A key point of the Youth Development Programme of Wilderness Foundation Africa is to build a programme with varying degrees of impact. We begin working with large numbers of youth through the Pride and Imbewu project which reaches thousands of disadvantaged scholars per year. These trails provide an entry level introduction to environmental education and the healing power of nature; ‘planting the seed’ for a passion for wildlife and wilderness.
Below is a testimonial from a learner who attended an Imbewu trail earlier this year.
“My name is Nikita Blouw, I am 16 years old and I was born in Cape Town then moved to Port Elizabeth in 2015. I am currently staying with my aunt. I am in grade 10 at Ndzondelelo Senior Secondary School in Zwide Location.
My mother passed away when I was 13 and I’ve never had a relationship with my father. This was the most difficult time of my life- I was sad, hurt, bitter, and full of anger. I desperately needed a father’s love and he did nothing for me. I hated him so much for that. I started hanging around with the wrong crowd. I was smoking weed, drinking alcohol and disrespecting elders. I was very mean to my aunt and stole from her.
In May 2016, I was one of the students that was selected to participate in the Imbewu Trail at Woody Cape Nature Reserve.I had mixed emotions about going on the Imbewu trail because I have never camped outside before, especially since I was camping together with seven of my peers. On the day of arrival, we were introduced to one of the SANParks rangers, Mr Teyise. We had lunch and then given camping equipment and started hiking. On the way, we did many activities and learnt about the importance of nature and animals.
My life changed when I did the “Solitaire” on Saturday night. We were separated and each person had to stand in the dark for at least an hour by themselves. Everything was okay and I could hear animal sounds. While I was in the dark alone, I started thinking about everything I went through in my life and I felt lonely - the same way I felt on the day when my mother passed away. I started becoming emotional and scared. I started remembering my mother’s teacher as if she was right next to me. I heard footstep sounds coming from a distance and saw that it was Ntobeko and ranger Teyise coming to fetch me.
At the campsite, we then sat around the fire and started to share our experiences we had on solitaire. I shared my story about my past and my social challenges that I am dealing with and I was advised about letting go and about how to find peace. Ntobeko and Mr Teyise really shaped my heart and mind. The trail built my self-esteem. The wilderness helped me to realise that I can leave all my troubles in that peaceful natural place.
Now I have made peace with my Daddy and I am very happy. I spent my December holidays with him and I finally have found peace in my heart.
Thank You Very much Wilderness Foundation for the beautiful camp”.