Crossing oceans and continents we all met @ Polokwane Airport on December 6, 2011. A pit stop at a small supermarket on the way to camp gave us an opportunity to load up on snacks and favourite drinks. After a bumpy last stretch of our journey, we finally reached our destination, Lajuma, to help out with the research project!
On our first full day we got ourselves familiarized with the area. A beautiful path brought us to a waterfall and along the way Oldrich educated us about local flora and fauna.
Judy introduced the Eco-School system to us, which helps schools worldwide to improve the level of education and at the same time adds conservation topics to the curriculum. Math and sciences are used among other subjects to teach conservation issues.
Visiting one of the schools in Pokanong, a day before their long summer vacation, we were formally welcomed by the head master and teachers of the primary school. All pupils greeted us very enthusiastically. We were trained by Judy to play an environmental board game with the ultimate goal to reach awareness about environmental issues, like overgrazing, water use, sustainable farming, animal behaviour and more.
The older children were split into two groups and formed a circle under a tree. Each group was handed out cards with problematic situations regarding farming and wildlife. Questions were asked by us and the pupil who could hand in the right card first, was given a prize.
The second round of the board game consisted of possible answers to the problems raised by round one. Prizes consisted of crayons, rulers, pens and pencils brought to the school by Earthwatch volunteers. It was a lot of fun for everyone. We made sure that every child was given something. At the end we were treated to beautiful traditional African songs and and dances.
Children are the future, so with creating awareness about their own unique environment and culture we hope they will become stewards of their lands!!!
Robbert van Manen (photos)