EARTHCHILD PROJECT AMBASSADOR SPOTLIGHT – SCHALK VILJOEN

Over the years, there have been a number of really special yoga teachers who have dedicated a lot of time and energy into supporting Earthchild Project and being a driving force behind the work that we do. In order to honour these people, we have initiated an Earthchild Project Ambassador Programme. And we are proud to introduce you to our first ambassador, Schalk Viljoen. Schalk teaches Jivamukti classes in the Darmstadt, Mainz, Frankfurt & Basel area of Germany. We caught up with Schalk to find out more about his yoga journey and why he cares so much about Earthchild Project.

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“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.

Welcome to the team, Etienne!

Sharing environmental knowledge and stimulating awareness about, and care for, nature are core aspects of Earthchild Project’s practices. But finding the right people for this job can often be a challenge. The children need someone to look up to, someone interesting to learn from and someone willing to be with them every day and share their love for nature. In this light, we would like to welcome Etienne Basson, Earthchild’s newest team member

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Earthchild Project 10 Year Anniversary Celebration

“It’s hard to believe that this time 10 years ago the very first seeds of Earthchild Project began to sprout. Three young ladies with a big idea and lots of energy and passion started out in two Cape Town schools. It’s been quite a journey with many lessons, challenges, highlights, connections and growth… and a journey full of the gift of working with thousands of very special children. This journey would not have been possible without YOUR support and the incredible ‘eco-system’ of relationships that have developed over the years. We would like to say a very big THANK YOU to our donors, partners, teachers, schools and volunteers… it has been a privilege working with you all and we are deeply grateful for your ongoing love and support.”

– Janna Kretzmar, Founder and Director, Earthchild Project

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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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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

Carla Thiele

Communications Manager

I was born in Munich, Germany and lived there until my parents immigrated to Cape Town when I was five years old.  This became my home where I grew up amongst smiling faces and the hot South African sun.

After completing my degree in Integrated Marketing Communication at the AAA School of Advertising , I worked in Advertising for two and a half years. Though I always had dedicated clients I was assigned to, I volunteered to work additionally on the pro-bono client base of NGO’s that were working towards social change and social investment in South Africa. This quickly awakened the humanitarian within me and soon made me realize that my future was not to be in a corporate environment.

I am extremely grateful to be a part of the Earthchild Project team; to witness the positive impact and transformation the project has had on so many children and will continue to have for generations to come.

Nokuphiwo Jada

Schools’ Programme Coordinator

I was born in the Eastern Cape but grew up in Cape Town where I lived in Khayelitsha. I attended school at Sobambisana Primary, which is just a block away from Sakumlandela Primary where I am currently working as an Earthchild coordinator. After completing my matric, I studied drama, music and dance.

I was privileged to be able to start my own group with 60 kids in my community, teaching them drama music and dance. They were all from Khayelitsha. I worked as a freelance actress and musician and performed around South Africa. However, I was drawn back to my other passion of working with youth in my community.

I was an active member in my community and became part of the Khayelitsha Youth Development Forum. I served as an additional member of the committee. That’s when I got an opportunity to join the Art of Living where I was introduced to yoga and meditation for the first time.

After a dramatic change in my life through the Art of Living courses, I couldn’t hold my breath and I started organising courses in my community. This experience led me to join the Earthchild Project team.

I am now working as a Schools’ Programme coordinator in Khayelitsha. I also facilitate the Living Classroom programme, teach children yoga and run the Arts & Crafts Clubs as well as help coordinate the Teachers’ Retreats.

Linci Abrahams

Schools’ Programme Coordinator

I was born and raised in Cape Town where I completed my schooling and then decided that I wanted to study in the field of Psychology and development.

I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology at the University of the Western Cape. After working for a few years I returned to complete my Honours Degree in Development Studies whilst working at a Non-Profit Organization in the Cape Flats area. Besides my interest in Psychology, I was very passionate about working with children and youth in the Cape Flats. I continued on the path of development which led me to the Earthchild Project. I am grateful for the opportunity to soulfully educate and uplift children with love and support, bringing energy and life into the school and the greater community.

Through my involvement with Earthchild Project, I began to take a journey which led to a deepening of my holistic and spiritual understanding of life, love, people and myself. I am passionate about nurturing our children and our planet through teaching healthy living, loving others and taking care of our environment. I believe that each child has infinite potential and they need our support to be the best that they can be.

My role in the Earthchild Project is to coordinate the Schools’ Programme in the Greater Retreat area as well as to support and manage the volunteers.

Janna Kretzmar

Director

I was born on a farm outside of Kimberley but moved to Cape Town at the age of five and have lived here ever since. After completing a degree in Social Anthropology and Psychology at the University of Cape Town, I moved on to the best university of life – travelling. I have worked, travelled and lived abroad for two years, experiencing new cultures, new ideas and new ways of life.

I have always loved working with children – feeling a bit like a big earthchild myself. I worked as a summer camp councilor for five years both in South Africa and North America, and for one year I was a part time volunteer teacher at a school for street children in Cape Town.

I am a qualified yoga teacher and am on my own personal journey to incorporate the knowledge of yoga into my life. Through practicing yoga and meditation, and aspiring to live a more healthy and balanced life; through living with more awareness and doing service work… I try to life what we are teaching and am inspired by the infinite opportunities for growth and abundance that life offers.

I feel very blessed to be a part of the Earthchild Project. It has been a real adventure which has introduced me to many inspiring people. But really it’s the amazing children at our schools for whom I am most grateful – grateful to have the privilege of supporting their journey to becoming a new generation of Earthchildren.

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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