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Thursday, 23 June 2011

Earthchild Project in June

The Earthchild Project has been busy, busy spreading their positive and uplifting vibes into the month of June. There have been loads of exciting activities going on! The theme for term two at the Earthchild Project is “self” and so this has meant a focus inwards. Term Two’s programmes focus on caring for ourselves, looking after our health and our bodies and trying to nurture a state of happiness in our inner being.  For the Earthchild Project facilitators this has meant conducting healthy living and eating workshops with children and giving them practical tools to implement this into their lives such as teaching children how to grow sprouts and running yoga workshops.

As a part of our healthy body, healthy mind theme Michelle Shubert, who runs the Earthchild Project gardening club programme, harvested vegetables from the Earthchild Project garden and did a healthy cooking demonstration with the children.


She shares her session in Khayelitsha with us...


“Fresh vegetables from the school garden were harvested and made into a delicious, hearty soup for thirty earthchildren. It was a realy wintry day and the rain was pelting down in Khayelitsha. The soup was made in the school feeding scheme kitchen and it was good to connect with the ‘food mamas.’ This group of woman everyday cook for over 1000 children.

The food mamas were really interested in my hot box that I’d cooked the barley and split peas in. This gave us the idea of doing a hot box making workshop with them. This would be an eco-friendly solution, saving gas and making the work more manageable and cost-effective. 

The soup was enjoyed by all! And the children from the worm farming and gardening clubs learnt how to harvest vegetables and prepare a delicious and nutritious soup.”

But Earthchild’s focus is not only on our Earth-children but also on the health and wellbeing of their mentors...

Teacher’s Retreats

Janna Kretzmar, Earthchild Project’s Director, shared her experience of the latest retreat which hosted teachers from one of our focus schools in Khayelitsha:

“On Saturday 11th June the staff and principal of Sakumlandela attended an Earthchild Teachers’ Retreat.  The group was amazed at the beautiful venue, Phakalane in Hout Bay.  Nestled on the mountains, with magnificent indigenous gardens the venue allowed the teachers to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  The intention for the Retreats is to give teachers practical tools to manage their stress and improve their overall health and wellbeing.
The beautiful venue for the retreat, Pakalane in Hout Bay.

 After a brief welcome and intro the teachers were lead through a yoga and breath- work class.  This was followed by a practical and interactive workshop about healthy living which was based around 10 steps such as “Eat less sugar”, “Drink more water” and “Move your body”.  The group then enjoyed a delicious vegetarian lunch prepared by our volunteer chef.  As the Retreat was for the staff of our focus school, we facilitated various team building and trust games and processes after lunch.  There were tears of laughter and lots of fun during the Human Knot, blindfolded walk and other activities.  Throughout the day the teachers also got to have a one hour full body massage which is no doubt the highlight of the day!! 


Overall the Retreat was a great success and the feedback was very positive as you can see from their comments below:”

"The environment was so peaceful and tranquil.  I feel open and free from stress."

"The venue was safe, close to nature, quiet - tranquillity is the order of the day."

About the massage... "I feel the healing effects" & "YHO!!  It’s like I’m a new person now!"

"The yoga helped release my stress."

About the food... "Perfect!", "It was well prepared and very delicious" & "Vegetarian food is actually delicious and healthy with lots of nutritional values."

"You know, sometimes you eat and do things because you don’t have knowledge but now I am a changed person."







Young Woman’s Club
Our beautiful young Earth-Women!

Another very inspiring project I would like to share with you is the Earthchild Project’s Young Woman’s Club run by our inspiring seva warrior, Xoli Fuyani. 

Earthchild Project’s dedicated intern Sarah Mackenzie recently published an article in the “Green Times” which introduces the project beautifully.

 “Together with Hannah Loewenthal, Xoli Fuyani from Earthchild Project started a Young Women’s group six months ago.

When speaking to Xoli about what inspired her to start the group, she said, “Growing up in a township I knew how challenging it is for young people, especially girls. There is a lot of peer pressure. Girls fall pregnant at very early ages, they end up abusing substances and not getting the education they need, which then leads to unemployment. Another huge concern was how under sourced the girls where in terms of knowledge and exposure, most of the girls have few dreams and did not see themselves succeeding in life.”

 Open, free and safe

The Young Women’s group creates an open, free and safe space for 12 girls between the ages of 12 and 16 where they can express themselves freely, sharing with this group their experiences and emotions.

a creative spark

... activities include creative art sessions, which depend on the theme of the day. Themes include visions and goals, feelings and emotions, your relationship with food and body changes. An informative activity about the selected topic includes guest speakers, sharing circles and writing. The group also goes on outings outside the monthly sessions and provides skills development based on the girls’ needs.

The young women enjoying a sharing circle.


... Xoli stated that since she first started the group, she “feels like the girls have come out of their shells. They are now more confident and eager to take charge of their lives.”

This group has inspired these girls to help others and create sustainable change in their communities.” – Sarah Mackenzie

Earthchild Project’s newly born “Scholarship Initiative.” 

I have had the opportunity of connecting with some of these amazing young women through a project I started at the Earthchild Project which aims to refer academically talented children to scholarship schemes which will sponsor their education at Model C or Private schools in Cape Town and through their university years. I have been connecting with scholarship programmes such as the KIDS Foundation and Make a Difference which sponsor children from underprivileged backgrounds. This process requires submitting applications for schools as well as scholarship schemes.  The whole process has been very empowering for these beautiful young leaders. 
One aspect of the application required that the children write essays about their hopes, dreams and motivation for the scholarship. I have been so inspired and taken aback in sharing the powerful dreams, hopes and ambitions of these beautiful young people. I have had to choke down tears of utter amazement and awe as I listened to their views of life, their dreams of a better future and how they were going to play their part in uplifting their communities and changing the world. 
I believe that the emotional intelligence that all these children radiate has been, in a large part, nurtured by the Earthchild Project. They all show a love of self, other and community that is truly inspiring and very overwhelming. I am sure that these amazing life skills together with the right opportunities and access to quality education will ensure that they all succeed in their grand visions.
I would like to share a few exerts with you from their essays.... the human qualities speak for themselves....

My dream is to be a social worker. I want to follow this career because I want to be able to help people face the difficulties in their lives and to become better people because of it. Being a part of the Young Woman’s Club at the Earthchild Project has helped me to deal with my own personal issues and shown me that one day I would like to be a mentor to other young people because I know how helpful it has been to me. “
-          Xabisa Simbulele Maswana, Grade 8 
    
“My goal is to see every child of Khayelitsha make something of their lives and I hope one day we will all be able to get a good education. Khayelitsha is my home and I am proud of it but I do not want to see the children here suffering and struggling to reach their dreams so one day I hope that I can be in a position to help them and I think this will make not only Khayelitsha but also South Africa a better place.
It would mean a lot to me if I got this scholarship because it would help me achieve all my dreams and give me the opportunity to be who I want to be. I really need this scholarship because my parents cannot afford to send me to a good school or university but I know that education is the key, it is everything.”
-          Anelisiwe Ntshingana, Grade 9

“ I have been very lucky to be involved with the Earthchild Project which helped me to realise my potential and to believe in myself. I now know that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to and reach out for the stars. I know that it takes a lot of work to become a doctor but I am very hard working and I know I can achieve it. If I get this opportunity I will work so hard to make sure I succeed and I will be really happy to show other people in my community that they can do it too. “
-          Sonwabise Sifo, Grade 8

  I only hope that all these beautiful children will get the opportunity to shine and follow their dreams, because they all so deserve it! I think their testimonies also speak to the huge value of education and how too South African’s have to fight so hard to gain access to quality education while so many of us take it for granted; a lesson indeed! There is much work to be done on this front in our country. We need to work hard to improve the quality of education in township schools as well as providing talented children with the opportunity of accessing high quality education which can allow them to play their role in uplifting their communities... this is the space where real empowerment and transformation will take place. 

My hope is that this new Earthchild Project Scholarship initiative will provide these talented young people with the opportunity to succeed. It is just another way in which Earthchild Project is aiming to support our Earthchildren in an ever more holistic manner. Funds that I raise on our “Cape to Cairo” adventure will go towards supporting this programme and in doing so ensure that our Earthchildren receive the right mentorship to make the most of their lives. 

These children are the best investment we will ever make!

To donate to the Earthchild Project please copy and paste this link which will lead you to our secure BackaBuddy site:

http://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/riding-cape-to-cairo-for-the-earthchild-project-

Many thanks for your support! 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Three day intensive, ‘face in the mud/sand/river’ off-road riding course


After being offered an arm-twistingly generous discount on his three day intermediate off-road riding course, we were unable to resist the ‘rough and ready’ weekend with Rony Desodt! I left early Friday morning to join Rony and his assistant Jorg in Wellington to begin the weekend at the beautiful Bontebok Ridge nature reserve. We were joined by two brothers from Malmesbury, their big and beautiful (albeit a bit noisy ;) KTM’s in tow! Wow!!! Those things can kick up some serious dust! It seemed that the BMW’s were finally going to be part of a larger, more diverse nation of adventure motorbikes. In the last course the BMW’s far outnumbered the minority Kawasaki KTM’s. 
The KTM's...

Dad on his KLR... beautiful setting!

So there we were, representing a united nations of motorbikes… ready and willing to get stuck in the mud! Well… I was rather more cautious then the rest. I was feeling a bit nervous about the whole weekend since I had finished the last course with an unsavory tumble off a hill, which spooked me a bit. Over sensationalized-flashbacks or more likely, paranoid-predictions of my 200kg bike falling on top of me whilst I tumbled down a hill did not I think help calm my nerves. So I started the weekend off riding rather timidly. Unfortunately for me that is no way to ride these big adventure bikes off-road and will most definitely insure that you face-plant every time. Riding through sand, for example, requires a certain speed to make the front wheel lighter and as soon as you begin slowing down, the front wheel digs itself into the sand, eventually resulting in a royal face-dive. 

So, while my fearless teacher Rony, asserted that he was ‘allergic to tar’… I seemed to suffer from an opposite affliction at the beginning of the weekend… I was most definitely suffering from ‘dirt allergies.’ Especially in comparison to the gung-ho cowboys who were revealing in the adventure and danger of it all… my dad included, did an excellent job of fearlessly conquering sand-monsters, riding through rivers and over huge mountains of dirt. Sorry ladies +1 for the boys! I did however towards the end of the weekend, as Rony put it “get my mojo back!” After conquering the hill a good few times, that sent me flying last course. 
Dad conquering the massive hill... this picture doesn't do it justice!

Jorg, showing us how its done... dancing through rivers.
A side view of the monster hill... "adrenaline junkies only!"

All in all, it was a great weekend, deemed so not only because of the excellent skills so masterfully taught by Rony but also because of the wonderful company. We also got the chance to meet Rony’s wonderful family who joined us for some drinks and laughs on Saturday evening. At each day’s end we enjoyed a wonderful game drive by bike around the nature reserve which is full of beautiful game including the rare and illusive quagga, (a zebra that has forgotten his pajama bottoms!) The nights were filled with great company, Rony’s excellent cooking skills and some hilarious and hair-raising videos and stories of Rony and Jorg’s off-road adventures around Africa. One particularly amusing clip was of Jorg coming around a very sandy bend in Namibia and promptly head butting the ground… you have to see it! Hilarious! It is good to see that even the pro’s take a few nose-dives here and there attempting to tame their wild beasts! Rony and Jorg have done amazing things including driving Van Zyl’s Pass in Namibia (not a road at all!!!), a testimony to their skills! You would never imagine it would be possible to get a bike over this pass… but they have done it! I am quite happy to say that we shall not be driving over such roadless roads on our trip because firstly, I think I would never survive the encounter and I would quite like to enjoy my youthful years with all limbs intact and most importantly our lifelong biking journeys have just began and our skills are nowhere near competent enough to take on such serious terrain. A good dose of realism is necessary to acknowledge we are not yet ready to take the road ‘hardly travelled’ we shall stick for now to the one ‘less travelled,’ just to be safe!
Game drive by motorbike?
Rony showing us how its done on the final adventure challenge of the course!
Avoiding obstacles...

Dad doing a brilliant job on the obstacle course! Go dad!
The hill...

Just showing off ;)


Spitting up some nice sand ...

This is the only picture of me on the bike, the whole weekend. Stolen from Jorg's camera. Riding over obstacles... a tyre here, no problem on these bikes!

 To round up, we had an excellent time and I think everybody learnt a huge amount of new skills. It was amazing to see everybody in the beginning of the weekend starting with just weaving between cones and toward the end of the weekend they were riding through streams and up and down sandy river embankments, on the side of hills with their bodies protruding over their bikes, doing extreme emergency stops and hoping over potholes large enough to cradle a person inside! Good job Rony, you are an excellent teacher. And thanks to Jorg, who did an excellent job in assisting Rony, together you both helped me get my confidence back. These two courses have helped us immensely and Rony and Jorg have already contributed so much to the impending success of our trip, (yes it will be a success!)
Group picture at the end of the course!

Stooping to my level, hehe ;)

Nice one of Jorg aka my babysitter ;) Thanks Jorg for all the help!

Rony and his lovely wife.


 One hugely important thing I was reminded of this weekend is the power of the mind in deeming your potential success or failure in anything you choose to do. With your mind positively behind you, you can do anything but without it you are inept. This integral life lesson I believe is the foundation of the Earthchild Project’s programme. They acknowledge that the kind of development which is needed to empower and regenerate people is of a social nature as well as the often prescribed economic form. The Earthchild Project embraces a holistic approach to development. Embracing a holistic approach means acknowledging that what holds South Africans back from their human potential is not only their historical economic disadvantage but also the far deeper wounds that were inflicted upon their social character and the way that they have been taught to (de)value themselves. The Earthchild Project is focused on ensuring that each one of the children that they deal with is empowered through realising their endless human potential, in spite of their economic disadvantage.  All of their programmes aim at instilling a sense of self-awareness, self-confidence, moral fibre and respect and love for their community as well as the environment. 

Please help us in supporting the Earthchild Project’s wonderful work here in Cape Town. You can do this by forwarding this blog on to others and spreading the word. Donations can also be made directly to the Earthchild Project by following this link:

I would also highly recommend Rony Desodt’s off-road riding courses to anyone who has a love for bikes and adventure riding.  He offers a variety of different courses for all levels and needs. To find out about these as well as the riding adventures he leads into Africa and around South Africa, check out his website:

That’s all for now! Thank you for your support!
A positive affirmation for our South Africa... 

“I believe that in a country that has produced Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Miriam Makeba and Abdulla Abraham, Desmond Tutu and Beyers Naude, Nadine Gordimer and Zakes Mda, we have a right to demand a higher order, to lead the world in a politics of hope... rather than accept the tawdry global political and economic standards, let us have the confidence to achieve the art of the impossible.”                          - Andrew Feinstein

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A Short, Sweet and Illustrated Introduction to the Earthchild Project





 Started at the beginning of 2007, the Earthchild Project focuses on the holistic development of children, teachers, schools and communities.  Their aim is to create meaningful and sustainable change by providing practical skills in how to live a more balanced and fulfilling life with a focus on self-awareness, health and wellness, and the environment.

The Earthchild Project team are young, dynamic and positive.  They live what they teach and think and work out the box.  They are extremely passionate and committed to creating a new generation of healthy, confident, conscious and responsible earthchildren.

Some of the  Earthchild Project team members with Seane Corn and Suzanne Sterling from "Off the Mat," an organisation which donated a classroom at one of the Earthchild Project schools earlier this year. Here we are painting the classroom along with some of the Earthchildren. What a beautiful, positive space to add to Sakumlandela Primary School in Khayelitsha. A little bit of love goes a long way!
Janna Kretzmar, the founder and director of The Earthchild Project in the beautiful garden at Sakumlandela with some of the Earthchildren.
Xoli Fuyani, the Earthchild Project's environmental education coordinator and programme facilitator. She also runs a "Young Woman's Club" with young girls from Sakumlandela High School.
The Earthchild Project team including Linci Abrahams, (second from the left) volunteer coordinator for the Earthchild Project.

Nokuphiwo Jada with the "Arts and Craft Club" at Zerilda Park Primary. Noks is also the permanent Earthchild Project programme facilitator at Sakumlandela Primary.
Me with Michele Schubert, who runs the Gardening club programme for Earthchild Project.

SCHOOLS’ PROGRAMME

An Earthchild Facilitator is placed into the existing structure of a school and with the support of the Earthchild team, teachers, parents, partnering organizations and volunteers, the facilitators introduce and maintain the programme.  Their programme compliments the academic curriculum, and learners are given the opportunity to develop practical skills that can be applied at school and integrated into their lives. 

After the first year their schools have:
  • Extra mural activities – yoga, gardening, worm farming, and arts and crafts
  • Hiking Clubs
  • Beautiful organic vegetable gardens
  • Worm Farms
  • Holiday Programmes
  • Environmentally educational outings and camps
  • Healthy tuckshops
  • School-wide campaigns and assemblies
  • Teachers’ Retreats
Me with some of the kids I teach a weekly yoga and healthy living course to at Sakumlandela Primary School in Khayelitsha.
Doing our "Sun Salutations." Beautiful little Yogis! They are always the highlight of my week... such gorgeous kids!
Pamela, a very passionate little yogi, showing us how the 'down-ward dog' is done best! She often takes it upon herself to teach her friends new yoga positions.
What a beautiful bow, what a beautiful smile!
Phiwe, Pamela and Vuyolethu, my beautiful little meditating yogis!
The Garden Club at Sakumlandela Primary School enjoying a 'sharing circle.'

Our spirited Garden Club at Sakumlandela Primary School.
Zerilda Park garden club enjoying their weekly lesson with the Earthchild Project gardening guru, Michelle.
Beautiful beetroot!

Enjoying freshly picked sunflower seeds.

Planting new seedlings.

Harvesting the fruits of our labour.
One with the Earth...
Xoli teaching children about earthworm farming.
Getting back to nature and getting back to our true and compassionate nature within.

 
As we harvest so we sow... sowing new seeds. The gardens at the schools also support the feeding schemes at the schools so that the meals are delicious and nutritious!  
Earthchild Project also teaches the children how to plant vegetable-crates as a part of their 'Living Classroom" programme.