My Journey to Mother Nature

Vicovia (Vicky) is a trainee facilitator who has been working with Educo Africa for the last year. She was born in Valhalla Park, Cape Town and currently lives in Delft. She is trained in Child and Youth Care, and has developed a passion for mountains and truly believes in the restorative and healing power of Mother Nature. This is her story of the beginning of her love affair with the mountains:
It is believed that the wilderness can heal, rejuvenate and help you find calmness, perspective and help set your goals and objectives in life. This is so because Mother Nature has a natural way of holding whatever we want to leave in the mountains, these include stories of joy, pain and suffering and everything in between. So – welcome to my personal experience of the wilderness.
For me, stepping into the unknown brought a lot of fear, uncertainty as well as some excitement; it was these mix feelings that kept me going through the process. The first thing that drew my attention was the beauty of nature, and how nature takes care of itself. One thing I found fascinating was the number of all small rivers running individually, but yet all connected to a bigger river, and it symbolize how we as individuals all lead separate lives, but yet we are all connected and inter-dependent on one another. Secondly, the freshness of the air and not to mention the beauty of the stars at night, these are all natural gifts we get to enjoy at no fee. At first I had a fear of seeing wild animals, but once I saw some, which was a snake and wild Bok, the blessing of witnessing wildlife at its best flushed away my fears. Thirdly, another fear I had to deal with was the fear of the dark and being by myself, the Solo Nights have provided me with an opportunity to deal with those fears. What made me overcome my fears was that I knew that I was not alone, I had Mother Nature who was looking over me, and watching the stars really brought calmness over me. .
When I step into the wilderness now, I know what I lead my participants into, I know whatever weight they are carrying on their shoulders, whether it is the backpack, emotional weight or any other challenges they are faced with, Mother Nature will provide relief – and this I say because of my personal experience with Mother Nature. I remember after Solo Night getting into the circle to share my story – I shared it with tears and bits of laughter. After sharing, my heart felt free and I could feel a sense of moving forward and leaving the baggage that has been a barrier keeping me from living the life I was destined to live. What I enjoy now is to see how the wilderness opens that opportunity for all the beautiful young people that I work with. It moves my heart when they realise that the wilderness is a secret place where you can just be who you want to be.
The mountains and the wilderness have now become a home away from home for me. I no longer have any fears around it, instead when I’m not there; there is emptiness in my heart. I feel a very strong connection between me and nature now and there is always excitement when I know I will be visiting the wild. The work that I do in the wilderness feeds my soul and I feel blessed knowing that I get to see the beauty of the mountains often.
Our wilderness has a lot to give to us as people – physical, emotional and spiritual upliftment. Through continuous education, we can help others to see that we can learn so much from Mother Nature.

Yhe kids from Mitchells Plain

This is my second week with Educo Africa. Last weekend I’ve been at a course in the mountains. It was a group of children between 8 – 12 years old from Mitchells Plain a Township in Cape Town. It was a camp for them at the end of their school year.
It was amazing what has happened during this weekend. At the beginning the children has been very shy, but during the weekend they “blossomed”.
We provided several activities, for example rock climbing, swimming, a nature hike and creative arts.
The natural hiking impresses me in a special way. The participants has been invited to be aware of what they hear and what they can see in the nature. Than we debriefed the findings and compared it with the noises they hear in Mitchells Plain and the things they see at home. The children found out that nature is quiet and in the town there are many noises.
Then the participants were given cards with several pictures of animals and plants and they had to find out how these things are connected, for example the monkey lives in the tree or the spider eats the fly. They get a string, to throw it to each other. At least we had a web which showed us, that everything is connected. We put a bottle of water on the web as a metaphor for the human beings. We are living on this connection of the environment. If one string breaks, all the others are affected.

On the last day we gave the participants space to debrief their experiences. We split them into small groups and encouraged them to speak about their personal highlights. After that we came all together. They get a candle with a candle holder which they made with clay before. Then they took it and told the whole group about their personal highlight.
This has been a very good closure. The children were so happy and thankful. Even the accompanying adults were filled with enthusiasm!

Hello I’m Chrissy

This is my second week at Educo Africa. My I’m an intern from Germany and I’m going to stay at South Africa for 5 months. I’m looking forward to taking part in the courses and learning how the Educo staff members work.

I arrived at Cape Town on the 17th of November. Duncan met me at the airport and brought me to the Educo Office. First he showed me the City, the Table Mountain, the Devils Pick and the Lions Head so I can orientate myself. He explained me something about Cape Town its inhabitants, the social structures and the social levels.
As we arrived at the Educo Office everybody welcomed me. We had a meeting with all staff members to say good bye to Wiebke and Duncan and give them wishes on their way to their Vision Quest in the mountains.
The first days at The Educo Office I get to know the staff and the work they do at the office. They were very friendly and helpful.

My first impression of South Africa is that it’s a land of opposites and extremes, the rich and the poor people. The people on the road and in the shops are very friendly and helpful to foreigners.

The Power of Humanity

This is my last week, feeling that it has been a long time that I have been at the organisation.It just goes to show that it was a very busy 3 months. I feel blessed to have been part of that process and contributing.

In this mornings check-in,in the closing Alison gave me a mug..with a photo of myself and my intent statement.Whenever I look at that mug it takes me back to the Rites of passage experience,it was powerful and it still is. I am currently living my dream and I believe it is about to blossom as time goes on.

The organisation has taught me the power of humanity and how each individual holds one another in a space of support, love and with compassion.I have seen that in each individual at Educo and therefore my wish for the organisation is to not give up.Take risks and if things don’t go your way its ok!Life is all about taking risks and learning never stops!

In closing I just want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the following people.Firstly Alison Lee,a person of great faith in her God and also who has a soft heart for people.You love your work,sometimes I wonder what is your job description..hahaha..because you do alot.A mother who never stops talking about her kids evening during the meetings we had.Also a friend, who really knows how to give support.My wish for you is to keep that faith and continuing praying.Then Mark Gamble,new CEO. I guess we stepped into this organisation more or less at the same time of the year. You are leader with a vision and knows what your intent statement is in life.You are passionate about your work,a man who is driven and brings management skills to tjis environment,which in my opinion is great for being a business student.But most of all you are compassionate and bring about that humanity piece into the organisation.I thank you for your spirit and my wish for you is take Educo Africa and let it fly,let it soar like the eagle.Lali Milli-aah man;) you an individual that really reflects the aspect of being aware of reality and how one needs to be realistic of life.I met you on the Rites of Passage course, where you were facilitating and I was your co-facilitator on the Living and Dying Course for James House. I observed you in the office environment and yet you remain that gentle,easy-going and humorous human being,and my wish for you don’t stop in sharing that wisdom you possess, you are a man with wise words.Oh yes you cook a helluva meal on courses…speaking of food;Siphelele Chriwa-a woman who knows how to feed people.You are a beautiful african woman, who brings your own uniqueness to Educo.Gets things done,says whats on your mind and I admire that of you alot.I met you in 2007,when you facilitated the TSiBA leadership course, did we have lots of fun& 4 years has passed and there you are again, but this time on the Rites of Passage course, how ironic!my wish for you is continuing blossoming and spread your wisdom.Linda you are a woman who is strong and that your laughter…WOW! it has to make others laugh too.You are passionate about making difference in this country called South Africa and you surely walk the talk.My wish for you is continue aiming for greater heights and never stop smiling.Duncan-a man who is gentle, focused and is hungry to make a difference in people’s lives.In 2008 I was on one of the holiday courses with you and you brought along, passion,courage and even lots of humor and also the your powerful energy.My wish for you is continue what you are doing because you are doing a great job.Alexander known as Alex-what a sweet spirited individual.You are passionate about nature and very mindful of the environment.We did not spend that much time together,but I have discovered that you are very down to earth human being.Oh yes you are appreciated for keeping base camp in shape. My wish for you is stay as gentle as Mother nature and may your daughters see that father figure role that you play in their lives.Anita-the finance guru,a mother, a wife and one who is very faithful unto God.You carry with you the presence of God and when you speak you speak His words.Which is encouraging and motivating.Also the way you enjoy the working environment,I believe God has put you in this position for a reason.Therefore my wish for you is never stop believing,because your faith will set you free.Wiebke-I cant actually believe we share the same birth date! ;)a woman who is firm& wants to get things done asap,but I also discovered that there is gentleness that you have.My wish for you is that all the international programmes prosper and may expand.Reuben the community man,the man who is hungry to know what his identity is,a man who is hungry to make a difference in his community and a man that is very aware of his surroundings.We have had random conversations and what you say always leaves me thinking…My wish for you is explore the unknown because you will never know what you will discover.Then to Andile & Vicky welcome!you to have great potential which Educo will tap into.My wish for you is show them what you are made of and I wish you well for the future.Then Milly-the Mother Hen of the organisation.I leave you last because you are the person that holds together the family.You have enormous wisdom,been in the organisation ever since it established..what a legend!;)I have learnt so much from you and asked so many questions and not once were you too busy.You are indeed the elder at Educo & I am sure that the rest of the staff really appreciates what you are doing.I can continue the whole day but I wont.My wish for you is that remain the strong,wise woman you are..oh yes the humor is great!

My wish for Educo Africa is continue flying and continue to make that difference.

By

Niki Alexander

hws ilfe on that side

hws poeople coping interms of everyday life

A season for New beginnings

The time spent here was something I will cherish and from all the learnings of each day it has defined unanswered questions.

When I arrived at Educo it in a space of rush rush adapting to changing.The welcome from staff and even the new CEO, Mark Gamble was warm and full of joy.This way of practise in the work place has reminded me of the saying ‘one should treat others the way you want to be treated’and it is that simple.Educo Africa’s culture has beautifully defined that saying and it doesnt mean that people should step out of line and not know where the authority lies.

The people that I have connected with reflected components of how a human being should treat one another and also oneself.

The organisation is in a stabilisation phase and the changes that I have witnessed myself made me realise that there is hope and a positive future for this organisation. Reason being, firstly the employees that are dedicated, compassionate and believe in the power of the work they do, it takes courage, sacrifice and perserverance to be able to work in this sector.

I am not saying these things to make the organisation look and feel good but I am saying this because I have witnessed it with the naked eye and I will say it again-”this is a season for new beginnings”out with the old and in the new-just like the when seasons change change and give way for another season to step in.

When I leave on 18th November 2010,I will physically leave but my presence will be here and I hope in the future that I will return again and with a new objective and goal in mind.

by
Niki Alexander(TSiBA Intern)

James House-Living&Dying Course

It is exactly one week that I have arrived from the James House course, which took place from 20th-25th October.

So what is James House?it is a childrens home based in Hout Bay, Cape Town that provide children with support in terms of emotions and dealing with every day life issues. For example the major factor would be the children that are orphans due to the fact that their parents either abandoned them or died of an illness.

Now Educo took 18 participants to a wilderness experience, but in the end most of our time was spent at Base Camp due to the rain. Other than that these participants had expectations and in the end the majority of those expectations was met.
The whole outcome of the course was to allow these participant to have the space and time to grieve and tell their story.OH MY WORD!that process was very meaning and the fact that these young individuals could be strong and express their emotions with total strangers was mind blowing.I guess that is the power of being in nature and beng surrounded by the wilderness.

We also did activities that taught them general life skills like; listening, communication,teamwork,participation,
leadership etc.I must admit that the group was very open to learning to things and learning from their mistakes.

The facilitators that was on this course really did a wonderful job in terms of interacting.Reason being all of them spoke Xhosa, which i did not understand, but the facilitators tried their best to emphasise the group to speak English.However, if they did not it was not a train smash,because one of the facilitators would translate.Loads of appreciation to Lali,Linda and Sphesh OH yes and Joe who accompanied us as an observer.

Speaking of Joe, many thanx to you for giving your energy,wisdom and sense of humor to the group.I wish you a safe trip home and all of the best when you arrive in New Jersey.(USA)

Here is just one statement that one of the participants said that struck me.
“I always saw the people on tv with backpacks and hiking and I wanted to do that one day…and here I am today carrying a backpack and hiking…”
;)
By
Niki Alexander(TSiBA Intern)

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