Tag Archives: Southern Africa

3rd Covid-19 Emergency Food Parcel Distribution in the Waterberg – July 2020

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– VOLUNTEERS AND BENEFICIARIES HELPING TO PACK FOOD PARCELS IN VAALWATER-

Thanks to our generous supporters, emergency food parcel distribution in the Waterberg has continued every month. Nurse Grace has conducted an assessment on how this is going, conducting home visits to beneficiaries. These are her photos and finding for the month of July 2020. We will be able to provide an update for activities in August soon.

Some recipients have managed to find a source of income or work and received a UIF payment to enable them to buy groceries for their family. Others still have no source of income or only work on certain days of the week when they are paid according to the hours worked. New beneficiaries have been identified including teenage mothers who depend on the child social grant.

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– SUPERVISED FOOD PARCEL DISTRIBUTION –

Kind donations were received in the form of clothes, sanitary pads and bedding, for which acknowledgements and thank you messages have been sent. These came from individuals, St John’s church members and The Fold children’s home. Those in need were grateful.

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This enabled bedding and kitchen utensils were donated to a homeless, elderly man who has no family and no known identity.

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Knitted blankets were also distributed thanks to kind donated wool for the knitting club ladies.

CHALLENGES faced in the township of Leseding:

  • People spend money on alcohol instead of buying food for their families.
  • Gender-based violence.
  • School children roaming the streets – some get involved in crime and physical violence.
  • Child-headed homes with no parents to guide nor provide.
  • Patients with poor adherence due to lack of food and family support.
  • Foreign nationals with no identity nor family.
  • An expectancy of receiving food parcels regardless of employment.

However, many needy adults and children are benefiting enormously. More food parcels will be purchased when new list of beneficiaries is ready. If you wold like to make a donation to help provide for the poor, please click here.

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Nurse Grace has been making preparations as schools open in the Waterberg

Nurse Grace profile picture in TWT uniform 2020~School nurse, Sister Grace Ismail~

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.”

Sister Grace helping learners with studies through Lockdown

-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 buying groceries for food parcels

-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.

Nurse Grace at Meetsetshehla School in TWT uniform

The Environment Club

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.

TWT pupils going to Welgrovenden

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.

The Environment Club talking to people about recycling

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.

To read more about the gift of a school vegetable garden please click here.

Sales of produce are being saved to buy more seedlings. Some of the vegetables have been used by students studying hotel and catering management at Meetsetshehla School.

If you would like to help with the Environment Club please contact TWT

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TWT sponsors another residential course at Lapalala Wilderness School

This year, The Waterberg Trust enabled 59 students and two teachers from Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater to attend a week’s residential course at Lapalala Wilderness School in the Limpopo Province of South Africa about 3 hours due north of Pretoria.

The group travelled north into the Africa bush on a bus also funded by TWT so that no one was excluded by the cost of transport.

Since other pupils from Meetsetshehla had been on the environmental course on previous years, everyone was expectant, eager to grasp the opportunity to learn about ecology and nature conservation.

After a course on snakes and the value of all creatures in balanced eco-systems there was a module on plastic pollution and re-cycling.  Everyone learned how they can make a difference and improve the environment, allowing wildlife to thrive.

Students donned life-jackets to examine aquatic organisms and try swimming in the Palala River, which runs in front of the eco-school.

This was a new experience for most and proved an opportunity to learn about physics.

Teamwork proved essential when constructing a raft and negotiating the river.

Leadership training has always been recognised as an important life-skill at Lapalala Wilderness. It will be interesting to see if any of these young people take up a career in wildlife conservation or management of natural resources.

Learners were set a number of different challenges during the course of the week.

There were a range of outdoor activities that tested pupils in a variety of ways.

The obstacle course in the African bush was enjoyed by one and all

including the teachers accompanying the teenagers who found themselves wearing many hats.

It proved an unforgettable, life-changing experience. To read more about previous visits to Laplala Wilderness School, funded by TWT and watch a short film, please click here.

If you would like to sponsor children of the Waterberg to go on a 5 day residential course at Lapalala Wilderness, please contact us using the comments blow or find details here.

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.

After pausing to take photos we 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 lovely old 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.

Everyone was pretty tired but 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 by 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.

Highlights of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

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

White rhino on Ant's Nest

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.

Nurse Grace at work in the schools of Vaalwater: Part 2

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~

 FUTURE PLANS:

  • ‘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

Viewing Bushmen painting and visiting Lethabo Kid’s Club on day 7 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

TWT Ride 2018 weaver nests

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.

TWT Ride Day 7 walking off to Bushmen paintings

Being on foot gave members of the team a chance to study the insect life:

TWT Ride 2018 Day 5 locusts in aloe

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.

TWT Ride 2018 Little boy at Lethabo Kids Club

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.

Day 6 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

TWT Ride 2018 - DAY 6 walking down to the Palala River (2).jpgAfter 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.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 6 - Riders crossing the Palala River going north.jpg

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.

TWT Ride DAY 6 2018 crossing the Palala River - photo Sophie Neville

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~

60 pupils from Leseding sent to Lapalala Wilderness by The Waterberg Trust

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.

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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.

TWT Riders 2018 learing about community projects in the Waterberg

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.