PERIVOLI OKONJIMA COUNTRY SCHOOL
POCS NEWSLETTER DEC 2014
‘Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.’
At the end of 2013 I said that 2014 was going to be an amazing year. The year started well, but there were some unexpected changes which stretched all of us to our limits. These allowed us to discover our potential as a team and we’re thus ending this year on an amazing note.
Within our infancy - we are only four years old you know, we have watched our children transform in ways unimaginable. They have grown and absorbed every bit of information that was imparted/presented to them.
Looking back at the year, we see our children as little adults. Reflecting on all the changes we have been through, the children have matured tremendously.
Since the Perivoli Okonjima Country School (POCS) is about ‘Conservation through Education’, the children have immersed themselves thoroughly in activities supporting our aim: they cared for their own colony/nest of rabbits (we had to Google that) – feeding them, keeping their burrow clean, giving them attention, etc. This has taught them the responsibilities that come with having pets or domestic animals.
The cherry on the cake was bringing Hiccup the warthog to school. Hiccup has opened up a whole new door for our children to see how to treat and love a ‘wild’ animal. Hiccup has taught us how to love animals and he has given us so much joy in return. Hiccup is a sort of spokesperson for the animals. If we can love Hiccup and the bunnies, imagine how we can impact human/animal relationships by bringing this love and respect to all animals.
Now this year has drawn to a close, we are glowing in all our achievements and know the future is so much brighter because we dare to dream for better things. Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and other season’s greetings!
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FOCUS
The children from Grades 3 to 5 have Environmental Education lessons twice a week during the whole school year. These lessons are very important as we want the kids living on Okonjima to obtain a greater understanding of the natural world and the importance of wildlife conservation. The riverbed is so well suited to our famous games ‘Run like a Cheetah’ and ‘Stalk like a Leopard’ where the children have to imitate the main hunting techniques of two of Namibia’s large predators.
2014 stood out in the POCS calendar when we celebrated two important awareness days, one being 'Giraffe Day' and secondly a very special 'World Lion Day'. These celebratory days have so much significance: they provide the children with insight, allowing them to understand the plight of our environment and the challenges it faces. They provide the children with an opportunity to dig deep and come up with solutions on how to protect and continue to preserve the environment they live in. Events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation.
To create awareness for Giraffe Day, the POCS students joined in the fun by celebrating these beautiful animals with a giraffe cake and wearing bright blue jeans, giraffe masks with everyone desperately trying to stretch their necks and hold their heads tall! We would like to congratulate Namibia for their conservation efforts towards our giraffes and making sure their population stays stable.
Did you know?:
- Giraffe numbers in Africa have plummeted from approx. 140,000 to fewer than 80,000 in the last 15 years – a decline of 40%
- Giraffe have already become extinct in seven African countries.
We firmly believe that our Namibian Government will stop at no ends to conserve our wildlife. Namibia is one of the few countries in the world to specifically address conservation and protection of its natural resources in its Constitution. It states, ‘The State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting international policies aimed at the following: maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes, and biological diversity of Namibia, and utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future’.
POCS celebrated World Lion Day during the week prior to the 10th of August 2014 as all Namibian Schools were either writing final examinations or were closed for the winter vacation: however, no time was lost by the schools in the Ehirovipuka Conservancy and Perivoli Okonjima when they created beautiful lion-masks, painted lions on their school walls, sang songs, recited poetry and enacted plays in honour of the King of the Beasts. In Windhoek, one of the oldest Namibian businesses, Wecke & Voigts, filled their shop with ‘lion bags’ and fluffy lions promoting lion conservation to concerned Namibians.
Why do we take the time to involve children and adults alike? Lions throughout Africa are facing persecution at the hands of humans whether they are farmers, landowners or illegal traffickers. Lion numbers are declining, ideal habitat is lost because of change in land-use, and the natural prey-base has been over-utilised. In honour of the lions, the Perivoli Okonjima students organised a soccer game: We had the lion team and human team. The lion team roared to victory winning this battle 2-1. Let’s work towards winning many more battles for our lions so that they will survive for generations to come!
POCS scholars participated in two camps at the AfriCat Environmental Education site in 2014. All the scholars from Grade 3 and above had a short but fun-filled introductory camp during a weekend early in February 2014. Then well- known faces visited our AfriCat Environmental Centre again and during the last weekend of November 2014, 20 children from our Perivoli Okonjima Country School attended our camp as a highlight of their end of school year.
A few weeks earlier to November 2014 our POCS children visited the Wild Dog puppies Messi, Yogi and Robin. On this camp they were able to see their incredible growth as well as the rehabilitated adults in the Okonjima Nature Reserve. We like to use the Wild Dogs as an example of teamwork. Wild Dogs are always found in a pack and are known to always help and take care of each other.
After a refreshing swim and a final quiz the Okonjima Guides took 20 very tired but hopefully happy children home. What an amazing experience!
Our hope is that the young children of our 'country school' as well as the children that the AfriCat Environmental Education program reaches, will become active conservationists and that this interaction will empower them to be the change and make the changes that are necessary to sustain livelihoods, conserve wildlife and protect the environment long into the future.
Renee Lighton – Educational Inspirations
Renee was introduced to us about six years ago, and we have not looked back, thanks to her involvement especially in guiding us with the Perivoli Okonjima Country School. Twice a year for a week at a time Renee hosts workshops with the teachers and parents of POCS. Renee is an expert in using recycling material for numeracy, literacy and anything else that inspires the love of learning. Her method of teaching is playful and creative. Renee’s favourite saying is, ‘Let’s play’. With Renee our school is on the up, up and up!
Through her coaching and workshops she delights and ignites a love of learning – always engaging, challenging and empowering her clients to transform their thinking. Her belief in a hand up rather than a hand out approach invites sustainable, lasting change. (Partners for Possibility)
POCS 2014 Talent Show
On 17 October, the Perivoli Okonjima Country School hosted its very first talent show: ’POCS GOT TALENT’! The students were very unsure and we had a few cancellations at the very last minute as the nerves got the better of them. However, we applaud them for putting in the time and effort beforehand. After experiencing the talent show and realising it was not all that bad or embarrassing, I am sure we will have those students on stage next year! ‘I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability, or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life.’ Dean Koontz
It was a wonderful evening of laughter, dancing and singing.
End of Year Cultural Evening
As the year drew to a close, the main event on any calendar arrived – apart from the long-awaited holidays! We decided that we wanted a change from the nativity play and so settled on a cultural evening. Everyone was buzzing with excitement and the teachers were getting into a bit of a fumble . . . costumes to organise, play to be directed, kids to learn their lines and to memorise those songs . . . oh dear, but the tunes and rhythm were just amazing. Each class performed a different cultural piece.
The pre-primary children performed the gum boot dance which originated during the apartheid years in the mines where all the men from different ethnic groups in South Africa migrated for work and created their own ‘culture’ with a language called Fanagolo. The gum boot dance incorporates all dances from the different groups. However the pre-primaries were overcome with stage fright . . . and all became an incoherent mumbling . . . the dance looked more like . . . ’put your left foot out . . . put your right foot out . . . turn around’ . . . it was hilarious!
The Grades 1 and 2 combination class entertained us as the 'Mexican mat hatters'. They all had their Mexican hats and ponchos on. We were introduced to the piñata and thank you to Luigi Bassi and a few others, who had the strength to beat this poor thing to pieces until all the wonderful sweeties fell out. The kids, including Hiccup the warthog, were on the floor so fast. Hiccup was on a sugar high! The piñata originated as religious symbolism, however in modern days it has lost its original meaning and now provides fun at parties instead.
The Grades 3 and 4 combination class provided a really educational entertainment when they introduced the concept of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday celebrated mainly in the US for the week between 26 December and 1 January each year. The holiday was established in 1966 to help African Americans remember and celebrate their heritage.
The word 'Kwanzaa' comes from the Swahili language and means 'first fruits'.
Each day of the seven days is dedicated to one of 'The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa', which are:
1. umoja – to maintain unity in the family and community
2. kujichagulia – self-determination, to be responsible and speak for oneself
3. ujima – collective work and responsibility, to build and maintain a community
4. ujamaa – economic co-operation, to help and profit one another
5. nia – purpose, to build and develop the community for the benefit of the people
6. kuumba – creativity, to do everything possible to leave the community more beautiful and beneficial for future generations
7. imani – faith, to believe in parents, teachers and leaders.
A candle is lit each day on the special candlestick, the 'kimara', to represent these principles. (http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/kwanzaa)
They had dances representing Kwanzaa and their finale was Justin Biebers ‘Drummer boy’ . . . which brought the house down . . . or more like the school roof!
Our final cultural event was performed by Teacher Bessi’s class. The children represented the Native American Indian – so similar to our Bushman, with their connectivity, respect and understanding of our natural world. The evening was represented by Markus, our lovely little Nooitgedacht horse, painted colourfully and ridden bare back by Jayd, dressed in her Native American attire. They all looked gorgeous, and all had their Tepees and dream catchers. They sang the most heartfelt and ear appealing music, read out poetry of a time when man was connected to mother earth and sought the healing of the gods and appreciated the medicinal properties nature brought – when man respected and was one with animals and his surrounds. How man craves that now!
The atmosphere that evening was alive and tingling, it was magical – a chorus of angelic children bringing the love of the Christmas spirit to all of us.
A FINAL GOODBYE AND MANY, MANY THANKS
We would like to wish Teacher Bessi all the best for the future. Bessi has finally decided it is time to retire and try her hand at something new. We thank Bessi for all the hard work she has invested in our little school over the past four years. You will be sorely missed.
MANY THANKS TO:
- Firstly to Mr. James Alexandroff (http://www.arisaig-partners.com) from the Perivoli Trust for his amazing, continuing financial support.
- To Okonjima Lodge for their many contributions to our school i.e. meals, game drives, guides, general maintenance etc.
- As always, to Renee Lighton (www.reneelighton.co.za) who comes up from South Africa to give us continuous support and guidance to keep us on the right track. You are a star!