be kitted out.

 

News from Lapalala Wilderness School in the Waterberg

Mashudu Makhokha, Director of Lapalala Wilderness School has sent The Waterberg Trust a report on World Rhino Day celebrations.

 

‘I personally cannot describe the absolute joy of the 42 children attending from 21 rural schools and their individual ‘speech’ giving performances on the subject of rhino conservation.’

In addition to the children, the following organizations in this collaborate event clearly illustrate the power of co-operation in our task of EE:
The Endangered Wildlife Trust, My school my village my planet, Bushpigs (WESSA), Save the Waterberg Rhino, the LWS. In attendance was the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, Welgevonden and Lapalala Wilderness Reserve were also present.

A day such as this reminds one of the wealth of talent that resides in our youth who need no more than an opportunity to express themselves. This collaborative effort on the part of all these fine organizations coming together gives one hope for the future of conservation.

The first Prize taken by Thabang Nkoe (Meetsetshehla Secondary School), Second Prize was a taken by Majoki Masenya (Meetsetshehla Secondary School) and Hope Digashu (Kgaba Secondary School), Third Prize taken by
Mpho Ramasobana (Bathokwa Secondary school) and Thapelo Molefe (Bakenberg Secondary School).

In a world where so much seems negative these days we need now and then with events like this, especially with our youth.

This was made possible by donors’ contributions to our programme, which assists us to be effective in helping our children discover the value of biodiversity in our natural world and our place within it and to identify and nurture Africa’s future conservation champions. Through event like this, we are starting to see those future leaders emerging.