Dr Peter Farrant, who works with The Waterberg Trust
Ant Baber led the fourth Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, taking a new route across the Waterberg Plateau from Ant’s Nest to Jembisa on the Palala River to the north, covering 187kms on horseback over six days and crossing seven different game reserves.
Team members from the UK and Bermuda had been busy raising sponsorship, 50% of funds going to Save The Waterberg Rhino and 50% to community projects that uplift the people and place of the Waterberg in the Limpopo Province of South Africa
While we had excellent game viewing, we also enjoyed very good food.
Meals were served in a variety of different settings, enabling the team to get to know each other and have time to chat to guides and directors of the game reserve. It was a true safari, in that we went on a journey through the African bush.
Coming across wild animals made our spirits soar.
We were able to get unusually close both on foot and on horseback.
What the animals thought can only be guessed.
But the riders wrote to say how amazing it was. ‘I think you have a winning formula as the riding is wonderful but all the extra experiences such as the school, youth club, church and visiting Clive Walker, enriched it and made it a truly unique experience and insight into the Waterberg.’
On the second day we had a real life adventure, helping the local vet.
‘It was a truly memorable adventure’
The horses were used to approaching wildlife as they graze with other animals in the bush.
It was high summer in South Africa so the afternoons could get hot and tiring
and the road was sometimes steep
but each day was full of variety
and we developed a huge sense of camaraderie.
‘…it was just pure fun and I felt so carefree’
We each had time to develop a relationship with our horse.
While the herd enjoyed the grazing we loved finding out about the projects supported by The Waterberg Trust.
It was a privilege to meet the local people.
These included exceptional women changing the lives of children.
‘Apart from the riding, we so enjoyed seeing all that The Waterberg Trust supports. There are some incredible people involved.’
We met the conservationist Clive Walker and learned of what he had achieved for the UNESCO Biosphere and good to hear his new plans for the Waterberg Living Museum.
It was a privilege to be able to watch wild animals from horseback.
The landscape was ever-changing.
After five days in the saddle we reached the Palala River without mishap and thanks to the teams at Ant’s Nest and Jembisa, we were able celebrated the finish in style.
‘It really was a very special trip and a challenge at that.’
Special thanks go to Ant Baber and his family for looking after us and enabling us to ride across the land of their forefathers and beyond.
It was ‘a really amazing experience’.
The horses needed a good rest and the riders were tired but everyone agreed that it had been an incredible week of exploration.
Nursing Sister Grace Ismail has sent us more photographs of her work in the secondary schools of Vaalwater in the Limpopo Province of South Africa:
~Examination couch with linen covers~
‘We received a donation of examination couch which is helping a lot when learners are feeling unwell and can rest before the family takes them to the clinic.
~Grade 8 pupil with chronic illness under diet supervision~
‘We received disposable sanitary pads and bras, which were distributed to leaners of Meetsetshehla and Leseding Secondary Schools. This helped our girl learners a lot and gave them opportunity of attending classes without any worry of menstrual challenges.’
~Girls who received donated sanitary pads~
‘Health education was conducted to all grade 8 learners about hygiene and communicable diseases. These are learners from both Meetsetshehla and Leseding Secondary Schools.’ It was a form of welcome, educating them on the importance of hygiene and prevention of infections in schools. ‘The team from the local government clinic who are involved in youth and gender based programs (Love Life) were also present during the sessions as motivational speakers.’
~Learners participating during class health talk~
- ‘To reinforce early childhood development from primary school level and ensure the children are well-informed with various issues that will help them to cope in Secondary School.’
- ‘Meetings with stakeholders will continue as they also contribute to support our learners i.e. The Social Development, Local Government Clinic, Social workers, Police and the Community at large.’
- ‘To continue supporting girl learners with menstrual issues whenever we receive any donation of sanitary pads in order to keep them in school when menstruating.’
- ‘To ensure that all the learners with HIV are taking their treatment and adhering to the appointment as scheduled from the clinic.’
~Transformed learner witnessing to students~
- ‘To have our own library at the school where learners can utilize for study and do their homework. The library in our township is very small that learners are unable to fit in to search for relevant study information on internet and books because of congestion.’
~Women who prepare meals for more than 500 learners daily~
- ‘Learners have a project called UBUNTU whereby they collect unused clothes from teachers and then donate to the needy in the community, presenting clothes to needy children’
~Donation of clothes to the needy children in the community~
Two pupils represented the school in Provincial competition held in Polokwane City. One boy came 1st in the high jump.~Two who excelled in athletics~
Sister Grace says, ‘I still have more work to do with primary schools next term.’
If you would like to make a donation to support Sister Grace in her work, please click here
The Waterberg Trust instigated the role of School Nurse to minister to the young people and children of Vaalwater in the Waterberg, South Africa.
-A pupil with Sister Grace, using an examination couch donated by Dr Albert Poitier-
Nursing Sister Grace Ismail is the first school nurse assigned to state schools in the Limpopo Province. She is based at Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater where she is in the ideal position to help the emerging generation face the HIV/Aids pandemic and cope with problems such as drug and alcohol abuse in the township of Leseding.
-Tree-planting with students-
‘500 learners were reached in class this term and offered different healthy topics ranging from hygiene, infection control in schools and HIV/TB prevention.’
-Sister Grace with the Community Workers programme-
-Sister Grace working with the Life Orientation Teacher at Leseding Secondary School-
Sister Grace has also been working with Life Orientation teachers and Community Workers at the schools, getting pupils keen on growing vegetables and planting trees. This encourages everyone to look to the future and care for their environment.
-Growing fresh vegetables-
‘Some learners have psychological trauma and can’t concentrate in class due to dysfunctional families and lack of support.‘ Others have nutritional needs.
Nurse Grace initiated a re-cycling project to generate funds to provide learners with sanitary products so they do not miss school. She gives counselling and careers guidance as well as providing First Aid.
While Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust oversees the nursing work, The Waterberg Trust provide this NGO with a grant to pay for Sister Graces salary.
If you could make a donation or monthly contribution to support the school nurse’s life-changing work, please click here for details on TWT’s Donate Page.
-Sister Grace at work in schools in the Waterberg, Limpopo Province, South Africa-
We woke to the sound of birdsong and were soon up and off, walking to a site of historic interest that cannot be reached on horseback.
Being on foot gave members of the team a chance to study the insect life:
Some opted to reach the spot in the Landcruiser
which proved good for warthog-viewing.
The aim of the morning was to climb down the escarpment a little way
to find ancient bushmen paintings, preserved from weathering by overhanging rocks.
We learned about the original inhabitants of the Waterberg who called themselves the people of the eland, hunting with bows tipped with flint arrowheads.
After a quick brunch we drove into Vaalwater to visit Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding.
A portion of the money raised by the riders went to help this outreach that supports little children in the community.
Lethabo Kids Club run a ‘Back to School’ project whereby families battling to kit out their children for school can apply for one item of uniform.
Most of them chose school shoes. These are fitted properly at a local shop who are able to give a discount as up to 160 children were brought along this year.
Riders were thanked and entertained with songs and dancing as more children arrived.
Some of the performances were excellent.
The riders also met Sister Grace who has begun working as a school nurse in Vaalwater.
The Waterberg Trust provide her salary and she has an office at Meetsetshesetla Secondary School. She gave a talk explaining all her job involves, including HIV/Aids prevention and awareness.
We then visited Kamatsogo, a community based sewing project, that has a workshop and craft shop in Vaalwater selling fine embroidery and beaded crafts.
It was great to learn about this not-for-profit enterprise involving local women.
While some riders returned to Johannesburg airport to catch their flight home, others were able to stay on for a last game drive and evening of celebration under the stars.
The Waterberg Trust would like to extend a big thank you to all the riders and their supporters for raising funds and awareness to uplift the people and place of the Waterberg.
After walking the horses down a steep track on Jembisa game reserve, we finally made it to the Palala River. It’s normally too deep to cross on a horse but the drought of 2017 resulted in unusually low water.
The rocks looked slippery but Ant Baber decided we could walk across.
As we made our way the Rooisloot valley we came across interesting plants such as this Transvaal gardenia.
Greater kudu enjoy eating the green seed pods and had effectively pruned the bushes.
The aim was to ride up to the wetlands at the very north of the reserve.
We had entered at the gate just south of Emily’s Camp. Today we reached Kwarriehoek near the road to Makopane, which you can see at the top right-hand corner of this map.
It was good to have reached the open grasslands after having spent six days in the saddle.
Mission accomplished. We could ride no further north.
A highlight of the day was lunch at a house on the game reserve which has a pool with an incredible view, looking north down the Palala River Valley towards Lapalala Wilderness where we had been the evening before.
We mounted the horses and crossed back over the Palala, which flows north into the Limpopo on the South African border with Zimbabwe.
Without pausing to remove our helmets, we dismounted and climbed up the steep cart track in our hot clothes. The horses were fine but it was hard on the riders.
Once we reached the plateau, it wasn’t long before we were met by the back-up team.
They had brought us champagne to celebrate the end of the challenge ride.
Everyone was tired, but happy, if a little dazed.
No one had fallen off. There had been no injuries or mis-haps. The horses were still in good condition. We had explored a new route, which had proved varied and exciting. Ant Baber decided the ride had been a success.
We’d made it!
We had come so far and seen so much. The experience had challenged and extended each one of us..
We climbed back into the saddle and had a cheer from the team from Newbury, before making our way back to the lodge.
The riders enjoyed one last exciting gallop before bidding farewell to the horses, who had all done so well. We’d covered 187 kilometres in total – 197kms if you counted the ride before the official trek began six days before.
Very many thanks to all our sponsors and donors who encouraged us on our way. The funds raised will go a long way to help Save The Waterberg Rhino increase security in the area and will support community projects run by trusted charitable organisations that uplift the emerging generation by providing education or healthcare.
If you would like to make a donation to The Waterberg Trust please click here
~TWT Trustees: Belinda Chaffer and Sophie Williams-Thomas~
In February 2018, The Waterberg Trust enabled 60 local teenagers from Leseding Secondary School in Vaalwater to attend a week’s residential course on environmental awareness at Lapalala Wilderness School in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.
The students were given a grounding in nature conservation and experienced the beauty and importance of South African wildlife.
This python was very much alive as was the chameleon that the young people also handled.
The idea was to take away fear of culturally reviled animals and teach students how to handle reptiles and creepy crawlies they might encounter. When they return to the township of Leseding, the teenagers are given a mentor who they can text if they find a snake in the house or hear of worrying wildlife issues.
Everyone enjoyed the obstacle course in the African bush and learnt how to use maps in a wilderness situation.
One day they donned PFD life-jackets to experience what it would be like to swim in the Palala River. It was a great way to cool off after a hot day in the African bush.
One exercise was to build a raft and get out on the water, which was an eye-opener for many. Mr Mashudu Makhokha, Director of Lapalala Wilderness School said, ‘Raft building is one of the activities that enhance teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills.’
The pupils also studied wildlife in the river system and learnt more about water. ‘They learnt to identify various kinds of aquatic animals – and the basics of how to use SASS (South African Scoring System) – which uses the presence/absence of a variety of freshwater macroinvertebrates to gauge the health of riverine ecosystem.’
Co-operation, team-building and leadership training were important parts of the course. ‘Students discovered that good teamwork is essential.’
However, recycling, eco-systems, the environment and the significance of South African wildlife was at the core of this inspirational week that ties in with the school curriculum and gives the teenagers a grounding for life.
You can see the students here on an interpretive hike that gave them an opportunity to learn basic ecology and gain a changed attitude towards biodiversity.
Could you help raise funds to enable more local children to go on this residential course? It only costs R380 per person a day (about £24) so is exceptionally good value. All food and dormitory accommodation is included. The Waterberg Trust like to provide the cost of transport from the township of Leseding, to ensure that no one is excluded for economic reasons.
Thanks go to those who took part in The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017, who raised enough money for these 60 pupils and two of their teachers to enjoy this life-changing opportunity. Hopefully some of these young people will consider a career in nature conservation, tourism or teaching in the Waterberg.
Trustees of The Waterberg Trust took TWT Riders to Lapalala Wilderness School in January, when they enjoyed meeting the staff and learning about new projects.
You can read more about Lapalala Wilderness School here and watch this video made for their 30th Anniversary. It’s fun:
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Lapalala Wilderness School is immensely grateful for the assistance that The Waterberg Trust has given. This support has enabled 60 children and two adults to attend an environmental education course in 2018. We hope that with ongoing support from TWT, we can continue to bring young people to LWS and awaken in them a love for the environment and a commitment to conserving it.