Food parcels are being distributed in the Waterberg to support 113 needy people. Dr Peter Farrant says, “It is a busy time as temperatures are dropping significantly and winter is imposing herself!”
Sister Grace writes to say: I continued my routine home visits to identify new beneficiaries, checking up on previous ones and teaching basic health education to families and their children. This includes preventive measures to curtail the spread of the common cold, regular hand washing and the importance of wearing masks when in public places. I noticed that many people are ignorant about the need to wear masks when interacting with others.
-Sister Grace in the Waterberg-
Some beneficiaries have found employment while others have relocated to their families. Those with valid documentation were referred to the Social Development for continuity of food parcel support.
I managed to locate the Mozambican family who are related to the mentally disabled person who stands by the roadside near Build- It hardware shop. I referred this matter to the Social Worker and the Police Victim Support unit but it is taking too long to get him transferred to hospital for proper psychological assessment and treatment. A concerted effort is being made to take the man to the local district hospital using the SAPS. The plan is to manage his mental illness and provide shelter.
CHALLENGES: I came across 2 teenage mothers who had family disputes with their parents. They were left without food for days. I managed to conduct family meetings and distributed food parcels to the children. They are continuing to attend school. One girl is in grade 10 at Meetsethehla School, aged 17 years, the other in grade 12 at Lesideng High School, aged 18 years.
–We equip some learners without parents with school uniform–
Some Youths are under the influence of alcohol and substance abuse even at school which leads them to scholastic and learning failure and in the community to theft and gender-based violence.
I found it difficult to locate those needy families living in informal settlements as the addresses are not properly indicated, however those with phone contacts were able to be assisted.
Many foreign residents on chronic medication had poor adherence due to lack of understanding and the language barrier as they could not speak the local language nor English. I involved local caregivers who could translate and explain clearly.
– FAMILY MEMBERS COLLECT FOOD PARCELS ON BEHALF OF THEIR SICK RELATIVES –
PROGRESS: School children have access to meals on daily basis and are attending school.
Social Workers and religious groups help distribute food parcels to the elderly and vulnerable.
Community members have been offered temporary employment within the community and private sector which enables them to supply their families.
To continue reaching out to the vulnerable and provide needed support i.e. food parcels, nutritional supplements, clothing warm blankets and psychosocial counselling.
The need for shelter for the homeless was discussed at an Elders meeting. The plan is to improve our existing shelter and to manage it more effectively. It is important to ensure that it is used for limited periods per person, so that it is not occupied permanently, as is the case at present.
Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust reports that Sister Grace is continuing to do good work at Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater where she is based. She spends one day a week at Lesideng High School and visits Mokolo and Mahlasedi primary schools once a week.
Dr Farrant says, “Recently the need for school nurse counsellors has been recognised by the Government. Whether they introduce such appointments is to be seen. Thank you for your financial support for this position! There is no doubting Grace’s beneficial presence at all the schools.”
SCHOOL REPORT FROM FEBRUARY – APRIL 2021
Schools re-opened and learners have been attending in a phased manner without interruptions or serious issues. Sister Grace says, “All Corvid–19 protocols concerning prevention, with regular hand washing and social distancing are adhered to. Staff and learners sign a daily register after being screened and temperature recorded.” This is to detect abnormalities before anyone enters the school premises. About 400 learners are screened on daily basis.
“Classrooms and offices are sanitized regularly. Learners are well-informed about all the precautions and educated on general hygiene measures and risks of cross infection. When they present flu-like symptoms, they are thoroughly checked and screened to rule out common colds. If severe symptoms arise they are referred to the clinic for further management and treatment.”
The Matric results for two Secondary Schools:
Some passed to study at various universities and colleges, while others got only a normal pass. They were given chance to register and rewrite any subjects failed.
Meetsetshehla High School – (Total number of leaners 94. 63% passed)
Leseding High School – (Total number of learners 17. 94.1 % passed)
Increased number of teenage pregnancies with an unwillingness to report until discovered in their last trimester
Learners dropping out of school for no reason with some involved in domestic theft
Alcohol and drug abuse among the leaners with some caught with dagga and cigarettes on school premises
Fatigue due to pressure of school work as learners have to attend school for long hours in order to catch up on lost time. They have many assignments and homework to be completed
Learners who walk a distance to and from school are unable to do all assignments as they arrive home late, tired upon arrival
Over-aged learners who keep repeating in the same class are a bad influencer on newcomers, however disciplinary hearings were conducted
Absconding from school during break time without permission from the teacher.
The Department of Education appointed and employed educational teacher assistants and general workers to work for a short term period (3 months) in surrounding schools. This has helped a lot as the workers assist with cleaning school premises, packing and distributing books to learners, filing and photocopying.
E-learning programme based at Meetsetshehla High School run by Leseding Education Network, through the Northern Education Trust, will help those needing extra classes do their assignments, download study guides and be able to learn live experiments according to their curriculum. (Learners from surrounding schools are using this opportunity. They attend the classes at Meetsetshehla.)
Matriculants are attending school on a daily basis to ensure they are well prepared and able to catch up on studies
Teachers are willing to help learners who need special assistance in certain subjects
The feeding scheme continues to provide meals for learners on daily basis as a nutritional supplement, including fruit and vegetables to maintain a balanced diet.
ONE LEARNER IS ATTENDING ONGOING COUNSELING ON SUBSTANCE AND DRUG ABUSE AND ALSO HAS A COURT CASE, ACCUSED OF RAPE. HE’S IN GRADE 10 AM AND 19 YEARS OLD.
UNDISCIPLINED LEARNERS ATTEND DISCIPLINARY MEETINGS FROM THEIR TEACHER AND PARENTS ARE NOTIFIED.
THE GOOD NEWS:
We have started environmental activities with learners from grade 8 – 11, who have formed a club that will be involved in recycling and gardening. This will help them demonstrate life orientation tasks and projects. Members are grouped in sixes to limit overcrowding. Each group has been assigned to a specific task and will work closely with the teacher assistants on particular days. The garden has just been set up and will benefit learners with nutritional supplementation through the feeding scheme and Hospitality Studies.
THESE LEARNERS ARE MOZAMBICAN NATIONALS ARE ASSISTED WITH FOOD PARCELS. BOYS ALSO RECEIVED SCHOOL UNIFORM AND WINTER WEAR.
144 girls need washable sanitary pads. A message was sent to our kind sponsor Andrew Smith who is willing to transport a box from Pretoria.
If you would like to find out how to make a donation via The Waterberg Trust in the UK to enable Sister Grace to buy school uniform or washable sanitary packs, please click here.
Grade 8 learners were welcomed, orientation was given, with basic hygiene measures and menstrual issues explained to girls.
All grade 9 learners were educated on HIV/AIDS, TB, STIs, lifestyle diseases and ways of prevention and treatment. This is linked to Life Orientation studies.
Learners are helped with career guidance. This helps them to work hard in certain subjects to reach their dream careers.
I attended various meetings with stake-holders such as the Department of Social Development, the South African Police and community leaders. Issues of gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy, substance and alcohol abuse were discussed. The police are ready to work with the community and help to clamp down on those involved in dealing in illegal drugs, which leads to gender-based violence and domestic theft.
Social workers are involved in identifying social problems in the communities and help those who needed social support through counseling and providing basic needs like food and temporary shelter.
199 LEARNERS WERE CONSULTED INDIVIDUALLY. THE REST WERE ADDRESSED IN CLASSES
PREGNANT – 18 (10 Meetsetshehla & 8 from Leseding High Schools)
ASTHMATIC – 6 (1 Learner was admitted to hospital with a severe asthmatic attack but she’s much better)
COUNSELING – 30 (HIV, & STI, substance abuse, promiscuity, bereavement and family planning)
DISCIPLINARY ISSUES – 15 (Late-comers, improper uniform, unable to complete school work, and trouble-makers)
MINOR AILMENTS – 35 (Menstrual issues, headaches, dizziness, scabies, earache and tooth ache)
LEARNING PROBLEMS – 40 (20 from Meetsetshehla and 15 from Leseding High Schools)
CONTRACEPTIVE REFERRALS – 55 (teenage learners who are sexually active were referred to the local government clinic)
To encourage more learners to use the E-Learning programme, which will benefit and empower them through extra tutoring and learning
I will continue with health education and screening to all learners and encourage them on the importance of prevention of various illnesses.
I will continue to help leaners with life orientation topics related to health and nutrition.
Schools will be closed for a week from 23rd April and reopen on 3rd May 2021 . Those in grade 12 will continue to have extra lessons.
Thirty families in need of support in the Waterberg are being visited to ensure they have enough food and essential supplies. Education on basic hygiene measures is also offered. We are helping two child-headed families, some who are chronically ill, a man badly bitten by a dog, women with small children left with no means of support, an old woman with no ID card and many other needy cases.
120 individuals benefited in November and 94 in December 2020
TWT aims to support those who do not receive any social grant money, who are unemployed with no source of income or support, and are in urgent need of help. Those already on the Social Development system have been handed over to a social worker who has provided 18 families with food parcels donated by Shambala Game Reserve.
Nurse Grace works with Choppies supermarket and volunteers from St John’s Church who help to pack food parcels and deliver them to the elderly and those who can’t reach the supermarket due health issues.
We have been able to help those in crisis: thieves broke into one man’s house, stealing all his groceries whilst he was at a funeral. Another man had a fire at his house and needed clothes for his six children.
If you would like to make a donation to The Waterberg Trust Covid-19 Appeal to assist the needy, please click here.
Progress! School children attending school benefit from the feeding scheme program Those receiving grants are able to buy essential supplies for the family.
Some people are back at work while others now sell produce at the local market Job opportunities for local community members in various sectors are emerging.
SCHOOL UNIFORM was bought for a boy from a dysfunctional family who now has counseling.
Current Challenges: Increase in food prices. Some families arrive late or find it difficult to collect the food. Four children below the age of 10 are being neglected by their mother due alcohol. The issue has been handed over to social development for intervention. 5 families were abusing social grants. The cases were reported to the social worker. Some people are becoming dependent on food parcels and do not want to work.
House break-ins and stealing within the community is worrisome with young boys involved in stealing from their parents. Huge families are unable to feed their dependents. Re-opening of taverns contributes to insecurity and unnecessary expenditure. This results in many drunken people leaving no food for their family.
Poor living conditions in informal settlements with poor sanitation and no water. Youth hang around quiet streets where they smoke, drink alcohol and abuse substances. Cases of gender-based violence resulting in physical injury and assault needed to be reported to the Police station. One men was severely injured and needed to be taken to hospital. Teenage pregnancies remain a challenge.
Routine screening of all learners continues to take place before they enter school premises, when temperatures are checked and a register is signed. We ensure pupils are wearing proper uniform and are not carrying any items that can cause danger to other learners. This gives the school nurse an opportunity to identify learners who hide their pregnancy.
All staff members and any guests are also screened to ensure preventative measures are adhered to. Motivational speakers came from different political parties, the Department of Education, private companies and religious leaders who came to motivate learners during this hard time and to encourage them to study so they can achieve their dreams.
This was the last academic term for all schools in South Africa, with final examinations for grade 12’s. All other grades continued to attend in a phased manner, on weekly rotation, writing tests to enable them progress to the next grade.
Earlier in the year, Grade 12 learners in the Waterberg district attended a 10-day preparatory camp, run by the Department of Education, to prepare them for final examinations.
Schooling continued without interruptions or problems.
Grade 12’s wrote their examinations successfully.
Social media communication with parents from certain schools helps circulate info, using a WhatsApp group and a Facebook page.
Media learning (through TV and radio) helps learners to study whilst at home.
Extra classes were provided for learners to ensure they catch up from where they lacked with teachers willing to help.
Regular visits and monitoring of teachers by the Department of Education has ensured they are maintaining teaching standards.
The assistant agent Josias also helped the grade 12 on how to apply for University bursaries with the required information needed. This gave learners more courage and strength for the upcoming final examination.
CHALLENGES encountered from September to December 2020
Stress and anxiety cases are seen in learners due to pressure of studying for long hours together with a lot of schoolwork and assignments to be completed.
I encountered two cases of teenage girls attempting suicide, one due to family issues and the other in denial to her positive HIV test from the clinic. Counselling sessions were conducted and will continue during the one-week holiday through home visits.
Learners who are abusing drugs are finding it hard to cope with study as they are tired, feel weak and lack concentration.
Some over-age learners are stuck in the junior phase. e.g. A 21-year-old still in grade 8 continues to come to school without progressing. The grandmother who is her carer refuses to allow her to go to a special school. There are several in this category. I plan to address this matter with the School Governing Body (SGB) and School Management Team (SMT) .
Gender-based violence has increased among learners due to petty issues. Those found guilty go to a disciplinary hearing.
Some pregnant learners are hiding pregnancies until a late stage and the policy regarding return to school after delivery is not being followed. I plan to raise this matter with the SGB and SMT.
There is no internet access from the nursing office, therefore, I receive messages late and am unable to communicate with stakeholders on time when invited for meetings, other events or to send reports. The solution has been to provide monthly data.
Challenges due to Covid-19
Some learners remove their masks when in class and some forget them at home.
No physical activities for learners to keep them busy due to the Corvid restrictions e.g. Sports, gardening and athletics
Little ones from Primary Schools are not coping with wearing of masks and need close assistance.
Some learners are not coping with the phasing of school attendance programme, requiring them to stay at home during rotational schedules.
Some learners dropped out of school and are staying at home and some engaged in bad behavioural acts like drinking alcohol and substance abuse and domestic violence.
STATISTICS for September-October when 95 learners were consulted individually:
Medical issues: 25 (Asthmatic, Epilepsy, Dental Abscess, depression, and HIV, Poor Vision and ear infections)
Social Issues: 45 (family problems, lack of support, No food at home and no proper clothes, suicidal attempts, self-stigma, depression
Substance Abuse: 10 (5 from Meetsetshehla and 3 school-dropouts and 2 from Leseding High School)
Counselling: 15 (HIV & Stigma, dangers of substance abuse, teenage pregnancy & how to deal with depression)
Pregnant: 6 (3 Meetsetshehla Secondary School & 3 from Leseding High School)
STATISTICS for November-December when 100 learners were consulted individually:
Medical Issues: 25 (Herpes Zoster, HIV/STI, Dog bite, Asthma, Epilepsy, Visual Impairment)
Social Issues: 35 (Substance abuse, Family issues, no food at home, poor living conditions and lack of parental support)
Counselling: 25 (Depression, HIV Adherence and prevention, Contraception benefits and side effects, ways for substance and alcohol withdrawal Syndrome)
Pregnant: 8 (5 Meetsetshehla and 3 Leseding High Schools)
Minor Issues: 7 (Menstrual issues, Headaches and dizziness)
NOTE: During final term number of learners who consulted were less as they don’t come to school every day when writing exams, they are given time to study at home before writing.
To continue supporting learners who are faced with various challenges
We hope to cooperate with a local pastor to establish a drug rehabilitation centre in Vaalwater, which will benefit many youths who are struggling with addiction.
If you would like to sponsor school children by providing school shoes or washable sanitary pads, please click here
Since Covid-19 shut down the South African tourist industry in March, The Waterberg Trust has partnered with St John’s Church at 24 Rivers to make up food parcels for those needing help.
The project is overseen by NET’s nurse, Grace Ismail, who is sponsored by TWT. She has continued to meet with volunteers from the church, once a month, to purchase food from Chequers supermarket in Vaalwater, where it can be collected by the recipients.
By following up this distribution with home visits, Grace ensures that funds raised by The Waterberg Trust’s Covid-19 Appeal, and kind donations made locally, go to families who are struggling, including a teenage mum with twins and those unemployed due to Lockdown.
All previous beneficiaries have been visited. We found some have been able to return to work, others have received social relief grants, and some have been given retrenchment packages. New beneficiaries have been identified and assessed to confirm their status.
FOOD PARCEL DONATIONS:
Shambala Game Reserve, a local donor, requested a list of beneficiaries that needed food parcels. This list was given to social workers for re-assessment. Beneficiaries with no passport or South African identification book could not be assisted due to lack documentation. From the list of 20 beneficiaries, social workers distributed to 8 families. We assisted the rest.
The Department of Social Development does not provide food parcels for people without identification as they need to register beneficiaries in their system.
Some families abuse social grant money intended for buying food, using it for gambling and alcohol purchases instead.
Child-headed households without parents lack proper care and social support.
Dysfunctional families who neglect their children often provide little or no support.
Loss of employment and lack of income to support a family.
Gender-based violence continues in many households leading to physical injury and damage to property.
School children can be seen on the streets of the township at inappropriate times. Some abuse alcohol and drugs instead of studying at home.
Some beneficiaries returned to work, but did not notify us as they still want to receive food parcels. This is why reassessment of each family needs to be conducted regularly.
Stakeholders have been helpful in supporting the community with food, clothing and shelter for the less privileged. These include the Social Development Services, private organizations (eg Shambala Game Reserve), individuals and religious or faith-based groups within the community. This is encouraging as we can work together.
Schools have reopened and many learners have access to food provided by the school’s feeding scheme programme to ensure pupils get a meal and are able to concentrate in class.
We will continue to distribute food parcels from the supermarket as it is convenient and a central point for beneficiaries.
We will continue liaising with stakeholders to avoid duplication of food parcel distribution.
We will continue to visit homes and families as required.
Schools in South Africa re-opened today, bringing a number of challenges in the light of Covid-19.
Nurse Grace has written to say, “I have been busy preparing schools, to ensure classrooms are cleaned and sanitised, also to plan the screening area for learners.” Masks are obligatory for all – by law.
Ever since schools in South Africa closed in March due to shielding, Sister Grace has been helping pupils with their studies at home. “I am attending to issues and challenges presented by learners. I have been in contact with the social development services to seek help for problems in the community.”
-Home schooling in the Waterberg –
Thanks to over fifty kind donors in the UK, who responded to The Waterberg Trust Covid-19 emergency appeal, Grace has been co-coordinating the procurement and distribution of food parcels to the needy, working with volunteers from St John’s Church ‘Acts of Mercy’ initiative. You can read more about this here.
-Nurse Grace purchasing groceries for food parcel donation-
Grace writes: “The next purchase will second week of June.” If you would like to help with the purchase of food parcels by making a donation, however small, please click here for The Waterberg Trust’s Justgiving site or here to send a cheque.
Winter is on its way, with clear sunny days but temperatures dropping radically at night. “I have been handling clothes to the community which are donated by Horizon and Bulls Eye”. She has also been distributing knitted blankets. “My targets are school children and vulnerable elderly.”
Grace has now returned to work in the schools of the Waterberg, including Meetsetshehla Secondary School, where she is based. If you would like to read more about her work, please click here.
On daily basis, I am able to see 20 learners as well as those who are receiving ongoing counselling and check-ups.
Daily routine work at each school:
Learners with health related issues come to see me for consultation and examination. For emergencies/priorities e.g. those with fever, epileptic seizures, physical injuries, breathing difficulties, and flu-like illnesses are seen immediately. These may require referral to the clinic or private doctor. During the day I am available to see urgent cases which teachers are unable to deal with.
Life style matters such as diabetes, HIV infection, pregnancy, reproductive health issues i.e. menstrual issues, sexual transmitted diseases, mental and emotional issues including depression/psychosis are reported to me on daily basis.
I counsel and follow up on these learners on regular basis as appropriate and some of them are referred to the clinic or private doctor for further management. I also do home visits as needed and as time permits. I keep confidential records for each learner and record my daily activities.
I usually deal with a number of social issues, making referrals to relevant stakeholders. Problems include:
Drug and alcohol use and abuse including tobacco smoking, cannabis, nyaope and glue
Hunger and inadequate food at home
Poor living conditions
Individual rights abuse e.g. no place to study, drunken family members disrupting the house
Physical abuse e.g. beating and causing injury to learners
My daily schedule continues as agreed with management at the beginning of school programme. I report and sign from Meetsetshehla School every morning, then visit other schools.
Monday – Meetsetshehla High School
Tuesday & Wednesday – Leseding High School
Thursday- Mokolo and Mahlasedi Primary Schools
Friday- Meetsetshehla High School until 13.30pm, thereafter I do home visits to identified learners.
STATISTICS – Estimated from my records calculated from daily visits and follow up interventions:
Pregnant – 12 (four at Meetshtshehla, six at Leseding High School and two 15 year olds from Mahlasedi Primary) were counselled on average once a week after 30 weeks gestation approximately 108 visits
Medical Issues – 54 visits (Some learners were seen more than once)
Minor ailments –135 visits
Counselling– 63 sessions
Referrals – 25 (girls for contraceptives from the local government clinic)
Home Visits – 20
Health Education – 72 Learners from Leseding High School and 78 from Mokolo Primary School
Pregnant learners are monitored on regular basis to make sure they are attending antenatal clinic. Those under the influence of alcohol and drug abuse continue with counselling, which includes their parents and caregivers at home.
Liaison with the local government clinic is needed to follow up on those who are on chronic medication and to monitor adherence and progress by checking their files.
School programme services for Meetshetshehla Secondary School were affected by the pending appointment of a new Principal.
Primary schools are still overcrowded and teachers have difficulty ensuring every learner has been assisted and understands their topics.
Interruptions of studies due to unplanned meetings and workshops where learners are returned home without being taught.
The support for school programme has been acknowledged and welcomed by the surrounding schools and the community, which makes work easier.
Mokolo and Mahlasedi primary schools have managed to set up vegetable gardens with the aim of supplementing nutrition to the learners.
The Department of Education within the Waterberg district regularly visit the Schools to ensure teachers are doing their job as per requirement and to monitor those who are absent for no reason.
The community is involved with recycling and aware about the importance of keeping our town clean whilst they earn extra income from selling the recyclable materials. The environmental club held an awareness campaign to encourage every household to take part with green project by planting trees or to set up a vegetable garden
Learners know where to go to access contraceptives and STI screening i.e. the clinic
We had a meeting with the mayor, and different party leaders to discuss about issues of poor academic performance and standards of Meetsetshehla Secondary School. A follow up meeting by the mayor and party leaders was held on 13th January 2020.
The Social Development Services to discuss about ways of issuing food parcels to the vulnerable learners and their families.
The Victim Support unit based at the local police station and discussed ways to clamp down illegal drug dealers who supply illicit substances to youth in our community, issues of gender based violence and how we can prevent illegal weapons to enter on school premises.
Parents meeting held at the community hall to ensure they get involved in assisting their children to take education seriously and to avoid roaming on streets at awkward hours for safety reasons.
To extend school visits to Mothlakamotala High School at least twice per month as it is located 20km away from the feeder schools along the main road by request from parents. Learners who attend at this school come from our surrounding community and would access the services provided by the school nurse.
To ensure more teenage girls access contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies i.e. those who are sexually active.
To educate primary school adolescents about sexual heath and reproductive issues before they reach high school
Monitoring and making follow ups on all babies delivered, those who are under alcohol & drug abuse to continue home visits involving parents.
Every home must understand the importance of nutrition and how to prevent malnutrition in babies that are left at home by learners i.e. to have proper information about balanced diet meals.
Community awareness education about gender based violence, HIV/TB, Alcohol & drug abuse, reproductive and sexuality health and where to go for help and support. Awareness can be raised during parents meetings and by inviting different stake holders like Social Workers, Party representatives, religious leaders and youth representatives to speak to the school community.
The Green School Program continues. I have been able to set up and maintain a primary school environmental club at Mokolo Primary School. The aim is to expose learners to gardening, wildlife and the importance of conservation. They also received a donation of shade netting, poles, garden tools, compost and seedlings from Environmental Impact Management Services (EIMS). To read more about this, please click here.
Acknowledgement letters were sent to those who continuously donate assorted items to schools i.e. Clothes, garden tools, educational trips, trees and vegetable seedlings: EIMS, THE FOLD CHILDREN’S HOME, HORIZON HORSE BACK, WATERBERG BIOSPHERE RESERVE and SAVE THE WATERBERG RHINO
Mokolo primary school has 2,000 learners. Many are orphans and come to school hungry. The garden supplies additional nutrition to the feeding scheme. Mr. Thipe is the teacher in charge for the vegetable garden and links it to his life skills subject. The newly formed environmental club members help to water and maintain the garden.
~Mr Thipe with nurse Grace Ismail at Mokolo Primary School’s vegetable garden~
The Environment Club, run by nurse Grace of TWT, have been busy establishing a vegetable garden at Mokolo Primary School in Leseding Township in the heart of the Waterberg . A great deal of effort has been put into cultivation but the project lacked resources.
~Tomato seedlings at Mokolo Primary School vegetable garden in need of shade netting~
The Waterberg has been experiencing a heatwave this Spring and without shade netting it is difficult to get plants established.
~Mr Thipe of Mokolo Primary School with Andrew Smith and his team from EIMS ~
Nurse Grace Ismail and life skills teacher Ivy Rachele have formed an Environment Club made up of 45 pupils who have been involved in establishing a school vegetable garden. Since tilling the soil, thirty children from Meetsetshehla Secondary School and fifteen who attend Leseding High School have been going on amazing visits to local game reserves to observe wild animals in their natural habitat.
~School Nurse Grace Ismail with members of the Environment Club leaving Vaalwater for a day-visit to Marakele National Park~
South African National Parks have started a ‘Kids in Parks’ initiative aimed at primary schools. Nurse Grace says, they “teach children about wildlife, nature conservation and cultural heritage so that when they reach high school they will be able to understand the importance of protecting animals and preserving the environment.” Special activities make young people aware of water conservation, so critical in South Africa.
16th June 2019 was Youth Day. Some members of the Environment Club were invited to talk on Waterberg Waves community radio to educate listeners about environmental issues. Elvis Chitanda, aged 11, who attends Vaalwater Primary School, had the opportunity to speak on air, saying, “I really hope people don’t poach animals.”
Samuel Motswi from the People and Conservation Department of Marekele National Park in the Waterberg, delivered a number of indigenous trees that could be planted by children in school grounds.
Pupils learnt how to plant saplings, which included marula, red bushwillow, weeping boerbean and knob thorn.
~Planting indigenous trees in the grounds of Mokolo and Mahlasedi Primary Schools, Meesetshehla and Leseding secondary Schools and two creches in Vaalwater ~
The Environment Club has also partnered with Morji Kitsi, who visits schools and takes groups to Welgevonden Game Reserve and the Living Museum, which is also supported by The Waterberg Trust.
They learn about eco-systems while driving through the bush, viewing game.
The Waterberg Biosphere recently sponsored members of the club to attend a one day course at Lapalala Wilderness School when they were able to handle a python.
~Members of the Environment Club on a day visit to Lapalala Wilderness School~
Club members and other students are engaged in collecting litter and talking to people about waste, encouraging them to recycle.
It is a great project for the youth and has been successful in Vaalwater where there is an agent in town who receives the materials and sends them on in bulk.
It works particularly well as people need the money earned from recycling tins, paper and glass, which would otherwise languish in the bush.
Members communicate via a Whatsapp group, giving dates for meetings or environmental activities.
Nurse Grace also gives students the opportunity to meet those engaged in traditional crafts such as making brooms out of grass cut from roadside verges.
Meanwhile the school vegetable garden sponsored by EIMS is producing a fine harvest of nutritious greens, including spinach, French beans and beetroot.