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.
What is the role of Earthchild Project in your life? The way I live my life is different, the way I look at situations, and the way I treat people is different since I’ve joined the ECP. I know the Earthchild Project is all about the earth and everything but they also teach us about You, about how you can handle life problems and how you can respond to different situations. For example, whenever you feel stressed or whenever you’re nervous or anything like that, just take a deep breath in and just close your eyes and relax as much as you can and that works. I was writing my exams during the past few weeks and I’ve tried it and I’m using it every day, or almost every day. I think the role of Eartchild in my life has been wonderful and it has made me a better person. I feel like I’m still growing and I can become a much better person to others as well.
How has ECP affected you who you are today? I started being with Earthchild when I was in grade two, I’ve been with them all these years and I don’t see myself moving away from Earthchild because I feel like they’re my second home. Whenever I need something, Sis Noks [Schools Programme Coordinator in Khayelitsha] is only a phone call away, she says that to me. So I feel they are part of my life already so there is no chance now that I would cut them out. They will always be there and I feel that other people can see that too. Other kids that are younger can also join in and see that being with Earthchild is an investment in your life. Because the connections you make now, you’ll never know where they might lead you.
Which programs have you been part of since you joined the Earthchild Project? It’s a long list, when I had the time I was involved with the garden club, yoga, hiking, young women’ group, and storytelling.
Have you passed on what you have learnt through Earthchild Project to your friends and family? My parents want to have a garden in the Eastern Cape so I said that we can have a container garden. You don’t have to have a big plot. Whenever there is an outing with my friends, I tell them I won’t be able to go with them on this day because I’m busy with the kids. They find it interesting. Some of them want to join but they live too far away. That’s the problem.
People that are close to me know that my second home is Earthchild. Whenever I say “guys I’m going with ECP” they’ll be like “ah, Earthchild Project” so I don’t have to say the whole name to them.
How does yoga make you feel? I didn’t like yoga when I started it so I complained to Sis Noks about period pains and said I could not do yoga. But then she said there are positions in yoga that can help with period pain so I do them whenever I have period pains. Whenever I feel tired or whenever I feel I want to connect with my body, I’ll do yoga and then I do meditation. I feel that meditation is where I can run away from all the problems I have. When I’m done with meditation I feel really calm and at peace. So I don’t do yoga every day but it does help me with my everyday life.
What is your relationship with nature? I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t like nature. I didn’t like insects and all those things. But then Sis Noks told us that we should never kill insects. Whenever you see a fly or an ant or whatever, you should never kill it because they’re like us. They’re a part of us. Now I look at nature in a different way. I feel I have a connection with nature. Whenever I am in nature, for example in a park, I feel at peace when the wind blows, I feel at peace with the leaves, the air, and the scent of the flowers.
What are your future plans? I have many. So the basic ones are to finish school, go to university and do computer sciences. When I’m done I want to work. Whilst I’m working I want to do community service which is obviously being with Earthchild Project. Then I want to get married, and if I don’t get married, I’ll adopt kids.
After the interview, we hugged and wished each other good luck for the future. I feel so blessed to meet people like Sonwabile and hear their stories. This young woman spreads so much warmth and wisdom around her and you should all see her with the kids! She works hard and she has a beautiful soul that will take her far. Sonwabile, you are the future.
This was our very last Earthchild Spotlight! Stay connected <3
Interview by Amanda Norrlander, Intern.