“Inspire, Nurture, Cultivate”: Working with ECP

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Etienne Basson is a Earthchild Project facilitator in our environmental programmes in Lavender Hill. Read what he has to say about working work our Eco-Warriors as part of the Earthchild Project team…

Six months ago I started my journey with Earthchild Project. I was excited to be part of this inspiring organization. I want to teach people to fall in love with nature and not nature as we know it, but human nature and what comes naturally to them – and with Earthchild Project’s motto being “Inspire, Nurture, Cultivate” it felt like the perfect fit. The idea of connecting with the kids and sharing and teaching them about what I love – nature – brought a certain joy and smile to my face. To think, I could shape how they think and feel about nature through the lessons and maybe, just maybe, inspire one of them to be the next top ecologist or biologist.

I remember walking into my first class and the excitement of the 35 kids immediately overwhelmed me. All they wanted to do was learn about worms and they couldn’t stop talking about what they already knew. I went into all my classes with this excitement and joy and thought about how I can stimulate their curiosity through the practical experience that worm farming and gardening has to offer.

As the months passed and I got to know the children and teachers, I got a different insight into what Earthchild Project was really about, and this was particularly evident at the 8-day Earthchild Alumni Camp in Greyton. Most of the participants have been part of the Earthchild Project Programme for more than 5 years, from the age of about 7 or 8 years old.

At the camp I got to spend more time with the Alumni group and during this time this group of young people really inspired me and changed the way I see and think about Earthchild Project. What really stood out about the group was the way they stood up and took responsibility and promoted the idea of positive actions and initiatives to support their fellow young people.They participated fully, asked questions, and gave valuable opinions and thoughts on important topics and activities presented at the camp. They openly shared their fears, struggles, and obstacles – and worked on their visions, goals and intentions. They helped, supported and encouraged one another through personal issues, struggles and illness that came up at the camp.

As the camp closed I came to the realization that Earthchild Project is not “just” about teaching yoga and worm farming in schools and shaping the next ecologist or yogi. It is truly about this idea of “Inspire, Nurture, Cultivate” – as the slogan says.

Through learning about nature and practicing yoga they get a sense of who they are, and all the positive contributions they can make to their lives, the lives of others, and to nature. And when we look at what’s going on in our communities and country, we need to know that somewhere, somehow, someone will start making positive changes in their lives and in the lives of others. I am proud to be part of the Earthchild Project Team that are making a difference in the lives of so many young people in Lavender Hill and Khayelitsha.

Etienne.

A new year with new adventures

2016_Amanda Norrlander-1-14It’s hard to believe that we are almost through the first month of 2017, while some of us feel like we were still getting used to writing 2016 in our diaries! What with technology and social media, things sure do seem to be speeding up. It’s at times like these that we need to remind ourselves to take a step back, a deep breath in and to just be present in the moment of possibilities for the new year ahead.

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Earthchild Spotlight: Sonwabile Tafeni

In honor of our 10-year anniversary, we are highlighting 10 remarkable Earthchildren from the past and present. Last but not least, our Earthchild Spotlight number ten is Sonwabile Tafeni who is 16 years old and a former student at Sakumlandela Primary School in Khayelitsha. Sonwabile is an engaged yogi, hardworking high school student, and a committed Earthchild alumni. She keeps inspiring me with her personality and engagements and I’ve had the great fortune to meet her a handful of times throughout my past three months in Cape Town. Sonwabile is only 16, but she speaks with such depth and her eyes are clearly set on a bright future for herself and her community.

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Alumni Camp: Strength in Community

In partnership with PYE, we successfully facilitated our 2nd annual alumni camp at the Soewater Environmental Centre. Surrounded by the indisputable beauty of the mountains and ocean, the Staff and Earthchild alumni bonded to create an everlasting family.

The youth participants were bussed in from Lavender Hill & Khayelitsha and exited one-by-one with hesitation and skepticism wondering how the week would unfold for them. Much to their surprise, the feeling of apprehension would soon blow away like the strong force of the Cape Town wind.

Self Expression

Each component of the camp was carefully designed to nurture, challenge & transform the mind, body & spirit of the youth participants. The natural environment not only provided serenity but also offered the capacity for the youth to reach their maximum creative potential.

The dynamic combination of yoga, art, music/dance, & community theatre unlocked hidden talents, interests, and passions that may be subdued through standard education. Creativity was used as a vehicle for youth to get to know themselves in a deeper and sustainable way. “We are looking for the youth to connect with self, their community and then facilitate social change,” Nadia Chaney, PYE Senior Trainer.  Read more

Alumni Event – ‘Open Your Hearts’

Yoga is not about how it looks from the outside – it is about how it feels on the inside. Last week Earthchild Project hosted our second Alumni workshop for 2016. Different sessions throughout the day aimed to teach the youths about yoga, healthy eating, their body and how the balance of all comes together to create awareness and mindfulness.

Over 30 youths attended, all of whom have worked with Earthchild for many years. Throughout the years they have come to experience the positive effect this balance has on their minds, bodies and souls and decided to continue this journey with us.
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Holiday Programmes!

Holidays! Most children love them, but if you live in an under-developed area there is not much to during this period. During the past two weeks, Earthchild  has been running 2  holiday programmes in which children from grade 7 can develop their leadership skills.   

Every morning the programmes starts with an hour of yoga, and there are lots of songs and games involved. Because the theme is leadership, there is also a good amount of time for personal development.

This holiday program we had Amy Silverman as a guest facilitator coming from the United States to give a work shop about Authentic Relating  This methods teaches  participants relating skills to understand one another on a deeper level
IMG-20160327-WA0019 Read more

Starting Strong

School is back in session and we’re excited to be back in class with our Earthchildren, teaching yoga and getting our hands dirty in the worm farms. Earthchild Project is turning 10 this year and we’re feeling inspired for the year ahead.  We’re now working with 48 Living Classrooms, 12 Extra-mural Clubs, 2 Hiking Clubs and 20 Alumni youth – reaching a total of 2500 children! Read more

Alumni Creative Facilitation Camp

Our new Alumni recently completed a 5 day camp training to become better creative facilitators, to more effectively pass on the knowledge they are learning through our project to younger generations. The camp was organised in partnership with Partners for Youth Empowerment (PYE).

The Alumni Programme was established this year, after we saw an increase in the number of returning Earthchildren who had graduated to high school looking to continue their growth and learning. Read more

Guest Post: Mindful Walking Along the Umfolozi River – Athenkosi Khulu

Athenkosi Khulu  is an Earthchild and one of our Alumni. He’s been part of our programme for many years and finished Grade 12 last year.

Recently he had the opportunity, as part of the Earthchild Project Hiking Club, to join the “Wilderness Within” trail for five days of walking and camping combined with meditation and mindfulness guided by a Tibetan Buddhist nun. It allows one to connect to the wild without, and within.  

This is Athenkosi’s experience of the trail in his own words… Read more

Earthchild Hero: Sonwabise or Soso

Sonwabise (also known as Soso by those who love her) is one our alumni and a yoga teacher in our own right – she’s been part of our project for many years and has been teaching the children in neighborhood for nearly as long. Be inspired…

Q. What inspires you?

Being creative and loving myself. My environment is also an inspiration – the challenges keep me strong.

Q. How do you care for yourself, others and the environment?

I especially do yoga and I try to reach out those in need, if I can do something. I try to teach people to live as cleanly as possible. I come from a very dirty environment, where no one cares about clean living. I try to change things a little bit by teaching a small group of kids in our neighborhood about yoga and how to care for the environment.

Q. Who is your role model?

I have two. Sissi Noks because I look at her and I see a parent, like a mother. She’s caring, with lots of discipline and love. She puts others first. And then Beauty from the AYP camp, because she’s a yoga teacher like me and despite her environment she comes from she’s overcome it to become the best yoga teacher she can be. She really is a beauty.

Q. How does yoga make you feel?

It makes me feel relaxed and confident in myself. I can come to a space where I am my own person, not looking at someone else. It makes me feel full and gives me hope that I can accomplish anything.

sosoQ. What is your favorite yoga pose?

Eagle pose, because in life you have to be balanced. Keep your eye on one point, because if you don’t you can get very confused.

Q. If you were an animal what animal would you be?

A kangaroo because it cares for its young by carrying it in a pouch. It’s important if you care for someone, it makes them happy and I’m all about happiness. When I support someone, I give them hope.

Q. What is the importance of education?

Education is important so that you can be open-minded. Life isn’t just about jumping from down here to up there – you have to go through the obstacles so that you can know that with hard work comes success.

Find out more about our Alumni Programme

Just R200 provides a child like Soso with weekly yoga lessons for a year. You can Share the Love of Yoga by donating, holding a fundraising class or sharing the love on social media

Share the Love

 

Earthchild Hero: Afikile

Afikile is a born leader and one of our Alumni. Her smile and charisma are an inspiration to many. Take some time to get to know her…

Q. What inspires you?

My father. He really inspires me. The man he is now, compared to where he started from.

His life story is that he worked hard to be where he is now. He came from the Eastern Cape with nothing. He had only R60, and my mother was pregnant. He worked hard, he hustled and he brought my mother here to Cape Town. Now he’s a successful business man.

Q. How do you care for yourself, others and the environment?

I take care of myself. I love myself, and my body. I wouldn’t want to be someone else…

I care for others they way that I would want them to care for me. I want everyone to feel safe, to have a connection. It’s a two way thing.

Q. Who is your role model?

My Father and Trey Songz – I love him, he’s the best..

Q. How does yoga make you feel?

It helps me to get to know what’s happening in my body, especially after meditation, I feel calmness. I just breathe and feel myself. It makes me feel calm, relaxed and fresh.

afikile2Q. What is your favorite yoga pose?

Warrior I.

Q. If you were an animal what animal would you be?

I’d be a monkey because it’s crazy. It’s always having fun, jumping up and down. So I think I’d be a monkey.

Q. What is the importance of education?

To be taught things I don’t know. There’re a lot of things I’d like to be helped with like my knowledge of English.  I’d like to learn, learn, learn till I get to a point that I can realise a dream I’ve always had. I want to be a chartered accountant. I’d like to get to a point where I know everything and where I can be a successful woman.

Find out more about our Alumni Programme

Just R200 provides a child like Afikile with weekly yoga lessons for a year. You can Share the Love of Yoga by donating, holding a fundraising class or sharing the love on social media

Share the Love

 

Earthchild Hero: Lekhona, Grade 11

Lekhona is an Earthchild who has been a part of our programme for many years. Now in Grade 11, Lekhona has become a leader and an inspiration for others. Take some time to absorb his wise words below…

Q. What inspires you?

My education. I love education and studying, because it will bring me a better future. It’s a ruler for your future and can take you from nothing to something.

Q. How do you care for yourself, others and the environment?

I care for myself by doing good things for me, like going to the gym or respecting everyone in my community. Everyone, even small children. Then I share knowledge with others that will also be good for them. I’m also aware of worm farming, I used to be scared of worms but now I care for them because I know they’re useful for plants and nature.

Q. Who is your role model?

My mother is my role model. She’s caring about other people, her family. She always does what’s good for me, my sisters and the family.

Q. How does yoga make you feel?

It gives me so much relaxation. Yoga is a skill. When I’m under pressure like for exams, I can remember now to take a deep breath in and to concentrate, to remember what I did to prepare for the exam.

Q. What is your favorite yoga pose?

My favorite pose is the pigeon pose.

Q. If you were an animal what animal would you be?

I would be a cheetah. Cheetahs always protect their families, they always stay together. The youngest ones are taken care of by the older ones. It relates to my mother.

 

yoga and meditation for kidsConnect

We teach children to connect to self, each other and the earth through yoga and life skills.

organic gardening worm-farming for kidsCultivate

We teach children to cultivate practical skills for life through gardening and worm farming.

hiking with kidsInspire

We're inspiring a new generation of young leaders through hikes and holiday programmes.

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