Haberdashers UK is a proud supporter of the Umzi Wethu Training Academy of Wilderness Foundation Africa.
Every year, Haberdashers UK funds a group of students to visit South Africa after they have completed their last year of school. The students visit for a period of 2 weeks, where they get to experience our beautiful country and do some voluntary work. As part of their visit, they attend a 5 day wilderness trail in the Imfolozi Game Reserve, Kwazulu Natal. Haberdashers kindly sponsor a few of Wilderness Foundation Africa’s Umzi Wethu students to join them on trail each year.
In order to select the Umzi Wethu students who will attend this wilderness trail, our full group of students are asked to write a motivational essay on why they should be given the opportunity to go on the 5 day trail.
The essay topic was based on the Umzi Wethu students’ past experiences on the Pride(1 day) and Imbewu (3 day) trails. These trails, which are a prerequisite in the selection process to be part of the Umzi Wethu programme, provide an entry level introduction to environmental education and the healing power of nature.
We had some very inspirational stories and would like to share a few of the winning entries with you:
My experience on the Pride and Imbewu Trail and why I would like to be chosen to go to Durban:
A wilderness experience is usually thought of as a tough time in which the pleasant things of life are unable to be enjoyed or they may be absent altogether, but I realised nature itself and the positive smell of fresh air opens up your mind and you feel relieved.
Being on a trail means you are going to be disconnected to your normal life. This means not having your cellphone, no TV, no electricity and sleeping outside. Experiencing the wilderness helps you to find the real you. I was struggling with myself and had things that were holding my life until I went on a trail. When we got there we even had games that we did (night watch and solitaire) whereby you sit on your own in the dark. I had things that were holding my life back - the loss of both my parents was the worst experience that nearly destroyed my life because I had to stand on my own and be the breadwinner to my family because I was the only man left in the family.
Being in the wilderness and connecting myself with nature has taken all these things away. I started to build confidence in myself. It healed me in a way that I was even praying and connecting to God. Spiritually I started to get energy and I was relieved.
I believe that I need to go on trail again so that I can experience better things, because there are things that are still holding me and I believe the only way of getting them away from me, is connecting to nature. So this will be the best opportunity for me to go on a bigger trail.
Written by Mngamlezo Nokhonya
The township was where I was born and grew up. Urban life is the only place I knew, with its concrete forests, fumes and smog from factories and cars.
I was excited when we were told we will go on a camp. I didn’t know what to expect but I was excited by a change of scenery.
Wow! In the wild for a whole weekend, me stuck in Addo. Sleeping outside with mother earth as your sleeping bag, the stars as your lamp and light during the dark nights - searching your inner self. For the first time I had time to keep myself company and to ask myself questions about who I am. I came to know about nature in its barest form where there was only fresh air, no pollution.
I left as someone who was not complete. The relationship and appreciation of found animals, trees and wind changed me to understand the wholeness of wilderness life and the balance we need in our lives.
I’m looking forward to another hiking outing so that I can lose myself in nature. I never thought I would love that.
This trip going to Durban on an aeroplane, would be the greatest highlight of my life, as I have never been in Durban or been on an aeroplane before. It would be an opportunity of a lifetime.
written by Fundiswa Tokwe
The opportunity of going to Durban would be the best experience for me and it will be the first time going to another province.
During the previous trail at Umzi Wethu I learnt a lot of things I never thought I would get the opportunity to learn. Our tour guide taught us about different types of plants and why they are important. I didn’t know that plants had its own way of communicating to each other and didn’t realise that human beings can’t live without nature. I also learnt about different sounds animals make and are able to identify a footstep of an animal.
To me a trail is not just a camp but that you are there to learn and give back. During the time of the trail it was when I started to learn more about myself and how to treat others and how to behave.
After the trail, I realised so many things and it has changed me. I used to be shy and always angry but on trail I learnt that as a person you must be able to learn from others and communicate well, take your differences away and always do your best in everything.
It was my first time experiencing a trail and I really enjoyed it and learnt alot. I realised that every chance you get you must use it.
written by Nompumezo Mbunge