Through supporting and uplifting local children we, and our guests, can make a difference in the future.
Imagine living on the borders of one of Africa’s greatest National Parks, but having never seen a zebra or elephant in reality. The Klaserie Private Nature Reserve recognised that the communities surrounding the Greater Kruger area are a key part of its future conservation. However, these same communities are completely disconnected from their natural heritage. Thus, Eco Children was created as an initiative by the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR) to educate and enrich the lives of its employees’ children through holiday ‘bush’ workshops. These nature-based camps aimed to foster an understanding and passion for wildlife, creating a future generation of nature guardians.
In the Beginning
Deon Huysamer is an owner of Simbavati Camp George and recalls how the concept of the Eco Children charity took form.
“In 2007, our farm manager, at the time, and I had a lively debate about the separation of reserve/camp staff from their children whilst they were working in the reserve. We agreed about the unhealthy social consequences this had and discussed what we could do to improve the situation. We decided to bring the children to their parents over school holidays and to teach them about eco-related subjects.
Our immediate solution was to conduct the first classes in Camp George’s gardens. We then started to train selected reserve/camp staff in eco-subjects and soon the children were being taught about conservation and wildlife in their own language.”
In the lush gardens of Camp George, under the beautiful trees, the seeds were sown for what we know as Eco Children today.
From its humble beginnings, Eco Children has since extended its reach to over 5,000 children in some of the poorest communities in South Africa. Following a whole-school development approach, they have adopted nine local primary schools, where the focus is not just on conservation education but also improving school infrastructure, installing a new kitchen and fully-stocked library as well as a vegetable eco-garden capable of supplementing school meals.
Ensuring that each child receives a filling, nutritious meal and has a safe, hygienic place to study is the foundation of Eco Children’s work. Once a child’s daily needs are being met, the programme’s other initiatives can be implemented. Their Eco-Villages combine colourful eco-gardens with a dedicated classroom for lessons in conservation and natural science taught by local Environmental Educators.
A Love for Reading
The new libraries help develop a culture of reading that has been shown to have a huge impact on literacy skills and attainment in education. An incentives programme motivates children to engage in their learning by rewarding achievement with books, new uniforms, overnight winner’s excursions and day trips into the Kruger National Park.
Getting the Best Start
Lastly, Eco Children established their coveted bursary programme. Identifying talented learners who would otherwise be held back by the burdens of poverty, these children are awarded a first-class education at Southern Cross Schools in Hoedspruit. To date, 34 students have benefitted from the scheme, with several having completed tertiary education and now leading successful careers, inspiring the next generation in their communities.
How Can You Help?
Guests that are passionate about making sustainable difference during a stay at our Simbavati Lodges in the Klaserie, can consider adding an enlightening school tour to their trip or donating to one of Eco Children’s programmes.
Simbavati proudly supports and endorses the work that Eco Children does and is passionate about uplifting the foundation’s work and the children benefiting from it.
Discover our Simbavati lodges in the Klaserie region, for your perfect safari experience with a heart for sustainability.
For more information about Eco Children, visit their website at www.ecochildren.co.za
This article was compiled by Simbavati Lodge Collection and Emily Whiting