On my recent trip to South Africa with G Adventures, we had the opportunity to visit one of the G Adventures supported projects, the Hope Africa Children's Day School. In Shalati Village, located just outside of Kruger National Park, there was no pre-school and many of the older children would end up missing school to take care of their younger siblings while their parents went to work. But now with the help of G Adventures and Planeterra, the Children's Day School offers a place for the community's youngest members to come, learn, and play. It's through the donations of every G Adventures tour that visits the school and the support of Planeterra, so that the school is able to grow and satisfy its specific needs. Recently, a water tank was installed to supply running water and there are plans for a vegetable garden, which will not only teach the kids about agriculture and supply food for their lunches, but the school will also able to sell the extra food in the community. This is a wonderful example of sustainable travel at work.
When we arrived, the children, all under the age of 5, were hard at work learning basic English words and songs. With a lot of tour groups coming through, they are used to visitors and were ready to show off what they've learned.
Then it was playtime! We followed the children out to the playground and almost immediately, I made my first friend. Since the kids are so used to visitors, they really love having their photograph taken and would come right up to me asking me to "shoot," a word they've picked up over time. Knowing that the kids here were used to being photographed, I decided to bring along my Instax instant camera, so I could give away some of the pictures I took. The first girl was a bit confused when the photo popped out the top and when I tried to give it to her, she even tried to put it back in the camera. But soon, the other kids had caught on to the fact that I had a crazy fun toy that was spitting out presents and I was swarmed. The cover photo here is the only record I have of any of them. Photos would disappear as quickly as I took them and you could see kids running around showing off to their friends. We made sure the teacher collected them all, so there would be no fights about who gets to keep them.
Playtime was a huge success but before I could load a second roll of film, it was over and time to say goodbye. The teachers wrangled them together for a photo in front of the mural and then they waved us off from the doorway.