CITW Eco-Mentor Training Takes Off In Makuleke

Jun 2, 2015 Community and Culture
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19 volunteers from the Kruger National Park’s Makuleke Concession put up their hands to become Eco-Mentors in their community…

Led by Children in the Wilderness’s Regional Coordinator, Bongani Baloyi, Makuleke’s latest eco-mentor training took place from 19 to 21 May 2015 with the following key components:

• Registration and introductions
• Purpose of the training workshop
• Our definition of volunteering
• Introduction to Children in the Wilderness
• What is a Mentor and Why become an Eco-Mentor?
• How to successfully run and sustain an Eco-Club
• Lesson plans and activities (Respect, Appreciation, Tippy-taps)
• Support from CITW
• Information sharing
• How to engage with schools, CPA, MTC and other stakeholders
• A walkabout to Makuleke dam

The training began with the filming of Vukosi Mashaba, a volunteer eco-mentor from Makuleke village. The filming took place at his house and on his way to the training venue. The training approach was interactive and fun-filled, to conform to the CITW programme teaching and training style. More filming involved capturing Day 2’s stirring start with the trainees’ rendition of the Makuleke local anthem, Tiko ra Makuleke. Watch a snippet here.

CITW Makuleke Eco-Mentor Training 2015

SA Project Coordinator Janet Wilkinson will facilitate the work of the Eco-Clubs at Makuleke and Vonani Khosa (our local coordinator) will provide them with information going forward.

The walkabout to Makuleke Dam was conducted to expose the trainees to the litter problem at the dam. As soon as the participants realised the reality of environmental degradation, they started to brainstorm and discuss possible solutions to address the problem, including starting a clean-up campaign and a litter awareness campaign. The participants are aware that they will need cooperation and assistance from the local traditional council, local municipality, DEA, and most importantly the community members who are affected – not to mention the culprits.

CITW Makuleke Eco-Mentor Training

Each trainee eco-mentor was given a set of children’s storybooks (seven collections) and all were encouraged to use them. Fourteen children’s books and 10 ‘Save our Planet’ books were handed over to the Makuleke Library and Teachers’ Resource Centre. Needless to say, the library staff was delighted with the donation.

In conclusion, all volunteers said that they gained valuable skills and knowledge which will enable them to run the Eco-Clubs as well as to initiate school and village environmental projects.

Phanny Makhubele Risimati, a volunteer from Makuleke village summed up the week perfectly: “I had always wanted to do something to educate my community about wildlife and the environment but did not know where to start. CITW gave me the opportunity through this training to realise my dream by allowing me to participate in this programme”.

Phanny donated a flower gift he made from recycled plastic and old wire.

The training sessions and activities were filmed by James Hendry and Brent Leo-Smith while Janet Wilkinson provided support for the training.

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By Bongani Baloyi

Bongani Baloyi is CITW's Regional Programme Coordinator, assisting Dr Sue Snyman with various projects as well as playing a role in assisting with developing a standardised curriculum for the Youth Environmental Stewardship (YES) programme and assisting on Mentor/Teacher training in the regions. Bongani is a graduate in Administration and Management from Tshwane University of Technology with extensive experience in stakeholder relationships and working with communities, CBOs and NGOs. A stint with Statistics South Africa also gained him invaluable administrative experience. He has previously worked as the CITW Eco-Club Community Liaison in his home village, Makuleke in Limpopo Province. As the Implementation Officer in the Makuleke Communal Property Association, he was involved in the implementation and stakeholder liaison of various community projects at grassroots level.

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