Sizanani Outreach Centre | Kwa-Zulu Natal Mtunzini – Twinstreams Environmental Education Centre
The Sizanani Outreach Centre camp was the first of 3 back to back camps which Just Footprints hosted in KwaZulu Natal during the July school holidays. What better way to escape the cold Gauteng winter weeks than joining our friends from Sizanani Outreach Centre at Mtunzini on the KZN North Coast. Sizanani is a community based organisation based in Nkandla assisting children with HIV/Aids and orphans and vulnerable children. 62 campers joined us for 5 days of adventure with the knowledgeable educational officers from Twinstreams, Sizanani staff and our own JFF volunteers.
The daily programme was packed to capacity with many stimulating environmental educational activities that were geared towards appreciating our natural environment by exploring the coastal dunes, navigating through the white and black mangroves, kayaking and crab hunting. Beach games, dance, drama, song and drumming also formed part of the programme.
The highlight of the camp was a visit to the Shakaland Cultural Village which was most informative and thoroughly enjoyed by all the camp visitors. The history of Shaka was explained at great length at different strategic points along the tour through the village and fascinated the mainly Zulu campers. The tour ended in an exhibition of Zulu dancing by professional Zulu dancers and our campers were invited to join in the show which they did with alacrity and much enthusiasm. Our own special ‘wake-up and shake-up, drummer and dance’ facilitator, Vusi, also joined in and stole the show with his expertise and dance moves.
Another first for Just Footprints was a special visitor from Duke University in North Carolina in the USA. Levi Rhoades came out to South Africa to spend his summer vacation with us as part of the DukeEngage programme. DukeEngage is a competitive program that provides funding for immersive, international or domestic community service for Duke University students. Since 2007, more than 3,600 DukeEngage students have volunteered with organisations around the world, working in groups or individually. Levi enthusiastically immersed himself in our camp programme with the campers teaching him how to Zulu dance, drum and try the local maize meal or ‘pap’ which was cooked in many different ways!
One of the most important aspects of this camp was to teach the children the importance of adherence to a medication regime, since many need to take anti-retroviral medication, or are caring for siblings who need to do so. This intervention was promoted daily through fun activities to foster adherence, acceptance of their condition and to develop a positive attitude around taking their medication.