“I cannot ...” – bury your self stigma
Youth Day 2016 we started our cooperation with Steve Biko High in Kekana Gardens. And what was meant not to be a once off, but a kickoff for continuous cooperation is bearing fruit. In our regular discussions with the officials from Steve Biko High, representatives of the community and the Dinokeng Voluntary Rangers the topic of learners with concentration and learning difficulties was brought up. The principal came up with the idea that a counselling day outside of the school environment might be very beneficial for such learners to help overcoming their self stigma of “I cannot”.
Our voluntary rangers are the right people to turn ideas into practise. Quickly the idea evolved to a plan. The principal was going to identify 25 learners with the said problems, the rangers not only offered to cater for the group at the den, but also to find a counselling expert to run the program for the day. Thanks to Charmaine Blomerus and her team for making their time and expertise available. The solution to the logistics – how to get 25 learners and their teacher from the school to the den and back – was only one request away: Mongena Game Lodge immediately offered their truck.
Saturday, August 20th at 8:00 sharp all selected learners were at the school ground and after a short evaluation of what improvements could be done to the school enviroment, they were on their way to the den. The program of the day was centered around reconnecting to all five senses, since listening to and trusting your senses is the foundation to overcome the big self stigma: “I can't.” All the “cannots” got written down and put in a box. And they had a funeral und buried the animal named “I can't”.
The beautiful nature of the Dinokeng Game Reserve was the canvas to experience all five senses. The learners went out in the veld to collect items to relate with “Touch”, “Hear”, “Smell”, “See” and “Taste” and to collate them into an artwork.
We had the privilege to witness the end of the program. They involved us immediately and it felt as if they were absorbing information like a sponge. It was just amazing to see the interest, the continuous engagement, the stamina after 4 hours of program still asking questions and testing their own assumptions.
Hard to think of learning problems – or did we witness the healing power of nature?
Women's Day in the DGR
For this year's Women's Day, the DGR Community Beneficiation & Relation Committee decided to celebrate the women of the committee and the helpers from the community who made the winter holiday soup kitchen project a success.
Unfortunately not all ladies involved were able to join the eventful day.
Thanks to Gilbert Bartie from Ouklip Game Lodge, who made his game vehicle and time available, we could start off at the Tau Gate for game drive. Amongst others they found the ellies and the most gracious animals of the bush, giraffes, on their way. The relaxing power of nature had started to settle in when the game drive ended at the Dinokeng Voluntary Ranger's Den.
Once more the rangers had gone the extra mile and had turned the classroom into a classy venue.
But before the ladies were allowed to enter, they assembled in the boma. And with a cold drink and room to exchange their first game drive's experiences they could enjoy the next surprise: Being pampered with mini massages and facials by Tebogo from iKetle Spa and one of her ladies.
The gentlemen were executing their braai master skills while the ladies, now inside the well decorated room, were listening to a motivational speech. The lady speaker banned all men outside the room (hence no pictures of this part of the day), but what one could hear from the outside it was a joyful encounter.
Then lunch got served – chicken, boerewors, freshly baked bread, mixed veggies, baby potatoes and sauce. One word: Yummy!
While there are still people in the community around the Dinokeng Game Reserve who doubt that there are actually the Big5 in their direct neighbourhood, the proof is in the pudding!
Only when we dropped the ladies at Tau gate everybody realised how time was flying: the clock showed already past four.
Back to school
And with that said, the soup kitchen project 2016 Kekana Gardens - Dinokeng Game Reserve (DGR) is history.
The need of hungry children, especially during the winter holidays where there is no school feeding scheme, was identified a while back by the DGR Community Beneficiation & Relations Committee and the local community leadership. After weeks of preparation, time did fly by for the three weeks of feeding. What remains is that members of the community living on both sides of the perimeter fence pulled together for a noble cause. And the long hours working as a volunteer, be it in the respective schools’ kitchen, be it in providing the ingredients or organizing in the background, were paid by the happy smiles in the faces of so many children.
This whole project was possible only through the very generous donations of two landowners, donations and favourable pricing of Renbro Super Spar. All efforts of the members of the DGR Community Beneficiation & Relations Committee would have been in vain without the ladies from the schools’ kitchens. They volunteered stirring the pots during their free time during the school holidays, so that mealie meal, vegetables, bones and condiments turned into “pap en sous”.
As a first of its kind the project of course was facing a couple of challenges on the way, but all in all it was minor hick-ups. Much more weighted the impact of some irresponsible elements, which led to the withdrawal of one of the three earmarked schools next to the reserve. Needy children of this school could not be fed, because safety could not be guaranteed due to the attempted land grabs next to the school.
But what remains are the positive:
- an average of 140+ kids had at least one warm meal per day during the winter holidays;
- the standing together and standing in of community members living within the perimeter fences of the game reserve and next to it;
- big smiles on the faces of the children in need and the helpers with the project.
The kitchen teams wore the project aprons with pride.
The embroidery says: “Soup Kitchen Project 2016 – Kekana Gardens + Dinokeng Game Reserve”.
Worn on the way to and from the schools it demonstrated: we are one (and where we might not be yet – this is what we are aiming for).
Kekana Gardens Youth Day celebration
The Community Beneficiation Committee of the Dinokeng Game Reserve in conjunction with the local community leadership wants to thank the Dinokeng Voluntary Rangers, Mongena Game Lodge and Kwalata Game Lodge for their contributions to make Youth Day 2016 a success.
We brought 46 learners into the park, and they loved it.
By 9:00 AM three ladies, Karen Batten Ritchie, Jo-Ann Dorington and Monique van Klev, walked the learners and their teachers from the old Tau Gate to the boom gate, where game view busses from Mongena and Kwalata were waiting.
At 9:30 AM they split into two groups and climbed onto the vehicles accompanied by the driver (certified field guide), two young conservationists (graduates and post graduates selected by the Dinokeng Voluntary Rangers) and representatives of the Steve Biko High School.
The first group went on a three hour game drive ending at the Dinokeng Voluntary Rangers' den. Two of our buffalos made the way close to the gate and provided a great kick-off to the game drive. Despite the pretty late hour of the day, they had great sightings and were even lucky enough to see some of our lions.
The second group were driven straight to the den for a 2 ½ hour edutainment program. The voluntary rangers gave a presentation on careers in conservation and tourism. They even had prepared a handout with relevant information sources, training institutions etc. Three young post graduate conservationists ran the rest of the program. The learners formed two groups to compete with each other on knowledge and creativity. E.g. a learner had to imitate an animal and his group had 20 seconds to identify. A conservation quiz contest required the combination of speed and group intern decision making. And the “savvy” game produced answers to more complex conservation questions.
With the break for a light lunch the Hammanskraal station commander of SAPS addressed the learners, making them aware of the importance of a clean record for their success in life.
Then roles got switched. Group two left for a game drive and group one started with the edutainment program. There was such fun and interest that time did fly by. The learners didn't want to stop, so the game viewer bus left the den late to bring them back to the gate.
ESTABLISHMENT OF DGR EMPLOYMENT AGENCY PROJECT - TAU GATE
The DGR Community Team is working on the establishment of a DGR Employment Agency at the TAU gate just outside the DGR. This will be a joint venture between the DGR and the Community to provide employment opportunities for locals as well as provide a pool of resources for businesses in and out of the DGR. Once the project is off the ground, the project will look at establishing further training ventures to upgrade and prepare individuals for opportunities not only in the tourism industry but also in other areas where particular skills are required in and around the DGR..
To find out more, to send your CV in, or to look for a particular position to fill in your business, please contact Rika Kruger (Head of the Project) at firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information on this developing project will be posted regularly.
(Posted 28 February 2015)
DGR COMMUNITY TEAM MENTORS D'NOKASI CRAFTERS
Members of the DGR Community Team are working closely with the D'NOKASI CRAFTERS at the TAU gate just before you enter the DGR boom gates. This artists co-operative was recently launched and consists of a number of small co-operatives that sell their tourism goods in the D'NOKASI Shop. Richard Lydall and Monique van Klev members of the LOA and the Community Team are assisting them with establishing a business plan for the way forward and are also providing expertise on the type of goods that are suitable for this craft shop just outside the gates of this Big 5 game reserve. We look forward to seeing the results of this collaboration and watch out for some of the D'NOKASI goods in the DGR curio shop at the Ndlovu gate as well.
For further information about this new craft shop contact Mamie at 072 828 5242 or email email@example.com
(Posted 28 February 2015)
DGR TO WORK WITH SCHOOLS IN AND AROUND THE GAME RESERVE
On Thursday 19 February the DGR Community Team met with Principals from a few of the main schools in and around the DGR.
The main purpose of the get together was to find out from the schools what they were currently doing in terms of recycling and environmental education and to establish a commitment to work with the schools in the development of Eco-clubs for the children as well as assist them in establishing a recycling system at the school to encourage the children to be aware of their environment and especially the environment of the DGR of which they are a part.
It was encouraging to see that one of the schools already had a recycling system in place which they integrate with the subject matter at the school.
The DGR is about to embark on the first phase of their recycling system and is hoping to work closely not only with the schools but also with the local community who are already involved with recycling to see how this can be of benefit to individuals, the DGR and the environment.
Updates on the DGR involvement with the schools will be posted on this site to keep you all up to date with our progress on eco-education with these schools.
(Posted 28 February 2015)
The Dinokeng Game Reserve is committed to assist the local community as much as possible with regard to any project that can uplift their quality of life and we encourage you to contact us if you are able to assist with the following:
• Seeds or seedlings for vegetable gardens at the schools
• Books and stationery for the schools and crèches
• Blankets, clothes and food for the Orphanages and Pensioner Homes
• Wool, material, sewing machines and other craft items which could be utilized for craft development
• Any skills which can benefit the community
Please contact Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to help.
DGR STAFF AND LANDOWNERS VISIT JUBILEE HOSPITAL IN HAMMANSKRAAL
On 16 July 2014 DGR staff and landowners visited Jubilee Hospital to present gift packages of baby goods/clothes to the mothers waiting at the clinic.