A young schoolgirl marches purposefully up to the tree where a long metal tube hangs down from one of the higher branches. She reaches to grab a thick stick that has been resting against the tree-trunk and hoists the heavy baton with both hands, raising it high above her right shoulder. With authority she swings the stick to connect with the metal tube sending a very deep gong sound reverberating through the school grounds. Three clear strikes then, while the sound carries in the air, she replaces the stick against the trunk of the old tree, turns on her heel and strides off to class.
That sound brought to an end a netball match taking place in the dusty multi-purpose sports field at the back of the schoolyard. Girls were exhausted with the effort of running from one hoop to the other, finding the gap to pass the ball to their teammate until they lobbed it into the hoop for a score. Later in the day, the field would be the venue for a serious football match for the boys. But now, everyone was in the classroom and the learning continued, just the handsome cockerel plodding around the pathways in the schoolyard as if he was some high-ranking official on patrol, keeping all in order.
Under the trees in front of where the new classroom block was being built, a meeting was being held between the Children in the Wilderness (CITW) and Wilderness Safaris representatives, the Parent Teachers’ Association and the community elders. An update was being given on the status of the new playground for the pre-school children, the new water pump, tank stands, garden, reservoir and electric fence, and other matters. Working with communities in remote areas adjacent to its operations is one of the key areas of sustainability that Wilderness Safaris takes seriously.
While the meeting continued, we saw some young boys around the water tank next to the vegetable garden, where the CITW Eco-Club members have recently planted some crops. They took time to show off their vegetables and tell us, very proudly, how they spend their afternoons working in the garden to supplement the feeding scheme. Feeding young school children is critical to their ability to concentrate. Every day lunch is provided for the learners by parents who volunteer on a rotational basis to prepare the lunch. Children wait patiently under the trees for their turn.
CITW and Wilderness Safaris and their guests work together to help communities in so many ways. To keep up to date with projects and progress, or to donate funds, please follow the link to their website www.childreninthewilderness.com.