Once more SOAPkidz held its annual Environmental Education Day on Saturday 11th September - this year moving further along Moreletaspruit to Mamelodi. Partnering with Walter Sisulu environmental centre for this years event, activities were held in the grounds of Walter Sisulu environmental centre and the adjacent parkland surrounding the spruit.
As usual, the day started bright and early, packing crates of food and essential supplies into various bakkies and cars before driving out to Mamelodi. Fortunately for the many volunteers unfamiliar with the area the event was held over the road from the Hospital so this year nobody got seriously lost (a first!). A special thanks to the volunteers who travelled all the way from Jo’burg to assist.
My first discovery of the day was that the lettering I had made to stick on the banner was WAY too big! I had been worrying that preparations for the day were just going too smoothly so this eased my concern. Visitors were thus greeted by a banner saying EnvironFun Mental Day (“Education” didn’t have a chance of fitting in!). After finding that I had also failed to pack extra nametags, and had put a completely flat battery in SOAPkidz founder Karen Hauptfleisch’s camera some of the concern was returning. But very soon I was too busy with my eager team, Tatani B aka Panther Stars, for thoughts of such minor hurdles to intrude. I had quietly “borrowed” Karen’s inflatable Pink Panther as team mascot. After registration and receiving our litter bags, rake, paperwork we found a quiet spot (well as quiet as you can get when surrounded by about 190 kids and helpers) on the lawn to eat breakfast and discuss our War Cry; this turned into an impromptu song and dance session with nothing warlike about it but lots of fun.
After group photos we all went to the auditorium to hear the program for the day and listen to inspirational speakers from Walter Sisulu environmental Centre, Love Life and SOAPkidz. The message: each child is a unique and special individual living in an amazing world. There is a saying: “Feel the love”; here you really could. Every child deserves love, respect and attention as does the environment of this wonderful country we live in.
The teams were divided in two; one section to start the litter pickup along Moreletaspruit, the others to participate in a variety of fun and informative activities and games in the centre grounds. At 11am we would swap tasks. Team 8 aka Tatani B aka Panther Stars started with the activities and games. We learnt about separating litter, recycling, medicinal plants, water conservation and pollution of streams – all in a fun, thought provoking series practical down-to-earth demonstrations and games.
At 11am we started collecting litter and there was LOTS! I have assisted in previous environmental days along Moreletaspruit but this was by far the most polluted section I have been to. I think you could have an Environmental Week and still not finish removing all the rubbish. So we were kept busy until lunch. The mountain of filled bags beside the truck grew and grew until 375 bags were collected. Some of the more intrepid kids in my team accompanied me through the tunnel and we collected masses of litter from the spruit. They really thought I was crazy paddling through the filthy water collecting bottles, bags thrown from the bridge and the odd discarded gumboot.
Lunch was a feast, everyone was tired and very hungry so it disappeared in record time. After a photo with everyone in front of the now very full rubbish truck it was time for song, dance and war cries. Each team tried to outdo the others in creative singing, super dance moves and volume. A good time was had by all. When I had to join the Panther Stars performance I discovered that my sense of rhythm and flat singing has not improved over time but the kids were fantastic!
Then it was time for Manzi to put across the Water Wise message. Fun, music, dancing and laughter followed – all with a strong message about water conservation. For many of the children this was the highlight of the day. Then it was prize giving and each child was given a certificate and group photo.
This is the fifth year of environmental awareness days along Moreletaspruit and was once again a resounding success. Goodbyes were said and volunteers and children left for their homes; tired, dirty but happy.
"I enjoy to meet other people, Nice food, By cleaning our environment, By meeting other friends and Playing with other children"
"Tateni, I eenjoy playing with other people and I Like this event I wesi I can jon you are gein"
"I enjoy being with my friends, having lots of food, learning about nature and getting to know other people like Anmare."
"Teaching kids about conserving nature, Being able to laugh and joke, Being able to see how everyone is enjoying themselves, Being able to spend time out in the sun in Beautiful Africa