Introduction.

The Chairman, Amatola Foundation

Dear Ib,

Re: Feedback on the January U.P.C. 2010

In January we have again been able to host a successful Under Privileged Camp thanks to your organisation's donation. Would you please pass on to the Foundation members how grateful we are and this report on the success of the camp.

During this camp we continued our focus on Conflict Resolution, Communication and Understanding Democracy. The programme also included Community Based Projects for all of the 118 children who attended.

Please do not hesitate to ask if there are any queries or if there is something about this for which you would like more details.

Yours sincerely,

Tonya Burton - Centre Manager, Hobbiton-on-Hogsback

 

Tonya’s Report:

January Camp: Children.

Numbers invited: 130

Numbers attending: 118

Backgrounds:

Gender:

Health: Reasonable to very poor. The Port Elizabeth children were from a Children’s Home. The Grahamstown Children were from the poorest of the Joza District of Grahamstown and were identified by the Assumption Feeding Clinic, Rafael Centre and Eluxolweni Shelter as being potentially the most receptive and deserving. The East London children were from E.L. Children’s Home which comprises of four homes in and around E.L. The social workers identified these children as the most deserving.

Camp duration: 7 days.

Activities offered: Self Development, Understanding Democracy, Conflict Resolution, Creative Arts, Abseiling, Group Dynamics, High, Middle and Low Ropes Courses, Hiking, Videos, Camp Cleaning, Kitchen Work, Early morning jogs/swims/aerobics, Activities in the Hall, Night Hiking and Camping and the eradication of Alien Plant species, understanding the need for a tidy environment.

Number of Instructors: 32

Instructor Backgrounds:

The Camp.

This camp was held for seven days for 118 children who were worked through a programme of democratically chosen activities. As always, points were awarded for each completed voluntary task and again extra duties (such that would benefit the community, like litter collection or dish washing) were assigned to misbehaving individuals.

We also continued with our programme of developing Life Skills that they are not going to be given at school and to this end we focused on further Conflict Resolution, Communication and Understanding Democracy. We also educated the children on Alien Invasive plant species and we eradicated some in and around Hobbiton.

We also focused on some fun creative activities and also presented Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to the children with the Instructors taking on several roles. We enjoyed this activity and were surprised to see how delighted the children were with the play and the high level of enjoyment they received from this activity.

For the rest we continued to use the basic model of the camp as we have been so successfully using over the last few years, again with great success.

Outcomes.

On the whole, the children that we regularly work with are becoming more disciplined, easier to work with and happier and we must wonder if this is in part due to the long term effects of this programme. This is consistent with the reports that we get from the Sisters of the Assumption Feeding Clinic as well their desperation, which is shared with other organisations, that we continue to take their children on these camps. If this was not sufficient evidence of the benefits to the children and their enjoyment of the camps, then their letters of thanks, a selection of which are included in the hard copies posted to you, should serve as ample proof of how much your generosity means to them.

Photographs.

We will post a copy with photographs and some of the letters of thanks.

Finances: UPC January 2010.

Breakdown.

Finances: G.O.O.D. Project at Fairewood, December 2009.

Breakdown.

  • Food 3,461.89
  • Telephone 162.99
  • Equipment and welding 1,270.41
  • Fuel 454.93
  • First Aid 271.05  
  • Total 5,621.27   

Josh’s report:

Did You Know?...

Every time I climb Gaika’s mountain with these kids I swear it gets steeper and higher, but every time it is also one of the things that we get in the feed-back as providing the greatest sense of accomplishment. This time was no exception, so much so that the new Instructors all asked why we do not have this as a regular feature in what we offer and why we only allow the Under Privileged Children to do this hike. The answer is two-fold: i) I would die, and ii) climbing Gaika’s involves the following:

  1. High energy breakfast of French Toast for the children and Instructors. This means 21 loaves of bread, 140 eggs, lots of milk, 1 kg syrup and 2 kg cheese.
  2. Instructors run around after breakfast packing 13 1st aid kits, 140 apples, 140 roles of Super C vitamin sweets (unpacked and stored in 13 bags to prevent littering), 13 plastic refuse bags, about 20 Cell Phone recharge vouchers for 3 different cell phone providers, 140 filled water bottles as well as 13 2l juice bottles, 280 fresh biscuits and 280 past-sell-by donated biscuits.
  3. The bus and the truck checked out for fuel and oil. Somehow we always need a last minute dash to town to get oil or fuel or paraffin for cleaning the filter. I do not know why this never gets picked up in advance, but somehow it doesn’t. The other driver then needs to get early breakfast. He always forgets and then we end up waiting for him.
  4. Shoes need to be provided for those who do not have any. This can take some time as everyone claims to have had their shoes stolen. They lie, of course, but we have to check it out anyway.
  5. The children get loaded according to size with the first 70 smaller children onto the truck. About half of them need to get off again at this point and go to the toilet as they forgot to do it earlier. The truck then leaves and the remaining bigger (and therefore presumably faster) kids follow on the bus.
  6. Sometimes the main forestry gate has been locked. This is only something that one can only find out once you have driven along a narrow winding lane with nowhere to turn the bus. If I can’t lift the gate out of the ground (they now cement their gate posts down!) I have to reverse the bus back along the road. This is only fun for the children.
  7. When we finally arrive at the base the slower group are already far up the mountain. As soon as I stagger up to the ½ way resting point everyone gleefully jumps up and wants to start walking again. Coughing up blood I trudge wearily on.
  8. By the time we eat lunch at the top I have worked up a serious appetite. After I have eaten my apple, biscuits and sweets I still feel like I could just squeeze in something extra, like a sheep maybe, or a small ox.
  9. By this stage the children are bouncing around and I fear loosing one over the edge, so we start down. We accumulate something like the momentum of an avalanche, with me barely able to keep ahead of them. If I stop I just know that they will flatten me and probably nobody would notice until they get down to the bottom of the mountain. If I know the Instructors they would laugh and leave my maimed and trampled body there as a warning to future Centre Directors.

This is why we don’t often climb Gaikas.

Grahamstown Outdoor Outreach Development Programme.

We held a further G.O.O.D. project in December, this one just for boys as we had held a weekend camp just for girls a few months earlier which you saw when you visited us. This camp was also a residential project and lasted 5 days. As always we offered life skills as well as opportunities to do some community work. I have made a list of both below:

Skills development:

  • Basic Welding Training
  • St. John First Aid Training
  • Swimming Training at DSG school pool
  • Anger management / Conflict resolution

Community work:

  • Makana’s Kop Old Age Home gardening
  • Trench Farming training / practical
  • Municipal dam clearing / cleaning
  • Pathway construction

The boys were also made to do all the food preparation, kitchen and cleaning work, something that in the strongly patriarchal Xhosa society is normally considered to be beneath the work of a man and left for the women-folk. Another first for most of the boys is that we took them to the cinema and almost none of them had ever been to a movie before. It was sobering to see how fascinated they were: we tend to take so many privileges for granted.

I conclude again by reminding you that Danes definitely make the best Instructors, and so if you know of any youngsters wanting to do a GAP year and to help the disadvantaged at the same time, we will always welcome them at Hobbiton!

Yours sincerely,

Josh Paton, Centres Director - Hobbiton Association