HELPING HAND FOR RINDZANI HIGH SCHOOL
The Headmaster of Rindzani High School is committed to improving the lives of his many impoverished learners. He believes that a good Matric pass is essential to make a tertiary qualification possible, which then creates a secure future for his pupils. In 2005 Rindzani High School won the Most Improved Matric Results Award, an astounding achievement for a school which is in desperate need of books, teaching aids, sporting facilities and funds for general maintenance.
To free the academic staff to concentrate on continually improving teaching methods and to provide extra lessons for the pupils, Elephant Whispers has planted a vegetable garden to add nourishment to the daily meal the children receive at the school. Elephant Whispers regularly visits the school to plant new seedlings, deliver elephant manure and to donate wood. As the school does not have cooking facilities, the daily meal is cooked on an open fire.
SANDFORD COMMUNITY PRE-SCHOOL RENOVATIONS
Riebs Khoza, the Sandford Community Trust Secretary, has fond memories of his schooling years at Alexandria Lower Primary School near Elephant Whispers. Many of the Sandford Community children now attend this school 30 years later. Riebs introduced us to the dedicated and passionate teachers who were happy to welcome Elephant Whispers into their classes to meet their enthusiastic learners, and to discuss their needs for their classrooms.
Elephant Whispers had a wonderful time renovating and decorating the preschool classrooms with many inquisitive little faces peeping through the windows watching our progress. We learnt that when you give, you receive so much more in return. The children put on a beautiful concert filled with lovely singing and dancing to thank us; a most heart-warming experience.
ORANGE DONATION TO ENTOKOZWENI CRÈCHE
A local farmer generously donated six tons of oranges for the elephant. When the elephant had their fill, they were happy to share the oranges with the delightful children at Entokozweni Crèche. Many of the children only have one meal each day; the lunch they have at the crèche. After our visit to the crèche, we were invited to join a lesson on the importance of eating fruit; a charming experience.
HOSANNA & HOSPICE COMMUNITY PROJECTS
Hosanna is especially close to Elephant Whispers’ heart. Hosanna Community Projects was founded by Pastor Solly and Sipiwe Solomons in 2008. It was established as the social responsibility arm of the Hosanna Church to alleviate HIV/Aids, poverty, and the challenges of orphans and vulnerable children of its adjacent rural communities.
The hospice and the community projects run by Hosanna are remarkably successful in their support of the vulnerable, bringing home based care to the AIDS stricken, assisting 310 orphans and reaching approximately 450 vulnerable households in 2 villages in the Hazyview area.
Hosanna distributes 50 food packages to households once a week, in addition to nutritional support for 110 orphans.
The extraordinary couple, Solly and Sipiwe Solomon sold their property in Hazyview to raise capital which was used to finance the inception of the projects, acquisition of land and erection of infrastructure.
Elephant Whispers spends time playing with the children at Hosanna, providing them with the one-on-one attention they love and yearn for. We have spent many happy hours reading to the children, learning their songs, and throwing water balloons to teach ball skills. We have been amazed by the generosity of Elephant Whispers’ guests who have donated clothing, toys and food for the children, and bedding for the hospice centre.
To raise extra funds, and to supplement the children’s diets, Hosanna has planted a vegetable garden. The Elephant Whispers’ elephant were big-hearted in their donations of elephant compost to ensure the vegetables are top-quality.
Elephant Whispers hosted the Hosanna children, many of whom have never seen an elephant. After they bravely met, fed and touched the elephants the children enjoyed lunch and then showed off their colouring-in skills.
THE POWER OF TOUCH
To celebrate Tourism Month, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency organised a 3-day blind friendly tour. Most of the delegates have been blind from birth and, prior to visiting Elephant Whispers, had no ‘picture’ in their minds of the sheer size and power, and the distinctive physical characteristics of the majestic African Elephant.
Before the group arrived, the staff at Elephant Whispers brainstormed ideas on how to use senses, other than sight, to assist blind guests to be able to ‘visualise’ an elephant. Andre likened the blind guests to blind elephant who can survive in the wild by making use of their other senses, and knew this was the key to creating their special elephant experience.
The visitors put their trust in Andre, the Elephant Handlers and the elephants, giving him their hands to take them on a complete ‘tactile tour’; from the elephant’s smooth tusks and the patterned ridges under their feet, to the wiry hair on their tails. The guests put their fingers on the throbbing pulse in the elephants’ ears, they felt their breath against their cheeks and leant into their bodies to smell their distinctive elephant odour. Through touch, the guests recognised that elephants’ trunks are unbelievably strong, and yet they can gently take an elephant cube from people’s fingers and caress their faces in a greeting. With an incredible look of amazement on their faces, the visitors used their hands to ‘paint’ an elephant image in their minds, their sense of feel to imprint the texture of the elephant’s skin, and opened their hearts to complete their unique elephant picture.
The Rotary Club organise an amazing annual camp where children with cancer are cared for by cancer survivors. Elephant Whispers eagerly anticipates their visit each year, the children’s enthusiasm, excitement and their bravery are most humbling.
I first heard about Camp Quality a few years ago when I was contacted by the White River Rotary Club. I thought it was a wonderful idea to have a camp for children with cancer, where these special kids can just be normal – boisterous and naughty. It is really great how these people from Rotary Clubs in the area give their time and their love to spoil these children for a week and to give the parents a small holiday. Helping people, especially children with cancer is a cause very close to my heart. I know how it feels to have this terrible disease and I thank God for people like you who put their hearts and souls into helping others.
I wish you all the best and hope to be able to join you in years to come with this amazing project.
God bless you.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu