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147 LITTLE SMILES ON THE WILD COAST

Day 2-4, written by Wes Badger.

The second day of the journey took us to Sinethemba Youth Development School in Khayalethu on the outskirts of Knysna.


Here we met founding visionary Michael Smith.


The road leading to the school took us in between 2 churches, foreshadowing the emotions we would later feel.


Eleven smiley faces were ready to learn about conservation. After our first teaching experience with LiC at Songo, Emma and I [Wesley] were ready to take on more lesson responsibilities and quickly found our groove.


It was immediately clear that the kids had a great interest in conservation and the natural world and our syllabus was well-received.


We combined all the lessons with team-building activities and games - the highlight of these was seeing the kids race around outside to find insects and birds, and seeing their wide-eyed gazes and happy faces when looking at ants laying eggs on flower stems.


A trend we've been both impressed and surprised by so far is watching how confidence can grow in just an hour.


From shy eyes and sealed lips for the first three-quarters of a lesson to standing up in front of the class explaining why bees are important - rewarding would be one word to explain witnessing this transformation.


Sometimes, all it takes is some eye contact and a welcoming smile - a smile and eyes that say "I'm here to teach, to listen, and to care."


Other times, language proves to be a harder barrier to break. As we were wrapping up, Dean made a final attempt to get through to the quietest boy in the room.


Speaking in a blend of Xhosa and Zulu, this young boy transformed into the chattiest student in the room.


We've been trying to pick up some small phrases because sometimes that's all it takes for a total mindset shift in a child.


An exchange of "nkosi ukubusisa" at the end of each lesson is where we've made a start.


After a heart-felt thank you and goodbye we left Sinethemba feeling hopeful about the future of the school.


Driving back down towards Knysna, I couldn’t help but feel the students had taught me more than I had taught them.


Michael and his team at Sinethemba have managed to create an escape from the harsh reality that surrounds the school grounds.


Khayalethu is within walking distance of Knysna's wealthiest suburbs, however, these two realities are worlds apart.


Stark contrasts in infrastructure have led to high crime rates and severe poverty. Sinethemba offers a second chance to kids who would otherwise be disregarded.


Sinethemba translates directly to 'we have hope,' and hope is exactly what Michael’s vision has created here.

We arrived late afternoon at Mbotyi in the beautiful Transkei. As Dean rightfully pointed out, “You know you’re in the Transkei because of the cows and round houses.”


Oh, and the sea, rolling hills and tropical plants. Here we met with ‘salt of the Earth’ Kathryn, who recently had her introduction to LiC teaching with our team in Malawi for 10 days - what a pleasure to have her joining us for a few sections of our Cape to Kili trip!


Mbotyi Online’s head guide Mudwe - who will be continuing our work in the area - joined us for some training at our modest-yet-full-of-character house overlooking the sea. We had an early night, eager to wake up to a full day of teaching.


Our morning began with a refreshing sunrise dip in the sea, setting the scene for another day of inspiration, teaching and learning.


We had the privilege of teaching 147 students across grades 4 - 6 at Mbotyi SP school.


The classes were split into roughly 50 students each, which presented a new challenge to our commitment to engage with each and every student.


With only an hour allocated to each class, we were proud of our little team and I think our level of improvisation and teamwork despite some of us having met for the first time less than a week ago is a testament to the unifying power of LiC, and to what can be achieved when a group of like-minded humans come together.


Our teaching was enhanced by Mudwe, who helped us streamline the teaching process with a morning practice session and some help with translation. We also need to say a huge thanks to Kathryn here on the translation front.



Despite telling us “my isiXhosa is a but rough at the moment,” she proved to be practically fluent, and it would have been tough to get through to some of the kids without her!


After a productive morning, we enjoyed a well-deserved lunch with Mudwe, during which we reviewed the lessons and discussed how the teaching had gone.


An essential part of this trip will be to reflect on our progress and make improvements as we go along.


In the afternoon, we decided to unwind and headed to the beach for some cricket and a dip in the Indian Ocean. We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to Mbotyi online for hosting us and making this magic happen.


They have been instrumental in supporting our mission, and we look forward to continuing our journey with them.


Stay tuned for more updates on this epic trip as we strive to make a difference in the lives of Africa’s youth and contribute to a brighter future for them.

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