Riversdale: Ha!qua Youth Program
From the outside it looked like there was nothing going on, which made sense since our visit fell during the school holidays. At closer inspection, it was clear that we couldn’t have been more wrong. The hive of activity and range of projects running at Ha!qua Youth Program surprised all of us.
Ha!qua began as a facility focusing on the rehabilitation of three local youth who managed to get on the wrong side of the law in 2000. It is now a creative learning and recreation facility for a broad range of people, including those with troubled backgrounds, those with various levels of ability, or those who simply want to give back to their community. The wheelchair-friendly grounds have chick-rearing facilities, a vegetable garden, composting, a museum commemorating Ha!qua’s long-standing relationship with its Ukrainian supporters, a giant chess board, game rooms, and various spaces for skills and arts including painting, beading, and paper-mâché.
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Barrydale: Barrydale Hand Weavers
Just on the other side of the Tradouw Pass, we found the Barrydale Hand Weavers hard at work.
Using traditional looms they create beautiful cotton products such as bath mats, tea towels, and clothing. It was fascinating to watch the weavers and to see how much work and time goes into producing these top quality, durable goods.
Barrydale: Net vir Pret
Net vir Pret – or “just for fun” – is also in Barrydale. Their local youth leaders are among the team that coordinates after-school and holiday activities for children from the surrounding farms. They invited us to judge their song and dance productions that they had been working on. Themes included the talents of youth everywhere and from all backgrounds, learning about animals and nature, and the importance of paying attention at school. It was tough to choose, but our favourite was about ensuring that young girls are protected from potential abusers. We were made to feel so welcome and everyone sang “Goodbye My Friends” as we departed.
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Swellendam: Cooper Street Project
We went back over the Tradouw Pass to Swellendam and popped in to see the Cooper Street Project on the edge of town. Children from homes where they might not get a meal each day can find refuge, a hot meal, and some fun activities here. On this particular day, some of the older children were learning to knit, while the younger ones were busy creating decorative wreaths or colouring.
The EXPEDITION Project team would like to thank The Red Coffee Pot in Calitzdorp, Albert Manor, The Ladi B&B, and Andri’s Cafe in Ladismith, De Doornkraal Historic Country House and De Wingerdt Restaurant in Riversdale, Grootvaderbosch Nature Reserve, Tradouw Guesthouse in Barrydale, and Mattsens Restaurant and Jan Harmsgat Country House in the Swellendam area for their generous support along the way.
Albert Manor, Ladismith
Grootvaderbosch Nature Reserve, near Heidelberg
Jan Harmsgat Country House, near Swellendam
Mattsens Restaurant, Swellendam
Tradouw Guesthouse, Barrydale