A group of 20 students from St. Lawrence College in Kent England recently visited South Africa with African Insight on a wildlife studies and authentic cultural immersion experience in the Kruger Park region of South Africa. Prior to their trip the group organizer expressed the group’s wish to undertake a community project in a local school whilst on the cultural immersion component of their trip.
In 2011 African Insight, through the People and Parks division of Kruger Park, were introduced to and worked with the Hundzukani community outside the park on a social anthropology project with a group from Roehampton University in the UK, and an informal partnership was formed with a local entrepeneur involved in tour guide and hospitality training. The community partner was contacted and a project with the local primary school headteacher was soon arranged. The school had identified the desire to have a Jungle Gym for the preschool (Grade R) pupils.
African Insight found a service provider, who, having worked with a child occupational therapist has designed a jungle gym and has all the necessary Dept of Education approvals and could supply a complete Jungle Gym in kit form. Arrangements for delivery to Hundzukani were made.
The budget was worked out and the students set about raising the funds. Finally, almost a year later, the students arrived in Hundzukani in the early afternoon, with African Insight owner Andrew Anderson and guide Stewart Nolan. After a welcome meal with their hosts and community ‘chaperones’ (youngsters from the village paid to be with the group from rising to sleeping) and formal introductions to the village elders, their host and chaperones took them on a walking tour of the village to get a feel for their surroundings and to meet some of the neighbours. The group was divided into smaller groups (max 4 per group) and billeted out to host families within the community who have been trained on the ins and outs of hosting foreign visitors, few had any prior experience but all were eager to participate. It was obvious that the hosts were as excited as the students.
The group ate dinner together (and each night in the village) and then retired with their various hosts to their accommodation. After breakfast the following morning with their hosts they met at the predetermined time for a project briefing and to get started. Next came the off loading of the various items and with the help of Fanie, the owner of the Jungle Gym company, they set out the kit in its various parts on the designated area in the fenced school ground.
With Fanie, Andrew and Stewart operating the power tools and the students and chaperones doing the holding, measuring, hammering, sanding and finally varnishing at the end of two days the project was completed. Throughout the project a lively and excited bunch of kids, having recognized the bright blue slide and swings, eagerly awaited the opportunity to play. In the meantime we had to distract them by taking turns in kicking a ball that the students had brought.
Late on the second day the last of the varnish was applied and the school yard locked for the night to allow the varnish time to dry. The next day there were some final touches to do, much to the disappointment of the crowd of anxious expectant kids that were by now desperate to ‘have a go!’
Finally it was ready and what an absolute privilege it was to see the pure delight on the faces of the kids as they threw themselves at the jungle gym.
Well done St. Lawrence College for making a difference : you have brought huge pleasure to a most appreciative group of kids.
I’ll be heading to South Africa with Roehampton University this year, and staying with the Hundzukani tribe as well. Do they speak Afrikaans? Loved reading this report, made me even more excited!
While most of the older population will be fairly competent in Afrikaans as they would have grown up on farms and would have acquired the Afrikaans language from the land owners, the predominant language in the village is Shangaan with many people being able to speak Sotho as well. We hope you’ll have a great trip!