Working together to care for our communities and save the environment

By Vulani Mabiunda
The Sefapane Fund’s EcoKidz Programme together with the TUI Care Foundation support 1 550 primary school learners from grades five, six and seven in villages around the Kruger National Park in South Africa. 
These learners receive education on nature and conservation with the inputs of K2C EMs.
In addition to school-based learning on nature and conservation, 400 children are selected to visit the Kruger National Park each year for a two-day adventure camp that the Sefopane Fund offer as part of the educational programme and 1000 learners going on day field trips. Despite living within a few miles of the park, these children`s families can rarely afford to visit the park. Many of them are now given the opportunity to see giraffes, rhinos, wildebeest and other animals. The learners learn about Africa’s flora and fauna and the importance of preserving and respecting the natural environment around their community. The project has gathered great support from the local community with children really eager to participate. Schools have also been quick to adopt the highly interactive programme as an integral part of the curriculum. 
On the 19thof August 2018, the TUI Care Foundation visited the greater magnificent Kruger to Canyons Biosphere landscape. The TUI Care Foundation invited six journalists from different countries in the world, which include the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Bangkok and Thailand. They wanted to capture the moment and have an overview of the day-to-day activities with the learners from eleven schools that are supported by the TUI Care Foundation and Sefapane Fund.

Highlights of the TUI visit

On the first night all the staff dined with the funders and did an introduction to the program. On the second day the funders and journalists joined the EM group to go to the schools. The journalists were sub-divided into three groups to each go to three different schools, Nwasorini, Lulekani and Pondo Primary Schools, to do different hands on activities with the learners.

The Sefapane Environmental monitors gave lessons during the funders visits in different schools on the following topics, environmental Impact of Natural resources to the grade 7, Grade 6 water scarcity and how it affects our daily lifestyles and grade 5 water purification and the purifying methods. These lessons also included stories, games and activities such as drawing favourite animals, designing a water purification system to use at home, and discussions on how to save water at school in these times of drought. Homework and test are also given to quantify what knowledge learners have gained.
The EMs together with the funders and Journalist did a couple of activities with the learners One of the great projects the Environmental Monitors are implementing at the schools, which is making Charcoal Balls. Learners tear up all the school’s waste paper in small pieces, put these in a bucket and have them soak in water for a few days. The paper strips turn to pulp, of which the learners make balls (pushing out the excess water). These balls are left to dry in the sun for several days depending on the heat, and then they are ready!

These charcoal balls are perfect to start fires with, and some schools solely use these balls to cook the school meals on. For learners, it’s a fun and easy way to re-use waste paper, and a nice example of how to sustainably use our natural resources.
Together with the funders the learners did more activities such as stalk the lantern, Eco-challenge, solitaire, using the theme “Resource Use” making something out of nothing, making tippy taps and planting Moringa trees.
The funders were very engaged with the learners and their education in schools and they also got a chance to taste the African food.
In the afternoon the funders had a meeting with Marie-Tinka Uys Coordinator of Kruger2Canyons Biosphere(NPO) and as part of the EM Programme) and meeting with Joris Bernetes owner of Sefapane lodge and safaris and Unambezi Boutique Lodge, founder of Sefapane Fund.
Joris Bertans and Marie-Tinka Uys
The funders together with the learners went on a two-day excursion to Kruger National Park for our Ecokidz camp. We went on a morning walks, game drives, and did a lesson on dung, big five, snakes and scorpions. These included biodiversity, the importance of elephant in the ecosystem, elephant poaching, the Big Five and their importance in the ecosystem, elephant morphology, rhino poaching, endangered species, and a documentary on air pollution. 

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