“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela, South African Hero

We are excited to be starting new relationships with different schools around us in Hoedspruit, starting with the school that our junior carer, Khensani attended many moons ago… Mpisi Primary School. Khensani has been leading the way as we build a partnership with the school to join forces and work together in exciting ways that further our dreams to share elephant conservation awareness and sustainability tools and knowledge.

Juan, our HERD project manager, adds his sustainability and environment knowledge to Khensani’s community engagement and the assistance of conservation students working with us in the reserve to scout the way forward… This new path started with an initial visit to the school recently and a warm welcome from the School Principal, Never Nthane.

We were introduced to the Vice Principal and the team currently responsible for the school’s community garden so that we could discover more about the ways we can work together to grow and develop their gardens and premises in sustainable ways.

Currently the school has roughly 800 learners from Grade R – Grade 4, while the high school, with Grades 5 – 7, has 1 400 learners.

Many of the projects we are looking at starting at the school will go a long way in teaching students smart and fun ways to contribute to recycling, sustainable food production and elephant conservation, with ideas, information and practical knowledge that they can take home with them and practice, so to continue developing good green habits that can have a positive impact on their lives and families.

Some new project possibilities we are looking to start at the school:

Waterwise Gardens: There is plenty of room for waterwise gardens. And we hope to move from temporary structures to more permanent structures in the school grounds, where the gardens can really take shape and develop. We hope to start with numerous spekboom and possibly other plant cuttings which we can share, growing in recycled tins, as these are easy to grow, carbon-friendly and can provide valuable environmental education and create new habits that can be replicated in kids’ homes.

Community Vegetable Garden: There are existing vegetable gardens that are used to feed the school children during lunch times. Currently they grow tomatoes, beetroot, spinach, and cabbage. There is an opportunity to expand and add more crops. There is no pest control and insects tend to damage the harvest – so this will be a point we will approach and combat and share techniques for eco-friendly pest control.

Recycling: The school has plenty of metal cans and tins that they have collected. They can start to recycle this through a local scrap metal company to possibly gain an extra income. We are looking into the possibility of setting up a recycling station to assist the school too.

Rain Harvesting: The school makes use of a borehole for water supply but we are looking into also using the new building at the school’s roof to harvest rainwater for use in the vegetable garden.

Elephant Art: We are starting to work with Grade R – Grade 4 – with a fun Elephant Art project for the younger students and an environmental education programme with different activities to fit into the existing curriculum for the older grades.

We have some stock already for this project, including crayons, colouring pencils, and paint, but we are appealing to Jabulani guests to consider packing school supplies through the Pack For A Purpose campaign to help fill the gaps and make the project a great success for all the children.

We will share more about the Elephant Art project as it continues and the kids start creating their ele-inspired artwork!

Library: The school is building a library but they do not have many books. The books they are looking at stocking the library with include story books suitable for learners from Grade R – Grade 7. We are looking to help them acquire new books by collecting unwanted books and taking donations.

Computer Room: The school are keen to start a computer room but currently have no computers. This will go a far way in helping the learners access the digital opportunities that computers open and teach them new skills that will help them in their studies and research. We are looking for donors to help with this goal.

If you would like to get involved in our HERD community work, please feel free to contact us: fundraising@herd.org.za

“Education is not just about going to school and getting a degree. It’s about widening your knowledge and absorbing the truth about life.” – Shakuntala Devi