Hi, my name is Fionnuala and I am on the same Earthwatch project as Michelle and Richard.
After a few days of hard hiking and collecting camera images from the various stations we all had a day out visiting a cultural centre and some local artisans. Some of us were a bit worried the trip might be a bit “touristy” but it turned out to be a very interesting and informative day out. We started with a visit to a lodge which had a small museum and cultural centre exhibiting local works of art. The centre had information on some of the local tribes and their use of plants and materials found in their natural habitat as well as some more modern materials – copper wiring makes beautiful bracelets!
From the cultural centre we drove to a Elim which was a really lively, interesting town with a huge amount of tiny corrugated iron shacks which were hair salons. The women all had beautiful hair!
We travelled on to a local wood carver called Thomas who from his very small shed was making beautiful figurines, all of which had a short story attached. From there we went to a village where the woman were working as a co-operative with pottery, then on to a second wood carver and we finished the day with a visit to a second women’s co-operative which produced batiks and bead work. At this co-operative the young children were very eager to have their photos taken and were hugely excited to see their images played back to them on the camera.
The day was a long drive but allowed us to see how small enterprises are working successfully not just to keep local craft skills alive but to provide much needed income to parts of the community. We also got a small feel of what village life in rural areas is like. No telephone, no TV, basic sanitation and lots of rubbish by the road side.
Our second day out was to Pokanong Primary School and it was a really fun day out. The trip started with a visit to Blouberg Nature Reserve where we saw some new animals including zebra.
When we got to the school the pupils were very excited to see us and the teachers were very welcoming. We played an environment game with two of the years who were the older children with a good understanding of English. The game was very good fun for the pupils and the Earthwatchers, but completely unruly! All the kids, and especially the little ones, were so happy we had visited and brought some gifts of stationery and they didn’t want us to leave. We got lots of high fives and hugs from all the children and Michelle actually disappeared under a sea of children at one stage trying to drag her out of the car to stay and play more games with them!
A really rewarding trip and we left with lots of photos of some very happy children.