Children in the Wilderness Bobirwa Community & Wilderness Experience – Good Hope Group

Read this report written by Isabel Wolf-Gillespie (CITW Bobirwa Eco Club Coordinator). Isabel organised and facilitated a visit from the Good Hope Group in June.

This experience was about social volunteering and assisting in the Lentswe Le Moriti and Mathathane Schools and Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Eco-Clubs, as well as an opportunity to explore and learn about the wilderness that is the Bobirwa region of Botswana. The group consisted of 10 boy students / learners (aged 15-18 years), 3 teachers from the school from New York City as well as Vanessa Randon from Good Hope based in Cape Town.

The group spent the first two days at Lentswe Le Moriti Primary School. After an introduction between the entire school staff complement, all the learners and some community representatives, everyone engaged in two icebreaker games. Thereafter the school continued with their usual days’ activity, while the Good Hope Group and Isabel ‘got to work’. The group engaged in and completed the following tasks, essentially to the benefit of the Eco-Club but in essence for the entire school:

  • Building of an insect hotel habitat
  • Transplanting of a full seedbed in the schools’ vegetable garden
  • Showcasing and explaining the insect hotel to the learners
  • A full game of soccer and netball
  • Attending a ‘normal’ school lesson in Uncle Joe’s Grade 6 Class

On arrival at Mathathane Primary School we were greeted by the principal Mr. Madome and the Eco Club teacher Dimpho. They excitedly shared the news that a last-minute visit by the Assistant Minister of Primary School Education had been announced for the day. Mr. Madome ensured that we could go ahead with the proposed program, and that he would proudly share our presence and engagement with the Assistant Minister as well. At Mathathane the Good Hope Group was tasked with the following:

  • Building of an insect hotel habitat
  • Showcasing and explaining the insect hotel
  • Planting of trees
  • Preparing 3 x more beds for vegetables to be planted
  • Transplanting a full seedbed in the schools’ vegetable garden
  • A litter clean up through the entire school grounds all the way down to the soccer field
  • A full (very competitive) soccer match against the Standard 7s of the school (Botswana won!! ☺ )

The experience was a full success, not only changing the lives of the children in our Eco Clubs, but also the lives of the visitors from NYC. Before or after each community visit, Isabel engaged the Good Hoop Group in a reflective conversation with the aim of intensifying the boy’s growth and experience. At the end of their stay they were asked to write appreciation cards to anyone they have enjoyed meeting or been touched by the Community and Wilderness.

Cards of Appreciation Testimonies:
“Words can’t even explain the influence you had on me. You are just filled with positivity and it’s contagious! I can’t wait to come back out again to do some more work with you. Thank you again!”
“… As I have said before, I have learned from you than I have in science classes in the last five years. This trip was life-changing for me, as you opened me to the life in the villages and how they struggle yet they are always so happy and cheery… I would really like to come back and volunteer again and bring more people to experience the generosity we can bring.”
“Thank you for helping me realize what life is like in rural Botswana, and I hope we stay in contact because this is something, I want to really do in the next 6 years and for the rest of my life.”

Report compiled by Isabel Wolf-Gillespie – Children in the Wilderness Bobirwa Eco Club Coordinator; Images by Isabel Wolf-Gillespie & Vanessa Randon