The day’s activities started at about four-thirty in the morning, making sure that all arrangements were perfect. Group size, ratios of volunteers to kids, exact activity timing (including the time necessary to move between groups), supporting logistics etc. were all analysed given expected volunteer numbers, final sponsorship and the number of kids expected. Needless to say, all of these plans flew straight through the stratosphere even before any activities had started.
Due to circumstance, about 20 kids had arrived at the centre, most of which were very young and were there to play on the jumping castle and have their faces painted - activities that were organised by another group of volunteers that had planned to work in parallel to us. About 40 volunteers had also arrived which meant that we had a ratio of about 4 volunteers to one child – excessive perhaps? Quick thinking by a few volunteers saw the team disappearing into Mamelodi to ‘recruit’ kids for the day. Within a short time it was decided to start the reptile demonstration as about 60 kids had arrived.
Gerhardt, the snake guy and his son Ishtan, did an awesome job of introducing the kids to the wonders of herpetology – the study of reptiles. Starting with spiders and scorpions, the kids were told what to be aware of and were also given the opportunity to touch tarantulas – judging by the tentative fingers and a few nervous giggles, this was a seriously exciting opportunity. The kids were then introduced to some of the harmless snakes that occur naturally in the area and once again there was an opportunity to touch and examine these wonderful reptiles up close and personal. Next came the venomous snakes and once again Gerhardt was very professional and offered the kids a great opportunity to see what these snakes look like close up – although, not that personal. A Puffadder, a Rinkals and a Cobra were all exhibited to the kids and all in all, the kids LOVED the presentation; I have no doubt that memories were created that will last a lifetime.
Activities planned for the rest of the day focussed on a combination of fun, learning and a focus on the environment. From making bird feeders to throwing and catching balloons, to walking with gumboots filled with water to making arboretums (converting coke bottles into mini-gardens) among other activities, everybody had a great morning – initially we had planned for about 90 kids, by the time the activities were rocking about 170 kids were participating (including about 20 ‘littlies’ that had joined the fray after the jumping castle had closed) and judging by the laughter, singing, dancing and commitment to the activities, our objectives were fulfilled.
Notwithstanding the intensity and commitment to the activities, everybody contributed to the picking up of litter and it was commented that the area has NEVER been cleaner –
IN EXCESS OF 25 BAGS OF LITTER WERE PICKED UP.
Integral to the success of the morning was the commitment that every volunteer brought to the event. The passion, commitment and energy of the volunteer group was almost palpable. Volunteers worked tirelessly in the sauna like marquee, led the group in singing and dancing, demanded teamwork, looked after the littlies, and generally contributed to the experience that everybody had.
In summary, plans were laid for about 90 kids, we started with 20 and ended with about 170 kids. The objectives for the day and included having fun, creating an awareness of the environment and to create memories among others and without a question of doubt, these objectives were achieved.
Thank you to Pick ‘n Pay Faerie Glen who sponsored the prizes and colddrink and Rotary Pretoria East who supplied the potting soil and biscuits and who invited SOAPkidz to partake in the Berakah foundation project day.
From Berakah’s newsletter – a piece by Avril
This last Saturday the 3rd March we were privileged to have a group called SOAPkidz (Sunrise on Africa’s Peaks), which is an organisation that concentrates on teaching children on environmental issues. Together with a group of about 25 volunteers they spent the morning educating our children on reptiles (snakes, spiders, scorpions and lizards specifically), playing games, collecting litter and making some interesting goodies to take home.
After the reptile lesson the kids broke up into groups and played some games with the emphasis on team work. They also took part in making bird feeders out of cones with peanut butter and bird seed, and a soap ball to take home.
With the gum boot game, the kids had to fill the gumboots with water, walk to the other side and fill up a bucket with the water left in the boots. The team to fill the bucket first is the winner. I tell you this is easier said than done.
The kids had an absolute ball on Saturday with all the different activities that they were involved in. To Karen from SOAPkidz and her team of volunteers, a huge thank you for making this day so much fun for our kids and for bringing some sunshine into lives of these children who sometimes live in very difficult circumstances.