Bonding with Boston
Soon after the group from Shea O’Connor Combined School arrived at Entabeni Environmental Education Centre in Hlatikulu, Boston, the Crowned Crane, wandered in to say hello. Shea O’Connor has for the second year, ‘adopted’ Boston by contributing towards her keep at the centre. While school mates have met Boston before, it was the first time for these 32 learners. They were astonished at how beautiful she was, how soft the black feathers on her head were and enjoyed stroking her crown.
Welile Duda, Samkelo Sikhosana, Nicholas Nxumalo (principal) accepted the certificate on behalf of the school. Welile commented “I always heard the others at school talking about Boston. Now I know her too.” Sibo Dlamini, Entabeni activity leader, thanked the school for adopting her, saying “She will lead a great, healthy life now. We appreciate your enthusiasm and all you have done for the environment.”
The intention of the weekend, organised by Midlands Conservancies Forum was to build a really strong team of environmental activists for this school who have participated in the WESSA Eco-Schools programme for the past 10 years, supported by the Midlands Meander Education Project. Activities included solving puzzles, working together as a team on the challenging obstacle course, debates and discussions about environmental issues. Zafika Yengo commented “The staff at Entabeni really love their jobs, they are patient and have so much knowledge. It was adventurous and educational all at once!”
Boston is always keen for a walk, so joined the group as they headed off to explore the vleis, streams and hills of Hlatikulu. Around the roaring campfire in the evening there was plenty of celebration of days well spent. Geoff Ntshangase, who has been an environmental activity leader at Entabeni for many years, commented “These kids were wonderful, so respectful and asked lots of questions. They made our job easy. I appreciate that.”
Before leaving, everyone had an opportunity to be alone for 30 minutes to reflect on the weekend. “It was great to escape from phones, TV and polluted air for a while.” someone said quietly.
Principal of Shea O’Connor, Nicholas Nxumalo, was very impressed. “The learners have grown and shown real maturity. This programme was accessible and relevant, with very professional facilitators. We are proud to be associated with Entabeni and Boston. We are not only visitors; we are part of the Entabeni family now.”
Thank you to Entabeni for their generous contribution to making this trip possible and to N3TC for funding the MCF Environmental Learning and Leadership Programme.