“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.

Eco-Warriors for Our Planet

Agbogbloshie: a polluted district in Accra, Ghana that is used as an international dumping ground for electronic waste – nicknamed “Sodom and Gomorrah” by locals due to its harsh living conditions.

“I don’t believe that the solutions in society will come from the left or the right or the north or the south. They will come from islands within those organizations, islands of people with integrity who want to do something.”
Karl-Henrik Robert – Founder of The Natural Step

This is part of what we hope our impact is at Earthchild Project – we hope that we are making an island of people who will grow up and start demanding change in their society, and in their world. By educating our earthchildren – our “eco-warriors” – in our schools on the environment and their impact upon it, we hope that this future generation will grow up and contribute to a global attitude of preserving our planet. We hope these children will grow up with a fire in their belly for environmental justice – especially since Africa is one of the most negatively affected continents when it comes to waste.

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Honouring our Earthchild Project Activists

Whether it be two young cousins from Cape Town selling coffee outside their school, an avid hiker from Johannesburg who decided to dedicate climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds, or even three young ladies from America who set a goal to sponsor 150 yoga mats; our activists know how to make things happen! We are so grateful for the support we received from these incredible women in 2016, that we wanted to honour them for their successful Activist Projects.

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Earthchild Spotlight: Katlego Shaloma

In honor of our 10-year anniversary, we are highlighting 10 remarkable Earthchildren from the past and present. Our Earthchild Spotlight number eight is Katlego Shaloma who is 11 years old and in Grade 6 at Sakumlandela Primary School in Khayelitsha. Each time that I have joined the Eco-Warrior Club in Khayelitsha, Katlego has been present and shown herself to be eager to learn. She also has some wild and unruly energy shining through her eyes. You will notice her from a distance, she is definitely something special.

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Earthchild Spotlight: Athenkosi Khulu

In honor of our 10-year anniversary, we will be highlighting 10 remarkable Earthchildren from the past and present. We present to you the third Earthchild Spotlight : Athenkosi Khulu. Athhenkosi has been a part of the Earthchild Project family since the very beginning of our journey. This young man is currently studying at college and will start his very own hiking club with the Earthchild Project in 2017. I had the honour of interviewing him last week.

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Young Eco Activists raise 10 times their target!

Tuesday was a very special day for the Earthchild Project as we were invited to Micklefield Primary School in Rondebosch, Cape Town, where we were awarded a beautiful hand-crafted check for R20 002 from our incredible young eco-activists, Hannah Lea and Emma. Being invited to the school assembly was a true honour for us and seeing how compassionate and enthused these young activists are was truly inspiring.

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Children in Nature

The Eco-Warrior club is an after school program run by our Xoli Fujani. The club aims to combine leadership training, life skills and environmental education in a way that is engaging and experimental – and is successful. As is demonstrated by this song below, written by students from Harmony Primary School in Lavender Hill who are members of the Eco-Warrior Club. Read more

Young Eco-Activists Nurturing Eco-warriors

Cycle end, and they're still smiling.

Hannah and Emma Lea are cousins in Grade 6 together at the Micklefield Primary School in Rondebosch, Cape Town. As part of their school project, the cousins have chosen to raise funds for our Nurture an Eco-Warrior campaign by selling coffee, raising sponsorship for a challenging cycle, and appealing to friends and family. Read more

8 Ways I Try to Be Environmentally Sustainable: Guest post

Ovidiu Popescu is an Earthchild supporter who is supporting an eco-warrrior for more than a year. He is also the co-founder of Greentumble.com. He asked to share the steps he takes to live a greener life. What steps are you taking? Let us know! 

Environmental sustainability is about making responsible decisions, taking action to conserve and preserve the natural world so it can keep supporting human life.

Thanks to modern day technology and creativity, adopting a green lifestyle has never been easier. Whether you want to support the environment by recycling, carpooling or producing clean energy for your house, everyone in the world can make a difference.

Focusing on a few pro environmental practices over a longer period of time will begin to feel like a habit and that’s when you will be living a sustainable life.

All I’m about to share with you next is what I do in my own life, in order to live as consciously and sustainably as possible.

  1. I installed solar panels and insulated the walls of my house to keep heat longer in the winter time. The switch to solar energy not only reduced my carbon footprint but saves me a lot of money on the electricity bill. It feels good to know that my home runs with clean energy, from our precious Sun.
  2. I walk or bike instead of drive distances less than 2 kilometers. This not only reduces the pollution for the local environment but keeps me healthy.
  3. I bought a reusable water bottle from stainless steel and use tap water with filters after I noticed the pros and cons of bottled water. It saves me money, reduces waste and protects the environment.
  4. By shopping with reusable bags and picking less wasteful plastic packaging I reduced my waste output significantly. However, I find it hard to completely avoid packaging because almost everything in the supermarkets is wrapped in something. Luckily, I have a local market close to me where small and medium sized farmers are selling their products without wrapping.
  5. I spend as much time as possible outdoors because it is healthy, refreshing and it’s through understanding nature that we will want to protect and care for it.
  6. I stopped investing much time and money in technology and the benefits are amazing. My social life improved, I have more money, and I produce less electronic waste.
  7. I decided to support and donate small sums of money to charities and non-profits that promote environmental protection while relying on financial support from people like you and me.
    (* Thank you Ovi for your generous donation, which will support an eco-warrior for more than a year!)
  8. Raising awareness is the first step in helping people realize how important and beneficial sustainability is in their lives. In April 2015, together with some friends and university colleagues we decided to create Greentumble, a blog to share information about environmental topics.

What are you doing to be environmentally sustainable? Which goals are you focusing on?

Little Green Fingers

Over the years we’ve planted many gardens, big and small.  However, theft and vandalism have been a constant challenge and have often left us and the children feeling quite despondent.  That’s until Xoli came up with a great solution – the indoor windowsill herb garden!

Our main aim has always been to give children the experience of planting, caring for and harvesting as a way to deepen their connection and appreciation for nature.  And now, all our Living Classrooms have beautiful basil, mint, sage, parsley and chillies growing in their classrooms, right next to their worm farms.

A few little entrepreneurs have decided the want to make herb bunches to sell to the teachers at the end of the year.

Find out more about what happens in our Living Classrooms

Hiking Club: Catching Tadpoles on Admiral Falls

Our school hiking club from Sakumlandela Primary, Khayelitsha, spent Saturday, 12 September, soaking up the good weather while hiking up towards Admiral Falls. The exhausted themselves climbing rock faces, catching tadpoles and acting out group animals.

The group returned home, happily exhausted, and more than ever connected to the nature, each other and themselves. Thank you to everyone of our supporters who make this possible.

Environmental Video – “I Am Mother Nature”

Mother Nature has been around for over 4.5 billion years, she doesn’t really need people but we need her. This environmental video voices what Mother Nature would say if she could speak. She’s a terrifyingly strong woman, narrated by Julia Roberts, who makes it clear that the need to care for her is not about her own survival but our own.

It’s a little snippet that shows quickly the importance of the environmental issues we face and forms part of a series for Nature is Speaking, narrated by well-known celebrates. For example, Edward Norton is the Soil, speaking of how we treat him like dirt and how he is broken, while Kevin Spacey is the Rainforest.

Environmental education is often so theoretical that children and students struggle to grasp its immediate and practical implications. In particular, at Earthchild Project, our children live in communities where nature is scarce, without trees or grass or plants. It can make environmental education difficult, as how do you care for something you know so little about. We found that creating gardens and worm farming through our Living Classrooms, and hiking were good ways to connect our children with the environment.

By joining hikes, our Earthchildren often are exposed to forests, clear rivers and mountain tops, for the first time in their lives. The impact is self-evident in the faces of the children who join the hikes…

This series of videos are good at addressing this problem, by personifying the environment. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

From Harvest to Salad: Eco-Warriors, Harmony Primary

Our Eco-Warriors at Harmony Primary in Lavender Hill, Cape Flats, earlier this year got their hands dirty planting a container garden at their school. Not only has the garden transformed the space into a green and vital area, they recently enjoyed fruit (vegetables?) of their labor.

Take a look at the photo gallery below, which shows them harvesting and then transforming their harvest into a delicious salad…

Annual Eco-Warrior’s Camp: Harmony Primary

The grade 4 – 6 Eco-warriors extramural club at Harmony Primary escaped to Portberg at De Hoop Nature Reserve, for their annual camp from May 8 to 10.

Thanks to the support of people like you, our Earthchildren got to enjoy 3 days connecting with nature, coming up close with an octopus, dung beetles and a baboon. The baboon took to stealing the camp’s bread and apples.

The De Hoop Nature Reserve is located close to Cape Agulhas and is a world heritage site with protected land and marine areas.

Take a look at the photos of the weekend below…

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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