The children must have listened

15th July 2014
Craft activities during the Children in the Wilderness programme

© Janet Wilkinson

Friday 11th July 2014

This morning’s food run didn’t go to plan at all. When I arrived at the gate I discovered that the tailgate of the trailer had fallen off. This meant that there was a trail of crates and cooler boxes strung out along Middle Road and Sand Pad. This wasn’t the issue, getting the food back in one piece and the load in its entirety was. We managed to jam some of the crates across the back of the trailer and then the grocer lent me some rope to secure it.

Th journey back was a slow one and despite my best efforts to make the trailer secure the jolting of the road turned a crate or two. Half way back I bit the bullet and unhooked the trailer. This meant I could nip back in the landy to recover some carrots and mushrooms. I had tried walking before but it was too far and I must not forget that this is big five country despite the fact I was doing the grocery shopping. I also wanted to make the trailer whole again so once I recovered the overboard veg I went ahead and picked up the trailer’s gate and brought it back. Next challenge was to hook up the trailer but as Jomi had ordered enough booze to sink a battle ship I had to use the high lift jack to raise it onto the tow bar.

Once back at camp it was unload and a quick turnaround as I was being picked up for trails. I left a message for Jomi on his desk detailing a few things with a couple of postscripts – p.s. I’m hungover p.p.s Sarah has 1 x cherry tomatoes, 1 x button mushrooms, 1 x packet of rice and 1 x packet of biscuits which she found on Sand Pad. Sorry.

Trails camp was very different to normal. Rather than paying adults out here for a bit of bunda bashing camp was full of children. Wilderness run an environmental educational programme with local children. This week there were two groups of children from the Makuleke village. This trail was for the girls, eight of them who came with two elders from the village, Maria and Maria who also liked to be called GoGos, Grannies.

Very different to normal but great fun, first up we made bracelets out of beads which are going to be given to people taking part in a cycle tour. There wasn’t much chatter, the girls are still very nervous around us. After lunch we went out on a game drive, again it was really hard to get them asking questions. However, they had all been given one animal to study and they had certain questions that they had answer so that made it a little easier.

One thing that reallu surprised me was how scared of elephants both the children and the Gogos were. I didn’t think we were going to see any but then I followed up on a trumpet down Luvuvuh East. Here we found a bull who was soon joined by another. One of the girls, Delight, was really scared of them. We stayed with them for a while explaining how they wouldn’t hurt us, all we needed to do was to give them space and read their body language.

After dinner each person had the opportunity to say what they had learnt during the day. Delight said that it was not to be scared of elephants which was great to see, others repeated things that I’d told them which was really rewarding. Steve, the head guide had to drive Charlie back up to the staff village. This was bad timing from my point of view as Landi had just asked everyone to think of question that they wanted to ask during the day but hadn’t. Not all of them, but many had questions about the animals and there was no one else to answer them but me.

After the Q and A it was time for stories around the campfire. First of all Crispin told the children a story about opportunity and how you should grab it when it comes. Each time a story was told one of the children would translate it so that the Elders could understand. Then it was the Gogos turn to tell a story, you could tell that they’d done this so many times before, it was told with such passion and every now and again they would start to sing.

With a camp full of children it wasn’t long before it was bedtime. There was a lot of chatter but when this died down the sounds of the night could be heard.They hyenas were calling, the odd cough from a baboon and some zebra yelling their high pitched alarm call. I could also hear a little girl repeatedly saying “vchaba” which is Shanghan for “I’m scared”.