Region: Wild Coast, South Africa
The Pondoland area, also known as the Wild Coast, on South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province is one of the poorest sectors of the country. There is a high illiteracy rate (possibly close to 50%), a near absence of technical education and lack of skills. Around 3% of all children in these rural areas are mentally retarded due to malnutrition. Wilderness Safaris has joined with the local community and its Mkambati Trust to create livelihoods through a combination of tourism, wildlife, business and the talents of the local people. One of the offshoots of these is upliftment in the local villages and their schools.
Wilderness and the Wilderness Safaris Wildlife Trust have initiated programmes where interested donors ‘adopt’ a school, and help to sponsor the school and its facilities. The aim here is to create a number of schools with such sponsors in the Mkambati area. A combination of donations from the Trust and private sponsors has seen significant success in two such schools:
Mkambati School – Sponsored by Bruna Zacks
The Mkambati School began in 1996 as a pre-school. Over time, the school grew, as did the demand for a higher level of education for the children in the region. The Transkei Agricultural Corporation, when going into liquidation, donated three 12-metre containers to the community; these containers are still being used as a school for the nearly 300 children of the Khanyayo district in Mkambati.
There are over 50 children in a classroom no more than 5m x 3m in size. The school currently has four qualified teachers who are completely dedicated to the children they teach. Under such difficult circumstances, these teachers do an incredible job.
Mkambati School is now a recognised Junior Secondary School and accepts children up to 14 years old. Through donations and the modest school fees that some pupils can afford to pay, the community has started constructing the new Mkambati Junior School. The new school will comprise two buildings (five classrooms), allowing for the school to expand in order to cater for the growing demand in the area. At one point, however, the funds dried up and the school remained at window height, until, through the kind sponsorship of family and friends of Bruna Zacks, it is now nearing completion.
Zimisele School Project – Sponsored by The Ultimate Travel Company
The Zimisele School Project has been adopted by the Ultimate Travel Company, UK. Zimisele School is a junior school located in Mtshayelo Village. It has 350 students, 6 teachers and only 9 classrooms with appalling conditions. The school facilities consist of broken desks and chairs, poor drinking water and no ablution facilities. The Ultimate Travel Company is initially sponsoring the building of a brand-new fully equipped classroom. This will be an ongoing project and in time will result in more well provided classrooms with the capacity to accommodate many more pupils.
Additional funds from private individuals through the Trust will allow these schools to be completed with regard to buildings and equipment. Obviously, thereafter, the day-to-day operational and running expenses need to be covered on a yearly basis.
Zimisele School Project – Sponsored by The Ultimate Travel Company – Completed
The Zimisele school project was initiated to improve the schooling conditions of the children in the Mkambati community. Zimisele School is located in the Mtshayelo Village, and at the moment has 350 learners and 6 teachers with the school buildings in appalling conditions. Ultimate Travel Company UK via the Trust sponsored the project to erect an additional classroom at the school. In the past the learners were sharing classrooms between the grades, making learning and concentration very difficult. The classroom has just been completed and this will allow the learners to have individual classrooms per grade, improving the quality of education at the schoo