This program is situated in the foothills of the Amatole Mountains and is surrounded by rural villages where the Xhosa tribe has lived for many centuries.
About the Program
This exciting rural grass roots program is situated in the foothills of the Amatole Mountains in the Eastern Cape, close to the famous village of Hogsback and surrounded by rural villages where the Xhosa tribe has lived for many centuries. The surroundings are very rural and only have few facilities. The communities still work the land, graze their cattle and cook on open fires.
Participating at this program as a volunteer will not only provide you the possibility to contribute to the needs of this community but also to experience a life style where time has stood still in many ways.
The program was started by Lieve, who is originally from Belgium. Together with her family she lives in this rural village where she started a backpacker’s hostel in 2010 together with her husband Elliot who originates from this village. They have started different programs that need some help; several schools, daycare and after school care, a bee keeping program, a woodwork program and charcoal production. There is always something to do!
Because of the lack of jobs in the area, most people move to the cities in hope of a better life and therefore the schools struggle with decreasing numbers of students. Government regulations in this region state that the teacher to student ratio should be 1:35. Due to smaller numbers in individual grades, this requires teachers to instruct multiple grades at one time as they share classrooms between 3 or 4 grades at the same time. This is a very difficult situation for both teachers and students and is one of the main reasons volunteers are much needed.
With the assistance of the local teachers, volunteers will instruct English, Math’s, Geography and Life skills and focus their attention on those children that need more attention or to teach classrooms which are without a teacher.
During the school day, children are not exposed to arts and sports. After school children typically play in the village without adult supervision. This is the ideal time to introduce the children to sports, games and other arts and crafts activities.
An important new program is bee keeping; bee keeping is easy to get into initially but can take years to bear fruit and start generating a decent income. In this period the new beekeepers need to keep on working at it and have to catch swarms and build up their broods until they produce enough honey to extract and sell. There are other potential income streams and an example is removing bees from dwellings for a nominal fee or using the wax for candles and other products. New swarms are added to the beekeepers stock and so the business is slowly built up. We were donated 5 catch hives, brood chambers and supers to start with as well as smokers, tools, and safety equipment.
The team consists of 6 community members that have shown persistence in maintaining the beekeeping program and have been able to harvest and sell over R2000 worth of honey in the first year. Normally in the first year of bee keeping it is not able to harvest honey but the dedication of the involved community members has provided positive results and will provide them with a source of income for the future.
The woodwork program is started due to AIDS pandemic and other social problems. Many women and men, who are the sole breadwinners for their families, lack proper education and job opportunities are few to find.
The high dropout number for youth from High School also creates limited options to find paid work so why not create a new income generating program!
The program was donated a semi industrial wood working machine and small equipment like clamps, drill, glue etc. to get started. A wood workshop has been build and a local guy is training participants while producing small furniture like beds, benches, tables, etc to be sold and therefore provide a way of income for the participants.
Soil in the area is very poor especially because of increasingly aggressive invasive Black Wattle, which causes soil erosion which will negatively impact grazing pastures over time. Black wattle is a water loving tree and invades water courses climbing higher and higher up the hillside. When heavy rains fall and mini floods occur, the trees fall over and pulls up a ball of roots creating a hole. At the next flood water swirls around in the hole, making it deeper and deeper and so on causing soil erosion.
With this program, the cutting of Black Wattle trees and using this wood to produce charcoal, we aim at empowering the underprivileged community in our area through sustainable development and job creation as well as control and eradication of invasive plant species and the recovery of productive grassland and indigenous forest.
There is, besides daily help and assistance, always an ongoing need for financial support. Any possible gifts and donations provided by volunteers and their network of people are extremely appreciated. Instead of collecting goods and materials for donation, it is recommended to purchase and donate these on location.
Things they could use are:
Learning materials for the children
Sports equipment and materials for the children (soccer shoes, balls)
Clothing for the children
School uniforms for the children
Tools for the woodwork shop
Working days will be from 8.00am until 14.00pm at one of the schools. After 14.00pm you can help preparing afternoon activities, help building the furniture and much more.
In the afternoon when the children come home from school, you can devote your full attention to the kids. You can be involved in the following activities:
Individual attention: It sounds so simple but with daily individual attention you can really help the children. You can for example teach them the English alphabet, how to count, about animals and which colors there are. Playing games can also be a part of your tasks. As a volunteer you play a big part in the individual development of the children.
Sports: After school, the kids like to play some sports together. However, the always play without adult supervision. Best known sport for boys is soccer and netball for girls, but you are encouraged to introduce other sports like karate, dance, gymnastics, etc. these activities will be organized for primary school children and will teach them important life-skills such as winning and losing, working as a team, leadership and more.
Homework: When the older kids come home from school you can help them with their homework. You can improve their English by talking to them or help them with reading and writing assignments. If you’re good at Mathematics, you can help them with this. It doesn’t matter what you are good at, you can always help them out with some subjects.
Organize: If you volunteer, you can regularly organize activities, not only for fun but also to increase
the social skills of the children and to work on behavioral challenges.
For the other programs we love to have fresh ideas on how to improve on the marketing of the honey, what new products we could make, how we can increase income generating programs for the community or to organize a specific community event. So if you are an organizer and can think independently there is an endless list of possibilities!
Extra attention: Some children need special attention because they are left behind with their personal development. Some cannot read or write properly, and that is where you can help out and make a difference.
Working Days and Hours
Working days are from Monday to Friday with the weekends off. The coordinators will bring you to the program around 8.00pm and will pick you up around 2.00pm. Afterwards you can help with the programs if you want. Same as in the weekends, if you like, you can also help on weekend with fun outings and other activities.
The small village is situated in the Seymour area and is a small Xhosa (local tribe) village. There are few facilities like you would have in a big city but you have the open country side, passing cows and dogs, great forests for hiking and mountain biking and a very friendly community. Hogsback is the closest town where you will find an ATM, some shops and restaurants and a variety of tourist accommodations; perfect to visit for the weekend.
Cities in the area are Alice and Fort Beaufort with East London as the biggest major city within 2 hours drive. East London is a city that still manages to retain some of its old fashioned values blended with a dollop of laidback charm makes. East London is the gateway to the wild coast and the sunshine coast and the only river port in South Africa - one of the most appealing cities on the coast.
East London is all about its long, white stretches of sandy beach that appeal to surfers, swimmers and sun worshippers alike. The beaches here are some of the finest in the world and a few, like Nahoon Reef, are a surfer’s paradise and host to international surfing competitions. East London’s easy access to other areas like the Wild Coast, and inland to the Amatole Mountains, also makes it a popular destination. Known as Buffalo City, East London lies on the Buffalo River, its people are refreshingly friendly and its weather generally pleasant throughout the year.
The Eastern Cape and surroundings show a large variety of natural beauty. To the East you will find the Wild coast (former Transkei and Ciskei) which is mostly rural and undeveloped, but more to the south you will find Addo Elephant Park and great coastal villages such as Port Alfred. Then you have the great Karoo; a semi desert area with wide open spaces, large nature areas and long open roads with historical places such as Graaff Reinet, the Baviaanskloof Wilderness and much more. To the East towards Cape Town, you will be amazed by the Tsitsikamma National Park, holiday villages such as Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and natures Valley or the surf mecca Jeffrey’s Bay. This gives you plenty to see and visit while you are here and combine your volunteering with traveling this amazing country as well.
You will stay at a basic backpacker’s hostel, situated 30
minutes driving from Hogsback or 30 minutes from the
rural town of Seymour.
The hostel offers 1 dormitory room sleeping 6 and two triple bedrooms. The rooms are located in traditional mud huts called rondavels which are warm in winter and cool in summer. Please note that there will be no electricity in the rondavels. Solar lights are provided, but a torch is very useful. There is a central plug point in the main building to charge cell phones, laptops, etc.
We only use rain water as drinking water, but water bottles can be filled at the taps in the village if you prefer borehole water or feel free to bring bottled water.
Rain water is very safe to drink however in this pristine area of the Eastern Cape.There is a little local shop in the village where you can buy your most important needs and at least weekly shopping to the towns of Alice of Fort Beaufort. Showers are heated by solar power or a proper wood fire and the toilets are all composting toilets.
Three meals per day are included and we work on a set menu per week. There is free coffee and tea available at any time. It differs per day what you’ll get for breakfast, dinner or lunch and dishes are very much what is eaten locally available. Please tell our coordinators about any wishes, vegetarian wishes and allergies concerning food.