At Simbavati we are passionate about our community and our long-term goal is to see the community around us thrive both economically and socially.
For this reason, we have partnered with Eco Children, a local non-profit organisation focusing on improving education in the area.
Who are Eco Children?
Eco Children focuses on hands-on environmental education and whole school development and work with primary schools in the area. They help schools better their infrastructure and the overall teaching conditions, in order to improve education and empower learners to break the cycle of poverty they have been born into. For more info, watch this video.
What do they do?
All schools in the Bushbuckridge, Acornhoek area are quintile 1 schools, meaning learners do not pay school fees, and are reliant on the government for subsidies. These subsidies are not sufficient to maintain infrastructure and, most of the time, these schools do not have safe or sufficient restrooms for learners, and derelict kitchens and classrooms.
One of the first things Eco Children do when they partner with a school is establish a thriving vegetable garden and build a classroom – these are called an Eco Village. Learners and teachers are closely involved in establishing these facilities and take complete ownership of them after construction.
In the garden and classroom learners are taught about the environment, the value and potential of the natural beauty that surround them and the importance of conservation. Vegetables grown in the garden are essential to supplement daily lunches that are served at the school as part of the government’s school feeding scheme – for most learners, this is the only meal they receive all day.
Eco Children also work with schools to improve essential infrastructure such as restrooms, kitchens and classrooms. Once these basics have been covered, they move on to the next phase of building a library at the school and establishing a successful programme to encourage reading and improve literacy.
Other projects that have developed from this basis, include capacity building and training for teachers, bursary programmes, the Kit-a-Kid programme and more.
How can you get involved?
Guests at Simbavati can enquire about visiting one of Eco Children’s projects to learn more about the organisation and the community or visit their website at ecochildren.co.za. Daily volunteer excursions can be organised or, if you would like to support the organisation with a donation, it will be deeply appreciated. Some of the projects to which your donation will go, are listed below.
Every year, Eco Children help hundreds of children purchase a full school uniform – for some, the first new set of clothing they have ever owned. We have seen first-hand how something as simple as a school uniform can give a child the pride and confidence to work harder and improve themselves. For R350, you can sponsor a full school uniform and give a child that boost to help them change their life.
Research has shown that the majority of grade 3 learners in South Africa are unable to read for meaning. This is a deeply concerning statistic and something that Eco Children takes extremely seriously. Eco Children has built six libraries at local schools and put thousands of books on their shelves. They have also established successful reading programmes at the schools to encourage reading and improve literacy. The biggest challenge with this project is getting enough books to fill the shelves of every new library. Any new or used children’s books or donations to purchase books, is sure to make an immense difference to every child who sets foot in their school’s library.