Meet Jemima

Jemima is in Grade 4 in Lavender Hill and has been doing yoga with @claumiclaums21 for over a year now. She shares what she loves about yoga and Earthchild Project with us!

“Yoga has taught me to always relax when you are doing something hard and to focus on your best, which is why I want to be a yoga teacher one day and teach other children yoga.

I never did yoga before so when I started I didn’t know what we were doing in that class and also when I started doing yoga I realised that it started making me feel calm when I was angry. Yoga teaches me to always calm down when you are doing something hard. When my mommy is shouting at me and I’m getting very angry, I must just calm down and do some yoga.

I especially love when we get apples after yoga. Then even the naughty children are quiet. It’s a good thing to be an Earthchild and to teach other children yoga. If they are having a bad day they can just do yoga to make their day better. 

I want to say to people that if you are going through a lot right now, just do yoga and feel better.”

Wise advice from this young yogi!

JANNA KRETZMAR WINS THE SANTAM WOMEN OF THE FUTURE SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR AWARD 2022

Earthchild Project is thrilled to share that our Founding Director, Janna Kretzmar, has been named the 2022 Santam Women of the Future Social Entrepreneur – in association with FAIRLADY and TRUELOVE Magazines. This prestigious achievement is awarded to an entrepreneur who is making a real difference in her community – a well-deserved title considering the years of dedicated hard work that Janna has put into nurturing a team who strives to create lasting change in the lives of our children in Khayelitsha and Lavender Hill. 


The exclusive awards event which was emceed by South African model, public speaker and businesswoman, Jo-Ann Strauss, was held on Friday 14 October 2022 at The Venue Green Park in Morningside. Guests in attendance at the luncheon included businesswomen and media personalities such as Miss South Africa 2022 Ndavi Nokeri, Johanna Makgalemele, Uyanda Mbuli, Sonia Booth, Jena Dover, Catherine Constantinides, Miss Earth SA 2022 Ziphozethu Sithebe, investment specialist Anthea Gardner and TV and radio personality, Zuraida Jardine. 

The three winners were selected from a shortlist of nine finalists by a distinguished panel of judges: Professor Thuli Madonsela, Chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University and founder of the Social Justice M-Plan and Thuma Foundation; Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, CEO of Naspers South Africa; Dawn Nathan-Jones, entrepreneur and CEO of Over the Rainbow; Enid Lizamore, Executive Head of Human Resources at Santam; Suzy Brokensha, FAIRLADY editor-in-chief; and TRUELOVE editor-in-chief Makhosazana ‘Khosi’ Zwane-Siguqa.

Winners in the other categories include;

  • Monalisa Sibongile Zwambila of The Riverbed Agency who was named the 2022 Santam Woman of the Future.
  • Amahle Ntshinga of Luntu who was named the 2022 Santam Rising Star.
  • Zanele Ngcobo of BNK Solar who was named the 2022 Santam Readers’ Choice.

Santam’s many years of supporting women in business in South Africa have given the company valuable insight into the potential pitfalls of the entrepreneurial journey. Santam understands that the first 1 000 days of running a business are the hardest – if you’re still in business by day 1 001, they believe you’re in it for the long haul! 

Janna founded Earthchild Project in 2007 with the dream of nurturing a new generation of conscious and empowered young leaders. She continues to lead our team with integrity and passion and we are so very proud of her and the difference that she makes in our communities.

Janna said, “I have been overwhelmed by the influx of messages and positivity that have come with winning this award!  After 16 years of giving my all to Earthchild Project, it has been incredibly meaningful to be recognised in this way.  Not only for myself, but for my amazing team, our beneficiaries and supporters, this award has been so affirming.  A massive thank you to Santam and the panel of judges!”

Winning the Santam Social Entrepreneur Award will allow Earthchild Project to continue to expand our reach, and we are excited to explore how we can grow from this achievement. Earthchild Project shares congratulations with the other deserving winners. Read more about Janna and the other winners and their businesses in the latest issue of FAIRLADY magazine, on sale from Friday, 21 October 2022.  

Meet Noelene

Noeline is a chatty, kind-hearted young girl who wants to travel the world and inspire people to protect our planet. She believes kindness is key and being kind to people and the planet is what makes her happy – along with her weekly yoga with Earthchild Project.

“Being on my mat makes me feel comfortable and relaxed. I love that you can relax, sit and talk and I love stretching myself out so that I can get rid of all that stress in my head. I feel like yoga is a quiet place I can be at where I can express my feelings. At home when I have problems and too much stuff to do like chores and stress – when I’m in yoga I forget all that and I just calm down. And then I believe I can achieve my dreams. 

The world is a beautiful place. Sometimes people may ruin it, but it’s still beautiful to me. I believe people must stop polluting the oceans and stop treating animals badly. I care about animals very much. My favourite animal is a cheetah because cheetahs look kind. If a cheetah was a person, it would care about other people. I love being kind because it’s much easier than being mean.”

#ecpstories#ecp#childrenofecp#earthchildproject#earthchildstories#earthchild#nonprofitstories#beneficiary#nonprofitbeneficiary#npo#nonprofitcapetown#southafricanstories#charity#nonprofit#community#nonprofitorganization#giveback#love#education#socialgood#dogood#givingback#philanthropy#change#makeadifference#children#hope#instagood#donations#volunteering

Zoe’s Story

Zoe is a 10 year old enthusiastic and confident little yogi in our Yoga Extra Mural Club with Claumi in Lavender Hill. With quiet confidence, she shares her yoga journey with Earthchild Project, and what makes yoga special for her.

“Yoga makes me cool when I am angry and yoga makes me calm down.

I really like being with Claumi. She’s always kind to me. The first time I went to yoga I was really nervous and she was the first person to talk to me and tell me I don’t need to be nervous.  

I never knew what was yoga. But when I started I went home to my mommy and said, ‘Ooh I want to learn yoga.’ Sometimes I do yoga at home with my mommy. I’ve been doing it since I was in Grade 3 so I know it now. 

Sometimes when I’m with my friends I always calm down, but sometimes with other children I don’t know – I’m nervous because I don’t know if they will be my friends and I’m really shy. But now I breathe and I know to stay calm. Earthchild Project taught me to do so.

The mountain pose is special for me. I like the mountain pose because it makes me stand straight and then I can balance straighlty. Then I don’t think of anything else, I just think about what I’m doing. It’s like that for life, also.”

Our new classroom at Hillwood Primary in Lavender Hill

It was with great pride and joy that we finally launched our beautiful, peaceful classroom space at Hillwood Primary School in Lavender Hill on 4 August 2022, with guests from our incredible sponsors – Truworths and Earthchild Clothing – as well as teachers, the Hillwood Primary School Principal, Mr Alkana, and of course our little yogis who will be using the space the most. Earthchild Project has been working in Hillwood Primary School for over 10 years, with the ongoing obstacle of not having our own space from which to teach our Programmes.

Lavender Hill is a community with particular safety challenges, creating the need for a peaceful, positive space where children and teachers can feel safe. Our new classroom will provide a safe space where thousands of children will have access to daily yoga and life skills lessons, as well as extra murals, teachers workshops, and holiday programmes.

“When learners are being taken to the yoga room, it’s like taking them away from what’s happening in Lavender Hill. It’s like allowing them to be a child.” Mr Alkana

We are deeply grateful to our sponsors from Truworths and Earthchild Clothing, as well as everyone who assisted in the planning and building of the school which took many dedicated years. This classroom has already proved to be an invaluable addition to our Project at Hillwood Primary and we would love by the end of 2023 for all of our 8 schools to have classrooms. To support us in building these sanctuaries, donate here: https://www.givengain.co/cc/earthchi…

MEET KUHLE

“Yoga helps me to not feel sad. It makes me feel happy and safe. It helps me when I struggle and it helps me focus.”

Kuhle is in Grade 5 at one of our schools in Khayelitsha, and is part of the Earthchild Project Yoga Programme with our yoga facilitator, Anathi. We asked Kuhle a few questions about being a yogi and an Earthchild.

⭐What do you love to do the most in your yoga classes with Anathi? 
“I do yoga and the yoga pledge and some exercises. In yoga I felt free and I had peace, I could feel it. Doing a vision board helps me feel better and Earthchild Project helps me to know who I am.”

⭐How do you feel when you come into your yoga class?
“I feel happy because Ms Anathi does not shout at me when I do things wrong, she just explains it to me and shows me.”

⭐What else does Earthchild Project teach you, besides yoga?
“It teaches me I must eat healthy and not do wrong things to my friends and have respect and do the exercises. I learn to not drink and not smoke because it will damage my body.”

Kuhle also loves going on Earthchild Project outings with Anathi, where she learns about animals and the environment. One of her favourite things to do is practice yoga at home with her twin brother.

📸 @deborahpamelarossouw
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#ecpstories#ecp#childrenofecp#earthchildproject#earthchildstories#earthchild#nonprofitstories#beneficiary#nonprofitbeneficiary#npo#nonprofitcapetown#southafricanstories#charity#nonprofit#community#nonprofitorganization#giveback#love#education#socialgood#dogood#givingback#philanthropy#change#makeadifference#children#hope#instagood#donations#volunteering

Meet Zakhe

“Athi inspires me because he is more like a father. He always encourages me to do something. When I feel down, he asks me what I am doing about it and then we make a plan to just go and feel happy by hiking in the mountains.”

Since Grade 5, Zakhe has been one of the shining stars of the Earthchild Project Eco Explorers Club with @athikhulu. Zakhe is going to high school next year, and is certain that he wants to continue adventuring with our Eco Explorers. When asked if he has made friends in the Club, he says that since joining, he has gained so much confidence when making friends; “All of them are my friends. Especially the volunteers. I can speak to any of them, anyone in the group.”

He said he’s hiked so many mountains with Earthchild Project that he can’t remember all the names of the trails! Besides being given the opportunity to explore many of Cape Towns mountains and forests, Zakhe says that Earthchild Project has also inspred him to take care of his garden and dogs and cats at home. He even has his own operating worm farm at home!

His favourite thing about the Club? “What I like about the hiking club is that it always supports others to hike more and to inspire other people to push each other harder to climb the mountain. And what I like about ECP is that its people who keep inspiring children to do more and more and achieve their dreams.”

@deborahpamelarossouw

Earthchild Alumni – Caitlin

“Where you come from doesn’t always define where you are going to be one day. You don’t have to be where you come from.”

Caitlin is 16 years old in Grade 12 at one of our schools in Lavender Hill. She is part of the Earthchild Project Alumni Programme and has been a part of ECP since she was in Grade 6. Read on for Caitlin’s personal experience of her journey with Earthchild Project.
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“This is sadly my last year since I am in matric this year. When I started I was in Ms Robertson’s class – they still have the worm farm now! Everyone was interacting with each other…it made me feel really comfortable and I wasn’t panicked and I’ve really enjoyed it from Grade 6 until now. It’s taught me how to be more confident, and also leadership skills. At school I’m a prefect, so that’s really helped. I’m more confident with my orals in class, as well as communication skills. I can communicate without being totally shy like my normal self.”
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“I live in a community where most people either do drugs or fall pregnant like a few girls in our road was pregnant a while ago. There’s always just negative things that people try and do, but for me I’ve never really felt like that’s what I should do. Like we were all friends when we were younger, but they went off to do their own thing. ECP really gave me something to do instead of falling into that bad stuff like everybody else.
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For me, if you represent ECP you have to be kind to people because it teaches you all about being kind, helping others, keeping the environment safe. Instead of adding what’s wrong to the world, why don’t you try and better it for the next generation?
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If I didn’t become one of the ECP children I wouldn’t have learned leadership skills or how to better myself. It’s given me the sense of talking out and speaking my mind and giving me the motivation to do so.”

Earthchild Eco Warrior Mikhulu

“Earthchild Project teaches us to be kind to the environment, kind to our bodies, and kind and courteous to others. Honey catches more flies than vinegar.”

Mikhulu is in Grade 5 at one of our school’s in Khayelitsha, and is part of the Earthchild Project Eco Warriors Club with our environmental facilitator, Liya.

When Mikhulu attended his first Eco Warrior Club, he felt a little shy and nervous, but he wanted to be the best student in the Club which inspired him to participate and to learn! Now, he says that he has butterflies tickling his stomach whenever he has his Eco warriors Extra Mural.

He loves that ECP is so much more than just learning about animals and saving water, but that it’s also about connecting and having fun! His inquiring mind makes him eager to boost his knowledge about science and the world, so that he can make a difference one day – and he believes that ECP will help him to achieve this.


Mikhulu’s main inspiration from his Eco Warriors Club with ECP is to teach other young boys like himself to be kinder to the planet.

How can we address the next pandemic: children’s mental health?

The restrictive nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to an ongoing global epidemic in children’s mental health. Very high levels of anxiety and stress in children need to be addressed now to avoid more serious long-term impacts in our futures. Using scalable digital resources to support children’s psychological well-being is part of the solution – and to mark World Mental Health Day, we are releasing free meditation audio tracks for children across South Africa.

Deaths, economic and housing instability and disruptions  to school routines are just some of the destabilizing aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic for children. Such impacts will, experts warn,  result in society ‘grappling with the after-effects for decades to come.’ Research by child psychiatry experts has found that children – especially those in economically underprivileged contexts – are suffering very high levels of uncertainty, stress and anxiety due to lockdowns and quarantines. The research points to an urgent need for mental health services – specifically ‘tele mental health,’ provided in scalable, digital formats –  which would be particularly crucial for the ‘most vulnerable and underprivileged section of the society’. In line with this, and to mark World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2021, The Earthchild Project will be releasing a series of free guided audio meditations for children, called  Take Five. Through these specially-created meditations – in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa – we hope to encourage the decisive and large-scale action needed to transform the lives of our youngest generation.

The pandemic and child mental health in South Africa

Earlier this year, UNICEF stated that the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be most damaging for ‘children in the poorest countries, and in the poorest neighbourhoods.’ This is serious for a developing economy like South Africa. Indeed, research found  that 72% of young people in South Africa reported depressive symptoms during the ‘hard lockdown’ – a figure that is drastically higher than pre-pandemic levels. 

It is of critical importance that these symptoms are addressed now. Children who  experience trauma or stress are at risk of suffering lifelong mental health challenges later in life if the issues are not addressed  early on. 

Reality on the ground: Lavender Hill and Khayelitsha 

The Earthchild Project, which runs complimentary education to under-resourced schools across Cape Town,  has experienced this devastation on the ground.  Our staff have witnessed a marked increase in trauma and stress levels of the children in our programmes since the start of the pandemic. 

In Khayelitsha and Lavender Hill schools – where we have run programmes for 15 years –  the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic has heightened the vulnerability factors for children who already witness high levels of gang violence and other trauma. 

“In our current situation with the gang violence as a principal you need to think on your toes, so when there’s shooting, I breathe because I need to be the person that’s responsible for teachers. Our children know that they need to breathe and they need to stay calm and those are all the skills that we acquire from Earthchild.” Ms Charity – Principal at Levana Primary School.

We have measured the impact of routine meditation practises for children in these schools. It has proved to be a very simple and effective tool to help them to deal with anxiety, fear and trauma.

Every little helps: three meditations

Because these are economically underprivileged communities with limited infrastructure and access to the internet, there is a great need for low-cost resources that are able to close the digital divide, allowing equity of access for all children.

Schools and other NGOs in the education sector have expressed a desperate need for resources to support their learners with trauma, anxiety and fear.  In response to this, the Take5 Meditations are a series of three simple, guided audio meditations in three of South Africa’s local languages – Afrikaans, English and Xhosa. Each meditation can work in a group setting – meaning that teachers can conduct them in a classroom – or in an individual setting. Any child can practice them at home, at any time. They are free, and can easily be sent by WhatsApp or listened to on Youtube. 

Our hope is that the Take5 meditations will be used nationally and globally as a meaningful resource to counter the mental health challenges brought about by COVID-19. These tracks must form part of a wider spectrum of resources to support the mental health of our youngest generations – for the prospects of today’s youth, as well our collective global development. 

To access the Take5 Meditation, and the instruction audio track, see details. The audio tracks can be accessed through the Earthchild Project website www.earthchildproject.org , YouTube https://www.youtube.com/c/earthchildproject, and through a direct request via Whatsapp on +27 79 865 0002. The audio meditations are downloaded along with an instruction video on how to facilitate the Take 5 meditations.

andreamuehleck.com

Jadene – A world of endless possibilities with Earthchild Project

Everyone who has met her will recognise her infectious smile. Jadene started Yoga and Worm Farming with Earthchild Project when she was 10 years old and in Grade 4 in Lavender Hill. After completing the Alumni and Internship Programmes, she is now a full time yoga facilitator with ECP.

Jadene recalls how she was so excited with the opportunity to join the Alumni Programme when she finished Grade 7 and was inspired to then become an ECP intern because she felt that by continuing with ECP, she could find direction with where she was going in life.

Jadene is passionate about how ECP can help young women to discover their dreams. “In Lavender Hill we don’t have a good reputation. We don’t have the freedom of feeling safe. And so I really do  think it’s important for young females to have good, positive, healthy role models to encourage us and to show us that we have more potential and that we can do more…I think we can make the change in the world…”

As a young facilitator, Jadene wants to encourage other young women to stay strong, to believe in themselves and to know that they have unlimited potential. ECP has opened a new world for Jadene where she can be herself and where she can feel safe…a world of endless possibilities. 

Kuhle – Finding joy through yoga, nature, and surfing

Today we share the story of Kuhle, one of the determined youth whom we are proud to work with. Kuhle is 14 years old and lives in Capricorn Square in Cape Town. He had a tough start to life as a young boy, and grew up with foster parents who neglected him and kept him out of school. Social workers eventually put Kuhle in a new foster home where he is now loved and cared for.

Kuhle finds peace and security through the Earthchild Project Gardening and Yoga Programmes, and he also plays rugby and surfs with @wavesforchange – a brilliant NGO using surfing to create community-owned safe spaces in Africa and beyond. We love how his face lights up when he talks about gardening, yoga and surfing. “Yoga helps me with surfing because it stretches my body and (helps me) balance on my board. Yoga keeps me calm in the water”. “Any opportunity after school, even during school, programmes like planting, yoga, surfing, I will be grateful to do it”.

Kuhle sometimes has flashbacks to sad times in his life, but yoga and surfing have helped him to deal with these emotions. He doesn’t get angry in class anymore and respects his friends and teachers. He still likes to be alone sometimes and enjoys being on his own in the garden, which our Gardening Programme has inspired him to care for and protect. Kuhle wants to finish school and go to college one day, and maybe join the army or the navy, with the dream of buying his mother a house one day. We give hope, safety – and a reason to keep dreaming – to young boys and girls like Kuhle. 📸 @dreamcatcherproductionsza #youthday #youthatrisk #southafrica

ECP Climate Girls – Education is the key to change

Meet the Earthchild Project Climate Girls from Khayelitsha. This group of girls is pure power when it comes to sustainable living, and teaching their peers, families and community members how to live more sustainably, too. Even though these girls are only between the age of 12 and 13 years old, they know that they are responsible to make a positive difference for our planet!

Sadly, the lack of awareness among communities, especially those that reside in rural areas like Khayelitsha, allows people to engage in activities that cause exacerbated environmental problems. We believe that education is crucial in cultivating a desire to protect the planet, which is what our Climate Girls are trying to do in their communities. It is through education, which is the key social strategy for conservation, that people will gain an understanding of the importance to think and act in a conscious, sustainable manner.

“What I love about being in the garden is connect to nature because we live in the township and there’s a lot of noise. But when I’m in the garden I relax myself. I get time to connect with myself and also to connect with nature.”  

If we love nature, we will protect it. Our Climate Girls have a goal of educating their communities on the effects of climate change, and how they can live more sustainably in order to combat their own carbon footprint. They also want to encourage their peers to fall in love with nature, so that they too can act in ways to protect our planet and precious resources. 

Earthchild Project is committed to cultivating a generation of environmentally conscious young leaders, like our Climate Girls, who will in turn encourage their peers and communities to protect the future of our planet for generations to come. 

Beautiful video by @join_thedance and  @justincoomber

#education#climatechange#gretathunberg#climate#climatejustice#savetheplanet#climatecrisis#globalwarming#extinctionrebellion#climateaction#nature#schoolstrike#future#futureleaders#youngleaders#sustainability#environment#climateemergency#klimastreik#climatechangeisreal#zerowaste#fff#klimawandel#actnow

Ms Henricks – A teachers perspective on the benefits of Earthchild Project

Meet Ms Hendricks – one of the dedicated teachers with whom we work. Ms Hendricks teaches Grade 1 at Levana Primary School in Lavender Hill, which is one of the 8 schools in which Earthchild Project operates our programmes. She has welcomed the Earthchild Project facilitators into her class for the past four years, and is inspired by the difference that our programmes make in the lives of her young learners.

“The children that live here and come to school here – they are, you can say, constantly traumatised.” She say’s that due to the challenging environment of Lavender Hill, many children come to school distracted and hungry, often only coming to school for the plate of food provided by the school’s feeding scheme. And so the benefits of opening her class to the ECP facilitators are perfectly clear to her.

Ms Hendricks’ class participates in the ECP Yoga and Worm Farming Programmes. She says that over the years, she has noticed how the yoga lessons help to calm down the children who display behavioural issues, as well as teach them good values such as kindness. She notes how after a yoga class, the children are so much more confident, with a well developed self concept. The ECP facilitators inspire her by reminding the children that they are always beautiful and are always loved, and how we create a safe space for our children to express themselves. An additional positive is how our holistic approach to education improves her children’s academics.

We love working with teachers like Ms Hendricks, who are so warm and welcoming and who truly care about the impact that educators have on the minds and lives of young children, especially youth at risk.

📸@dreamcatcherproductionsza

#lavenderhill#youth#youthatrisk#education#teachers#ecp#earthchildproject#yoga#yogainschools#npo#sponsorachild

Building a bright future in a challenging environment

Faqeer, who lives in Lavender Hill, is 17 years old – the age at which young men are the target of gang recruitment on the Cape Flats, and are at high risk of getting involved in crime and drugs. But not Faqeer, who has bigger dreams.

Faqeer says that a lot of boys his age try to do things to impress their peers, which often leads to joining gangs. “To grow up in Lavender Hill is like a task that you’re going through because there’s a lot of things you get distracted by like gangsterism, drug abuse”. Which is why Faqeer believes that ECP saved his life.

Through participation with Eco Warriors from Grade 4 to Grade 7 and then joining the Alumni Programme, ECP has highlighted for Faqeer his capabilities, and shown him how to overcome his weaknesses while building on his strengths. He says that ECP has always been by his side. He has particularly enjoyed the hikes and camps, as well as building the Levana Primary School Food Garden which was built in 2019 with the help of students participating in Semester at Sea – a transformative #studyabroad programme recruiting students to volunteer around the world.  Faqeer still enjoys spending time in the Levana garden with his friends and believes that ECP has provided him with a safe place, away from violence. A place that can nurture his dreams of becoming a firefighter one day. A place where he can be happy.

Beautiful footage by Dreamcatcher Productions ZA

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