Category Archives: 2013 The EXPEDITION Project

Levelle perspectives supported the work of The EXPEDITION Project (TEP) in mid-2013 by doing some voluntary media work along its 41 day route – the 3rd one of the year so far! Some of the project posts and blogs from TEP’s search for social development and conservation success stories in South Africa are posted below.

agulhas

Africa’s Southern-most Goings-on

Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative, Breadasdorp
Close to Africa’s southern tip of Cape Agulhas, we visited the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) offices and were intrigued to learn about the similarities between some of the objectives of both ABI and The EXPEDITION Project. Like The EXPEDITION Project and among its many objectives, ABI aims to facilitate and improve networking and coordination between like-minded groups, with a particular focus on conservation in the Overberg. Specifically, its objectives are known as their “5 C’s”: Convene interested and affected parties; Collate information and data; Communication facilitation; Conceptualisation of projects; and Cash raising.
ABI crop
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives, © 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

For more information about the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative, visit http://www.flowervalley.org.za/what_we_do/agulhas_biodiversity_initiative.

*  *  *
The Joshua Tree, Bredasdorp
Within the Agulhas Biosphere area, we found a brilliant example of a job creation initiative taking roots under the name of The Joshua Tree.
joshua single
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

This skills development non-profit organisation is part of Lishtol Community Projects. Local people are trained in woodworking skills, which they then improve and refine by working together to share what they have learned. The craftsmen we met on site were very proud to show us the beautiful products they make – all of which are crafted from salvaged wood. Oak barrels are given a new life  as furniture and cheese boards, while other recycled wooden material is transformed into stunning rustic picture frames. As the crafters are from the local community, they also serve as a valuable link for the charitable focus of the NPO. The Joshua Tree is a for-profit business with a social conscience as driving force. And with an irresistibly beautiful product line!
Joshua crop
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives, © 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

For more information about The Joshua Tree, visit http://thejoshuatree.bradly.co.za.

* * *
Meals on Wheels, Struisbaai
Meals on Wheels provides daily hot, nutritionally balanced meals to a huge number of children in the local community, most of whom wouldn’t be able to access them if they weren’t brought to their neighbourhoods. They also provide meals to the elderly on a smaller scale. It’s a full time job and appreciated by so many. When they realised that this wasn’t enough, however, the Meals on Wheels team embarked on bigger talks… A project managed under Meals on Wheels is to provide a safe haven for children who have to be removed from their homes for various reasons, all of which relate to abuse. Building up their confidence and sense of worth is coupled with the objective of eventually reuniting children with their rehabilitated families in a stable home environment. Their role in the community is understated, but overwhelmingly positive in impact.
Meals on wheels crop
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

This photo blog was prepared in support of The EXPEDITION Project 2013.

Garden route

Behind the “Glitz” of the Garden Route

Plettenberg Bay is known for its stunning beaches and glitzy holiday homes, but we found a gem of a different kind in Kranshoek on Plett’s Robberg Peninsula. This was a return visit for The EXPEDITION Project and Phillip navigated the team to the ongoing projects of Kranshoek, filling us in on all the updates over the past year.
hearts Philip 1
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

We were met with a warm welcome at the children’s library, which was filled with books for all ages and in a variety of languages. The librarian mentioned that the outside of the building is sometimes vandalised with graffiti so we brainstormed an idea we picked up from the Valleys and Mountains Development Foundation in Bonnievale where colourful murals have been painted on large wall spaces throughout the town. Maybe this is something that the TEP team could help with on a re-visit. Watch this space!
hearts Philip library
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

We walked to the Kranshoek Community Development Centre where they are busy with a number of initiatives, including a vegetable garden and nursery, a youth band which is also linked to life skills learning, and an upholstery workshop for local entrepreneurs. And on the other side of Kranshoek, we popped in to visit with the team at the House of Hope – a local soup kitchen.
kranshoek
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

hearts Philip house hope
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

*  *  *
Our plans to join the Masithandane team in their mosaic activities were derailed by the fact that we arrived immediately before the Knysna Oyster Festival, which presents a huge opportunity for the crafters to sell their wares. As such, they were busy getting as much product ready for the market as possible. Our time, however, was not wasted; Lettie and Lisa helped out with some of the tasks that Masithandane said they never seem to get to, like colour coordinating Masithandane‘s stacks of tiles!
Hearts masi mosaic crop
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives, © 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

For more information about Masithandane, visit http://www.masithandane.org/.

*  *  *
Our last stop along the Garden Route was to Thanda Jesu where we learned of the huge strides made by this project since it started in October 2012. Inspired by the need to support the impoverished children and families in the local area, Thanda Jesu has grown tremendously such that it now provides a number of community support services, including a unique initiative whereby food parcels are exchanged for time spent packing them. For example, packing 100 food parcels provides an individual with five packages to take home, which is enough to feed a family of six for the week! TEP looks forward to following this project and helping them to network with similar initiatives around the country.
Hearts thanda jesu crop
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives, © 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

For more information about Thanda Jesu, visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thanda-JESU-Wilderness-Heights/246796315465249.

This photo blog was prepared in support of The EXPEDITION Project 2013.

Isipho

Fun and Games at Isipho near Addo Elephant National Park

Playing sports with 100+ children? Really? Some of us definitely felt a bit intimidated by this project visit prospect. Thankfully, as Roger stepped up to bat on the make-shift cricket pitch, Lettie and Lisa were tasked with much less strenuous activities – colouring and reading stories!
Isipho cricket

 Isipho colour
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

Wednesday is ‘sports day’ at Isipho Multipurpose Centre; on other weekdays the kids get stuck in with various other educational and recreational after school activities. About 75 children are at Ishipho’s crèche from 8 ’til 4 every day of the week, and we managed to catch one of the two classes mid-nap. We distracted the other class – and gave the teacher a bit of a break – by showing the children photos of themselves.
Isipho creche
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

The week before our visit, permaculture training had taken place at Isipho’s gardens, so they were busy doing a bit of an overhaul when we were there. Food grown in the garden is supplemented by fresh eggs from the chickens in the adjacent coop, and both provide a hearty meal to the kids who attend the crèche.
Isipho garden
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

As we were about to climb in the Landy, we realised that the kids and staff at Isipho were assembling to say good-bye. Spirited singing and dancing erupted and kept us entertained for at least another ½ hour – our best farewell yet. Thank you to everyone at the Isipho Multipurpose Centre!
Isipho dance
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

This photo blog was prepared in support of The EXPEDITION Project 2013.

addo car and ellies

EXPEDITION: Conservation

Lettie and Lisa were whisked away by one of Sibuya’s rangers. As they boarded the boat to navigate the river to camp, Roger and Mark warned them of something called “khaki fever”. Their puzzled faces said it all…
Sibuya ranger
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

Sibuya Game Reserve and Tented Camp is one of the many conservation efforts in the area that focus of the rehabilitation of agricultural land. The camps are completely off-grid, generating power through solar energy with generator backups, and Sibuya participates in a cheetah breeding programme. The game viewing was fantastic, including a black-backed jackal and buffalo herd at the waterhole at sunset, and the elevated boardwalk through the thick riverine forest makes you feel like you’re completely in the middle of the wilderness.
sibuya cropped
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography, © 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

For more information about Sibuya Game Reserve and Tented Camp, visit www.sibuya.co.za.

* * *

We woke to a misty morning, but Lettie and Lisa were not deterred. They fearlessly joined the fence patrol team whose responsibility it is to ensure the security of the Amakhala Game Reserve perimetre. Truth be told… Dedos did all the work with his handy little voltage metre and bag of tools, while Debbie skillfully navigated the dirt tracks.
amakhala mist
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

In addition to having a great time and learning how much work it is to actually maintain a game fence, they also managed to squeeze in some game viewing and spotted a rare blue duiker and large herd of giraffe. They also crossed paths with the Amakhala ecologist who was tracking the cheetah who were due to be relocated to the Free State – marking the first time in over 100 years that wild cheetah would roam freely in that province.
amakhala dedos
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

amakhala us

For more information about Amakhala Game Reserve, visit www.amakhala.co.za.

* * *

Angus – our trusty Landy – wound his way down to the ocean where The EXPEDITION Project team joined the interns at the Nature’s Valley Trust to tag along on their research activities. It turned out to be a lot of fun; some of us even rolled up our trousers to wade in the chilly river to collect samples for data entry to complete a “mini SASS” (it’s ok to look that up – we did). After identifying mayflies and various other creatures, the NVT team calculated that the river is in excellent health!
nvt jump
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

Equally fun was checking the speed, PH, and temperature of the ocean and the lagoon. Really, we played in the sand more than anything and thank goodness for that because according to our findings, the temperature of the water was only 10.4 degrees..!! We struggled to imagine how difficult it might be to do all of this with the groups of children that the NVT interns take out weekly from various local schools. They do a great job to ensure that local youth are aware of the importance of healthy ecosystems.
NVT collage cropped
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography, © 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

For more information about the Nature’s Valley Trust, visit www.naturesvalleytrust.co.za.

* * *

Usually when people think about seeing animals in enclosures, they have a certain ‘zoo-like’ expectation. However, we were proven that other options are possible during our visit to Monkeyland and Birds of Eden in the Craggs. The sanctuaries enable rescued primates and birds to live a ‘semi-wild’ existence in their 12ha of indigenous forest (for the primates) and the largest enclosed aviary in the world (for the birds).
mkland collage cropped
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography, © 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

The curator at Monkeyland showed us how primates are introduced into the forest and we were fortunate enough to see two spider monkeys getting familiar with their soon-to-be new home and interacting with other ‘residents’ through their specially designed enclosure. When their behaviour is less ‘humanised’, the curator will make the call to release them. These particular monkeys will then be the largest species in the sanctuary.
mkland dom
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

For more information about Monkeyland and Birds of Eden, visit www.monkeyland.co.za and www.birdsofeden.co.za.

This photo blog was prepared in support of The EXPEDITION Project 2013.

untitled-5

Friends of Chintsa – big picture thinking

What a relief to get to the coast and some warm weather. Upon first sight of the ocean, Lettie broke out in a sing-song, “I can see, I can see, I can see the sea!” Not only did the seaside setting put us in better spirits, but the team at Friends of Chintsa had generously organised an entire itinerary of projects for us to visit.
FOC start
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

Tobz jumped in the navigator’s seat (amongst Lisa’s birthday balloons) and directed us to the first stop. Phiks then took over and told us all about the vegetable garden, seedling project, and nursery on the municipal land at the top of the hill. This is not only a food security project, but also an income generating initiative. Phiks and his team are committed to an organic approach to growing things and even use fertiliser produced by the worm compost.
FOC Pix crop
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives (top), © 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography (bottom)

Noxie then showed us around the Thuba Bamboo project. She is one of a team of bamboo crafters who make bird feeders, curtains, and bird houses from their local bamboo plantation (which was another job creation project in the area). The Thuba Bamboo team sell their wares at local markets and are looking into other expansion opportunities.
FOC bamboo crop
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

The Ntuthukweni Crèche was just a few metres away, providing essential early childhood development to local children. Robyn and Bantu shared their experiences and the challenges they face. Their endless energy was apparent and we struggled to keep up as we were yet again in demand as climbing frames and paparazzi (the kids loved seeing photos of themselves).
FOC creche
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

Chintsa East Primary School was a short walk down the road. We were incredibly impressed by the computer lab that benefits the learners there. An essential part of this is the bringing in volunteers to teach the learners how to use the computers; the program therefore doesn’t take up valuable time from the teachers. The school’s feeding programme, which ensures that all children aren’t trying to learn on an empty stomach, is supplied by well tended on site vegetable gardens. A recent biogas installation provides power from waste material – a truly self-sustaining formula.
FOC School crop
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography (top), © 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives (bottom)

Tobz then led us to the recently completed sports field but we didn’t manage to catch any sporting action apart from the cows grazing on the lovely lawns. So… he took us to the “finale” – one of the most innovative ideas we’ve seen. The Big Green E-Machine – a mobile computer lab for schools that don’t have adequate facilities for permanent computer labs. Tobz is the proud driver of the Big Green, which is fully kitted out with solar panels to power the laptops.
FOC tobz
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

Friends of Chintsa is a non-profit organisation that works in partnerships with a variety of other local organisations in the fields of education development, environment, social transformation, and sport development. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with them – thanks FOC! For more information about the activities and achievements of Friends of Chintsa, visit www.friendsofchintsa.org.

This photo blog was prepared in support of The EXPEDITION Project 2013.

matfontein first photo

Hunting in the Karoo… Project Hunting, that is

We arrive in some towns with few, if any, contacts and no preconceived ideas with the hope that we’ll come across an unexpected project gem. Often this means discovering something in its teething stages, whereas other times people are struggling to figure out how to get started. And then there are also those who have given up before they even get going.

In Victoria West, for example, chatting to people in the street led us to a bundle of government funded social initiatives including a soup kitchen for the youth and elderly, and a variety of skills development programs for the unemployed.
Vic west

vic west soup
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

Unexpected, old fashioned charm welcomed us to Matjiesfontein. In addition to taking in the touristy highlights, however, we also managed to find a government-sponsored herb garden and nursery that looked like it had some real potential.
Mat bus
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

Mat nursery
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

A great up and coming swop shop project that we found in Prince Albert has already seen some significant success after only a year of being in operation. Children in the community bring recyclable materials to the swop shop where they are weighed in exchange for points. Points can then be used to purchase a meal or something from the shop, which s stocked with various items, ranging from food to pencil cases and clothing, most of which are donated by local people.
swartberg pass

prince albert
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

This photo blog was prepared in support of The EXPEDITION Project 2013.

breede sign

“Skills for Life” at the Breede Centre

True to its slogan, “Skills for Life”, The Breede Centre strives to empower unemployed people in the local area with entrepreneurial skills.
breede tools
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

Current training includes woodwork, computer skills and needle work, while plans are in place to add gardening, cooking, hairdressing, and other practical courses to the subject list.
Breede shelves
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

Skills taught ensure that students are able to produce high-quality, unique goods so that they can be sold in markets where returns are sufficient to enable funding for ongoing training as well as an income for the entrepreneurs themselves.
Breede wooden animals
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

Pieter Halloway started The Breede Centre after teaching in the local schools for a number of years. This experience made him very familiar with the pressures facing youth in the area. High levels of unemployment lead some youth to drug and alcohol abuse, so Pieter is striving to alleviate this by passing on his skills in maths, woodwork, accounting, and building (among others). Fundamental to his approach is ensuring that people are supported to believe in themselves.
Breede Pieter
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

For more information about The Breede Centre, visit www.facebook.com/TheBreedeCentre.

This photo blog was prepared in support of The Expedition Project 2013.

lisa

Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary in McGregor

This is surely the best retirement home a donkey could ever wish for! The Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary on the outskirts of McGregor is currently home to 19 of these gentle creatures, each with a different story.
Donkey lettie
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

We immediately fell in love with the curiosity and nuzzling of the donkeys who approached us. Others were less inquisitive, which was simply explained by the caretakers as being consistent with “good days” and “bad days” in the life of a donkey.
Donkey eyor
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

The Donkey Sanctuary not only gives a safe, permanent home to rescued donkeys, but also conducts outreach activities with donkey owners, veterinary support, practitioner workshops, and an education project for school children that has produced resource packs in both English and Afrikaans.
Donkey jennifer
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

If you would like to visit the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary, they’ll be moving to their larger property just 4 kms outside of McGregor where you’ll find them before the end of 2013. Donations and adoptions are also possible: visit www.donkeysanctuary.co.za for more details.
Donkey roger
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives
Donkey teeth
Quick Ass Fact: The age of a donkey is determined by the growth pattern of its teeth! :)

This photo blog was prepared in support of, The Expedition Project 2013.

Bonnie People

Bonnie People in Bonnievale

We didn’t drive very far – in fact, only from one part of the small town of Bonnievale to another – but were surprised to discover yet a whole new team of passionate local people working to improve the future for youth at Bonnie People.
Expedition bonnievale guy
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

We arrived to a veritable hive of activity – loo blocks being installed, children playing on the swings, classes taking place, a football being kicked around, a car being washed, and another team of visitors staring back wondering who we were too.
Expedition Bonnievale-113
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

Much like the Valleys and Mountains project we had just visited, Bonnie People also runs a creche and a variety of activities and training programmes for youth who struggle with the conventional school system.
Expedition bonnievale a
© 2013 Lettie Irving Wildlife Photography

There is a huge vegetable garden running along the edge of the property that, in future, could supply food for learners or an income stream through the sale of surplus vegetables.
Expedition Bonnievale-107
© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

For more information about The Bonnie People project visit www.bonniepeople.co.za.

This photo blog was prepared in support of The EXPEDITION Project 2013.

mvdt outside wall

“Learn today, lead tomorrow”

When we walked into the Valleys and Mountains Development Foundation, the first thing that we  was the degree of focus of the +/- 20 youth busy with their paper-maché creations. They were all incredibly immersed in their work – a buzz of teens sculpting out of recycled drink containers, cardboard boxes, and anything else they can get their hands on!

© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

The goal of the Valleys and Mountains Development Foundation is to provide opportunities for youth who might otherwise find themselves tempted by drugs and alcohol, crime and / or getting involved with gangs.

© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

After school activities offered by the Foundation include the visual arts, dance classes, boxing, and drama, while daytime learning opportunities are available to those youth who are no longer attending school. Starting at the beginning – with the little children – is fundamental to Foundation’s success, which is why they also offer a crèche right next door.
mvdt painted wall

© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

Positive feedback, encouragement, helping them to realise that they can choose, they can speak up for themselves, they do have a voice is summarised by the project’s slogan: “Learn today, lead tomorrow”.

© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

One of many success factors that was mentioned by the project team was that assignments, which have certain guidelines provided are still open to interpretation in terms of how the learners want to complete them and it is this freedom that makes possible their growing confidence levels.

© 2013 Lisa Scriven | levelle perspectives

As pointed out by the project team, the objective is to bring out the confidence that each individual has within themselves, but hasn’t yet discovered…

For more information about The Valleys and Mountains Development Foundation visit www.valleysmountainskids.co.za.

This photo blog was prepared by, and in support of, The EXPEDITION Project 2013.