EarthChild Project: Connecting with Nature
Framed by the Table Mountain, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and the mesmerizing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town is surrounded by incredible natural beauty but isn’t accessible to all its inhabitants. On Saturday October 28, NGO EarthChild Project organized a hike for a group of school kids from Yomelela Primary School with the intention to explore and connect with nature. Cape Town photographer Samir Abdul volunteered his time to photograph the hike to raise awareness for this cause.
-text by Fernanda Hurtado Ortiz, images by Samir Abdul
ABOUT EARTHCHILD PROJECT
The hiking was organized by Western Cape based NGO the EarthChild Project, which works with 8 schools in two townships in Cape Town – Lavender Hill and Khaylistha, offering complimentary education to under-resourced schools with a focus on the environment, health and self-development. Their work is focused on health and wellness, lifeskills and the environment through programs integrated with the schools curriculum.
This includes yoga and mediation, organic gardening and environmental education, and hiking clubs. Through these guided activities, the organization aims to nurture and develop a new generation of conscious, confident and responsible earth children.
HIKING: CONNECTING WITH NATURE
With the philosophy that one cannot respect and love nature if one does not experience it, the EarthChild Project introduced a hiking club as part of their program. With Cape Town’s natural beauty as their backyard, many of the children growing up in the Cape Flats never get the chance to experience the city’s beautiful natural reserves, mountains, beaches and animal sanctuaries. Many live in communities faced with challenges such as high unemployment rates, gangsterism, and drug and alcohol abuse, and therefore seldom leave this harsh environment and have never seen or experienced the nature around them.
With the aim to inspire children to connect with nature, hikes are organized once a month on a Saturday, exploring the many beautiful hiking trails in and around Cape Town. Each hike includes a guided meditation and silent walk and teach the children about fauna and flora, as well as environmental challenges such as alien vegetation and pollution.
For October’s hike, the group set out for Silvermine Nature Reserve, taking advantage of the recent good weather and blooming fauna. An oasis of fynbos and hiking trails, Silvermine was full of wild vegetation, especially South Africa’s endemic Erica hirtiflora, painting the landscape in a purple-pink hue. After a physically tough and emotionally therapeutic hike under Cape Town’s strong spring sun, the group reached the reservoir where some chose to cool down in the water and others sat on the boardwalk, talking and connecting. Organized by Xoli, the organization’s Hiking Club environmental coordinator, she hopes the hikes will “inspire children to play a role in our societies by creating the change they want to see, by learning and developing as sense of UBUNTU (humanity), because we all have the ability to enhance or change the current situation.”