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Posts Tagged ‘volunteer in south africa’

Greg Hillyard is a Cape Town based professional photographer and local Education without Borders volunteer. Greg and EwB have developed a photography program designed to give at risk students a chance to find creative outlets through photography and visual media, while also connecting with the natural environment.

Recently Education without Borders and Greg organized a photography excursion into the surrounding Cape Town wilderness in association with a local NGO Educo. Below is a wonderful post from Greg about the event.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ewbcanada/sets/72157627721180918/

Amongst the clouds at Grootwinterhoek

By Greg Hillyard

We are truly blessed in the Western Cape with such a choice of awe inspiring destinations! In 2010 we were exploring the northern frontier on the banks of the Doring River whilst this year the lofty Grootwinterhoek reserve served as our photographic playground.

The reserve lies merely 120km from Cape Town and to the amazement of the students, Table Mountain can be seen far off in the distance. For more information on the reserve, go to the following links…

http://www.capenature.co.za/reserves.htm?reserve=Groot+Winterhoek+Wilderness+Area

and to locate the campsite…

http://g.co/maps/gtbpt

As with the previous year’s excursion, the reasons for choosing such a remote place were to show the students a completely new part of South Africa, so as to stimulate excitement, giving them the freedom to practice their photography in a beautiful and vast landscape, and of course give them a fond memory of their time in our care.

We set out from the Fezeka High at 2pm with a few delays but as the drive was not too far we were not stressed. The cameras were out and snapping, the voices rapping and soaring in song as we motored along, making our way towards a weekend of play. Mark Gamble of EDUCO had been complaining of a particularly hard week at the office and it was remarkable to see how the mirthful energy of the students totally moved him to a high state of enthusiasm and got his eyes sparkling once again.

One or two stops for petrol and supplies along the way and a few more delays for photographic opportunities saw the group trundle into the campsite. The sun was getting low and it was already cold at an altitude of one kilometre. With beanies on heads and jackets keeping us warm, we unpacked, started with supper and made a fire in the chalet whilst sorting out sleeping arrangements.

After wolfing down an impressive lamb stew, Mark assembled the group into a circle and led a very informative and clever check-in with all present. We were asked to be a traffic light and then give reasons for being a certain colour. Red if you were feeling bad, orange if you were ok but something was bothering you and green if you were super happy. We thankfully discovered through the one red that Asemahle had a serious tooth ache and we were able to administer pain killers so she could at least get a good night’s rest.

The rest of the evening was a blur of some very raucous singing and dancing. We have five budding thespians in the group and all were in full flight with the rest of the class joining in with djembe drums, dance or song. Somewhere in the mayhem we were quietened with a prayer for a classmate who was absent due to the tragedy of losing her mother the night before. We sent love her way and at the same time acknowledged how lucky we all were to be alive and full of youthful energy. After the prayers we watched a BBC documentary on the making of the “Living Planet” series just to show how photography can be used to communicate and as a source of income.

Saturday dawned bright beautiful and crisp! We were in for a great day! After breakfast we applied sun-cream and sauntered off into the pristine veld for a few hours. It was a photographer’s delight and Mark and I both found many moments to laugh at the antics of the enthusiastic photographers. They were clambering on top of rock formations, inside rock formations and were often seen on their knees in the dirt capturing flowers and insects. We picnicked at a Palmiet surrounded pristine red water pond that few dared to swim in. It was freezing, far colder than any Clifton experience. We created some group shots and then headed back to camp for a well earned afternoon siesta.

The sunset was spectacular and for this we walked to a lookout point where one could spot Table Mountain far into the hazy distance. It was a vast and quiet space and the beauty of the syrup like light gave us all a great opportunity to create some amazing moody and creative photographs. One by one we found our reasons to tear ourselves away from the fading light of the sunset and head back down in the dark to the chalet where preparations for supper were underway.

After a healthy braai we proceeded to play a variety of games in a variety of languages around the fireplace, accompanied by some song and dance of course. In stark contrast to the night before, by eleven o’ clock most students had run out of energy and proceeded to their dreams. With those that still had some gas in the tank we went for a night walk and tried our hand at night photography which proved to be a lot of fun.

The final day was very relaxed, the environment and the energy spent had affected everyone and we took our time eating breakfast and packing up. To bid farewell we climbed a short yet demanding little mountain to get one last bird’s eye view of the landscape.

Once again I count myself lucky to have been a part of this experience and would like to add my thanks to Sikhumbuzo, from last years class, for his sense of responsibility, enthusiasm and helping me manage this group of energetic young people throughout the year. Mark Gamble from EDUCO is an amazing person who is dedicated to social upliftment and has an amazing gift in communicating with the youngsters. I hope we will create many great experiences together in the future.

Thank you Ruth, Cecil and all at EwB for your support.

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The SEED program at Fezeka is beginning to take root. This is a program funded by Education without Borders and focuses on bringing interactive environmental education to schools such as Fezeka. At Fezeka the SEED program has funded the school food garden as well as the school’s wind turbine, which provides clean electricity to the sciences lab.

As explained by Green Practice’s facilitator Bood Carver, the SEED program is now in its second year at Fezeka. It has helped connect local residents with farming culture, bringing not just students to the project, but also parents, unemployed residents, and elders. SEED’s success is that it not only teaches residents and students about where their food comes from, it also helps build a community around a public space. Public environs are often neglected in urban slums because residents do not have the means or incentives to develop such spaces. Without safe public spaces it is very difficult for residents to develop healthy learning communities.

Below is Bood Carver’s article to us. Feel free to read and comment on it. Who knows, perhaps you have some ideas that can be used to make the garden work even better!

Glen

Green Practice by facilitator Bood Carver

In the second year with SEED, Fezeka has really stood out. The caretakers are hardworking and there is a strong farming culture and practical awareness of the need to grow food here at this school. We are fortunate to have such dedicated staff here and some individuals are highly successful gardeners. We try and integrate and respect their techniques as much as possible and often they are included in lessons with learners. This has helped to build a collaborative and successful partnership with the school. The garden is beautifully designed and cared for. It is neat and highly productive. Learners are very interested in many aspects of the garden. Medicinal plants and remedies are a favorite topic, as is global warming and permaculture. It’s amazing to hear how knowledgeable the grade 10’s are on these topics, especially medicinal plants.

There is great community involvement at this school and we are regularly having conversations over the fence with community members. One unemployed father, Mfundo has asked to sit in on occasion in SEED lessons. Another old man often gives great gardening advice from across the fence when he’s walking past. The wind turbine and garden attracts attention to the school and

people feel free to interact spontaneously and often ask questions concerning the garden. We are keen and looking forward to expanding the food garden to produce more vegetables next term.

Highlights:

Great lessons on medicinal plants with great involvement from learners. There was great interest in common remedies, which are derived from plants that we had growing in the garden. Sam Freedom bought a small jar of “Miracle ointment”, made from Kooigoed, Comfrey, Rosemary and Lavender.

The new worm farm and banana spiral are amazing and functioning very well and we have been highly impressed with the size of the vegetables that are growing at this school!

FEZEKA PRIMARY

MITCHELLS PLAIN

Green Practice

Facilitator: Bood Carver

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