Monday, February 1, 2010

Children and Mangos oh my!!!










SDARL Class V awoke to another beautiful morning at the Hannah Lodge. The group prepared for a warm day as the temperature was to rise to 106 degrees. We gathered our luggage and boarded the coach for a short drive to Maepa Private School, a local black primary school. This school serves three local villages in the area.

Upon entering the driveway some members of the group were surprised to see the school surrounded by razor wire to keep the children safe. The building and grounds were quite dilapidated, but the children’s joy and excitement impressed the group. We were greeted with singing and dancing as we arrived. The group was addressed by the principal who explained there were 135 students in grades K-7. The school was government supported; the budget for the year was only $7000. With this small amount the school was run for the entire year. The SDARL team brought with them many gifts, the children especially loved the soccer ball! After some teary goodbyes we were off to the Bavarian mango farm.

The class first observed a slideshow that showed the process of growing the mangos from tree to plate. Harvest on the mango farm begins in late December and finishes in March. This period is called the “100 days of madness.” There are over 1500 people employed to harvest and package the fruit from this 5000 acre fruit farm. An alarming issue effecting this farm is the presence of HIV in over 29 percent of the workforce. Management explained that the process could be more mechanized, but with such high umemployment they felt a social responsibility to employ as many as possible.

We concluded the day at the Kapama Lodge with a game drive and a farewell to South Africa supper.