- It was an early start today… The porridge had just finished cooking and the first children had not yet arrived when we reached Andrew and Margaret’s house in Sea Vista. Although Margaret had everything well under control, we were at least able to finish off the hot bowls with sugar and a bit of milk. Between 60 and 200 children arrive at their home every morning. At first, it was funded out of their own pockets but they have luckily managed to to secure donations and funding from local businesses and individuals as well as the Rotary Club.
Just down the road we found another soup kitchen, this one operated by a woman named Aggie. She also provides early morning porridge for local children, but cooks up some soup in the afternoons too. In fact, when we were there she was even busy putting together food parcels for people who have less than she does. Aggie does a lot, and is remarkably humble about all of it.
The Dune Ridge Country House was our next stop and proved to be a gold mine of information about what is going on in the St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis areas. Esti and Sarah of St Francis Bay Tourism hosted us for breakfast at Dune Ridge and even accompanied us to a few projects. The first was Nomvula’s Knitters Shop where Francis and the knitting team at Nomvula showed us their skills and wares, including some of the 500 doll sweaters they are preparing to fill an order bound for the USA.
We then chatted to Oliver, a retired member of the SA Air Force who now leads the local TS Kromme Sea Cadets unit. At a recent count they had 20 girls and 38 boys taking part in the Sea Cadets classes, which also incorporate life skills training. Confidence, discipline and a positive outlook are among some of the characteristics that Oliver noted in youth who go through the training.
Just across the parking area, we found a shed with a project that none of us had previously heard about. Unathi is one of a team of 5 who repurpose glass bottles into stunning drinking glasses and vases with pewter accents. Challenges for them include obtaining empty bottles as well as getting their finished products to market. Networking this kind of issue is precisely what The EXPEDITION Project hopes will lead to local solutions and partnerships for win-win arrangements. Our ‘guides’ from St Francis Bay Tourism and The Dune Ridge, for example, have already been brainstorming ways in which they can help Unathi and the glasswork team to overcome these obstacles.
After a picnic on the rocks at the Cape St Francis lighthouse, we visited with Trudy and Wilna of the local unit of the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB). Currently they care for about 20 African Jackass and Rock Hopper Penguins, four of which were about to be released into a nearby colony. Although rehabilitation is primarily for penguins, they also get the occasional gannet, cormorant and other various seabirds. If you’re ever in the area, pop by for 15h00 when they do the afternoon pilchard feeding!
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The EXPEDITION Project team would like to thank Esti and Sarah of St Francis Bay Tourism and Dune Ridge Country House, and Sandals Guest House in St Francis Bay, as well as Lyngenfjord House and Cape St Francis Resort in Cape St Francis for their generous support along the way.