The story of Good Hope (as told by Gabbi Cook)

Flower Valley Conservation Trust’s Gabbi Cook joined the Good Hope Early Learning Centre children and staff, the community and partners at the launch of the second phase of the centre on Friday, 12 July 2019.

 

HERE IS GABBI’S INTRODUCTORY TALK AT THE EVENT:

“The story of Good Hope started long before there was a Masakhane. It started when the great grandfathers and -mothers, grandfathers and -mothers and fathers and mothers of these children stood together toward equity and justice in South Africa. It is because of them and many others around the world that we can stand here now, in freedom and dignity. It is those people I firstly want to honour today.

Some facts:

• In 2017 there were 19.6 million children in South Africa with approximately 56.5 million people living in South Africa. That makes 35% children.
• 14% of these children are orphans.
• 21% do not live with their biological parents.
• 0.3% live in child only households.
• 65% live below the upper band poverty line where per capita income is below R1138,00 per month.
• 30% live in households where no adults are employed.

The story of Good Hope lives in the lives of the people who walked this road together: parents, teachers, the community, the municipality, NGOs such as Enlighten Education Trust and Flower Valley, many individuals and group organisations that made initial donations of funds and resources. 

This is a story of the heart, often when we see only with our head, things seems impossible. But when we look and see with our hearts, things become possible.  

Those of us that started Good Hope chose to see with our hearts… when I see with my heart I see: 

  • Children playing freely and safely, drinking fresh water that has found its way down through our pristine Fynbos landscapes toward the sea.
  • Neighbourhoods and towns where the only need for a fence is to keep the animals in. 
  • A world where the value of a grandmother’s song is more valuable than a basket of gold. 
  • A world where our stories speak of our interconnectivity and interbeing. 
  • A world where teachers and caregivers as masters of their “craft” and their powerful contribution is recognised. 
  • A world where the unfolding fullness of each individual is nurtured and we are all mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters to our children. 

Good Hope is a place where the heart can see a world like this starting to emerge. A place of unity, equity and care. This is our hope – our “good“ hope, active and alive in the service of these amazing women and contributors, in service to these young children.

In 2013 in the back streets of Masakhane. Lingiswa Nyandeni cared for 15 young children at her own shack based 3x 3 metre building, calling it Good Hope. It was here that Flower Valley and the Department of Social Development joined hands with Lingiswa and 6 other such centres to address the needs of young children in Masakhane. With the support of the Overstrand Municipality and extensive community consultation,  Good Hope was the only site that chose to move to a municipal building and join hands to get to where we are now. From here many individuals and organisations came together to realise the dream of a place for healthy, happy children to receive support to grow to their full potential.

A teacher of Good Hope once said to me: “These children and like my own children, I care for them as they are my own.” It is this spirit that brought us to phase two where in 2017 we joined hands with I-Med Vision, The Grootbos Foundation and in 2018 Aqunion, with continued support from the OSM. Building and growing a dream takes the combined effort of many. The challenges of our world cannot be met alone, we simple need to stand together, recognising that each and every contribution is equally valuable and important, and that ultimately we are not separate, but one people.  

This is a community-based school. It is the fruit of many people’s hard work and dedication, it is an expression of kindness and care but is also an expression of the intrinsic right of a young child to the best possible start in life.”  

Flower Valley Conservation Trust’s Gabbi Cook joined the Good Hope Early Learning Centre children and staff, the community and partners at the launch of the second phase of centre on Friday, 12 July 2019.

 

HERE IS GABBI’S INTRODUCTORY TALK AT THE EVENT:

“The story of Good Hope started long before there was a Masakhane. It started when the great grandfathers and -mothers , grandfathers and -mothers and fathers and mothers of these children stood together toward equity and justice in South Africa. It is because of them and many others around the world that we can stand here now, in freedom and dignity. It is those people I firstly want to honour today.

Some facts:

• In 2017 there where 19.6 million children in South Africa with approximately 56.5 million people living in South Africa. That makes 35% children.
• 14% of these children are orphans.
• 21% do not live with their biological parents.
• 0.3% live in child only households.
• 65% live below the upper band poverty line where per capita income is below R1138,00 per month.
• 30% live in households where no adults are employed.

The story of Good Hope lives in the lives of the people who walked this road together: parents, teachers, the community, the municipality, teachers, NGOs such as Enlighten Education Trust and Flower Valley and many individual and group organisations that made initial donations of funds and resources. 

This is a story of the heart, often when we see only with our head things seems impossible but when we look and see with our hearts , things become possible.  

Those of us that started Good Hope chose to see with our hearts… when I see with my heart I see: 

  • Children playing freely and safely, drinking fresh water that has found its way down through our pristine Fynbos landscapes toward the sea.
  • Neighbourhoods and towns where the only need for a fence is to keep the animals in. 
  • A world where the value of a grandmother’s song is more valuable than a basket of gold. 
  • A world where our stories speak of our interconnectivity and interbeing. 
  • A world where teachers and caregivers as masters of their “craft” and their powerful  contribution  is recognised. 
  • A world where the unfolding fullness of each individual is nurtured and we are all mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters to our children. 

Good Hope is a place where the heart can see a world like this starting to emerge. A place of unity equity and care. This is our hope – our “good “ hope, active and alive in the service of these amazing women and contributors,  in service to these young children.

In 2013 in the back streets of Masakhane. Lingiswa Nyandeni cared for 15 young children at her own shack based 3x 3 metre building, calling it Good Hope. It was here that Flower Valley and the Department of Social Development joined hands with Lingiswa and 6 other such centres to address the needs of young children in Masakhane. With the support of the Overstrand Municipality and extensive community consultation,  Good Hope was the only site that chose to move to a municipal building and join hands to get to where we are now. From here many individuals and organisations came together to realise the dream of a place for healthy, happy children to receive support to grow to their full potential.

A teacher of Good Hope once said to me: “These children and like my own children, I care for them as they are my own.” It is this spirit that brought us to phase two where in 2017 we joined hands with I-Med Vision, The Grootbos Foundation and in 2018 Aqunion, with continued support from the OSM. Building and growing a dream takes the combined effort of many. The challenges of our world cannot be met alone, we simple need to stand together, recognising that each and every contribution is equally valuable and important, and that ultimately we are not separate, but one people.  

This is a community-based school. It is the fruit of many people’s hard work and dedication, it is an expression of kindness and care but is also an expression of the intrinsic right of a young child to the best possible start in life.”  

Parents: How you can support your child’s early development

By Kieran Whitley

There are many different toys, props and activities that you can use to aid your child’s development. 

But the most important aspect of development is for you to work and understand YOUR child’s individual and unique needs.

Healthy development is successfully working with your child, at their own pace, allowing them to show you what they require. There is so much information available in this day and age.

But never forget that the most important source you need to listen to is your own child. And the most important thing that you can give your child is your time, your full attention and your love. 

TUMMY TIME: AN ESSENTIAL ACTIVITY FOR YOU AND YOUR BABY

Tummy time helps to strengthen your child’s head, neck and upper arm muscles. It also helps to build the strength and coordination needed for rolling over, crawling, reaching, and playing (this is vital as your child spends so much time on his or her back).

You can start with tummy time from new-born (provided there have been no complications with birth) and you can do this for 1 – 3 minutes, responding to your child’s needs and reactions. 

SO WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO? 

Lie with your baby on the floor, with a towel rolled under their chest and arms for support. Tummy time can also be done by sitting down in a reclined position and holding your baby over your chest/shoulder with their face close to yours. As the baby gains more strength, you can go further down into a reclining position.

As the baby gets a bit older you can also start doing tummy time by placing the child over your lap. Make sure tummy time is only done when your child is awake and under full supervision. 

Flower Valley’s role: 

Flower Valley Conservation Trust is putting emphasis on childhood development and looking at working with children from in utero (through our Early Childhood Development Home Based Programme) through to 5 years.

We are very appreciative to Regina Broenner from the Creative Skills Factory. They are running a series of workshops with the Flower Valley teachers to help observe and work with the developmental milestones and the unique needs of each child.

Flower Valley’s latest news

Flower Valley News

For the last 16 years, I’ve been part of the Flower Valley Conservation Trust team. But last week, for the first time, I addressed our Flower Valley Trustees and staff as Acting Executive Director.

Yes, I was a little nervous at the thought (and grateful for the opportunity at the same time). But then this happened, which really changed everything for me.

As I prepared for my presentation, I reflected on the workings of
Flower Valley as a non-profit organisation over the last 16 years. It was a truly inspiring moment. Here’s what I found:

  • Our total conservation footprint stretches over 80,000 hectares of natural Fynbos landscapes in the Cape Floral Kingdom. (Our indicators include cleared hectares of invasive species and verified hectares of good practices for wild fynbos harvesting.)
  • This was made possible through the participation of 480 local people working as part of independent small enterprises.
  • And in our Early Childhood Development Programme, our home-based and centre-based work offers ECD support to local communities that in total reach 922 children and 60 practitioners.

These stats really showed me something: First, we have focused programmes that are able to deliver on their objectives through a dedicated and hardworking team, who I’m fortunate to work with. Also, our partnerships are VITAL to our continued success.

And finally, now in our 20th year, we’re stronger and even more resilient. We therefore remain committed to our pursuit towards a Fynbos-filled future for life and livelihoods.

Get our latest news here.

Kind regards,

Roger Bailey
Executive Director: Flower Valley Conservation Trust

 

Bringing the Gansbaai community together for young children

The Gansbaai community is getting involved in Early Childhood Development (ECD) this Mandela Day. 

 

Various events are taking place on Thursday, 18 July, at ECD sites that are part of the Flower Valley Early Childhood Development Programme. These include: 

1. STORY-TELLING, SOUP AND FLOWERS: FLOWER VALLEY SAYS ‘THANK YOU’

Flower Valley’s team will serve soup and tell a story at an informal ECD site in Masakhane. We will also be gifting a sustainably-harvested Fynbos bouquet to acknowledge and thank 25 ECD practitioners for their wonderful work with young children.

2: NEW SHELVES AT DOLFYNTJIES: GANSBAAI TOURISM’S SUPPORT

Gansbaai Tourism are encouraging their members to support the Dolfyntjies ECD Centre in Eluxolweni, Pearly Beach. The team will put up shelves for resource storage and donate learning support resources.

3: WINDOW BLINDS FOR DOLFYNTJIES: A GRANDMOTHER GETS INVOLVED

A grandmother living in Pearly Beach, Erna Struwig, is also supporting Dolfyntjies. She has arranged for blinds to be installed at the Dolfyntjies ECD Centre.

4: PLANTING VEGGIES, PAINTING AND POTJIEKOS: A DAY AT GROOTBOS FOUNDATION COMMUNITY FARM 

The Good Hope ECD Centre will enjoy a farm outing to Grootbos Foundation Community Farm, hosted by the Grootbos Foundation. Here the young children will plant veggies, learn about plant propagation and paint outdoor equipment. They’ll end the day enjoying a Potjiekos meal beside a fire.

5: LEARNING SUPPORT RESOURCES: AQUNION’S DONATION

The Good Hope and Takalane ECD Centres will benefit through a donation of learning support materials and equipment from Aqunion. Aqunion, an abalone company in Gansbaai, are key stakeholders of the Good Hope Centre.  

The Flower Valley ECD Programme works with 27 centres across the Overstrand Municipality. The programme reaches 920 children, 60 ECD practitioners, 20 managers and a number of Management Committees. 

Flower Valley works to improve the quality of and access to ECD services, for communities in the Overstrand. We do this through partnerships with community, government and NGOs. 

Our support services include: site registration, management and governance, resource access, partnership development and ECD practitioners’ training and mentorship.

From the Flower Valley team, a huge thank you to all the partners and donors who are supporting ECD sites and centres this Mandela Day.

Picking Fynbos responsibly: A journey of improvement

Building capacity of Fynbos harvesters is at the heart of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme.

We have been revisiting some of our key members to refresh their sustainable harvesting practices and teach them some of the new methods and tools we have developed recently.

This process is to ensure that members are continuously improving and kept up to date with the latest research.

In the past two weeks, we’ve provided capacity building to 30 Fynbos harvesters working in natural Fynbos landscapes.

These harvesters pick Fynbos for Lourens Boerdery – a packshed that is a long-time member and supporter of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme.

Our focus for capacity building is on:

 

  • How to pick Fynbos responsibly (as per the Code of Best Practice);
  • And how to monitor harvesting practices (using the i-Fynbos app).

THE AIM IS TO TRAIN AND WORK WITH AROUND 100 FYNBOS HARVESTERS ACROSS THE CAPE FLORAL KINGDOM.

 

It’s part of our support to members of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme.

This year alone, Flower Valley’s footprint will stretch across 75,000 hectares of natural Fynbos landscapes through the programme.

This training is supported by the University of Newcastle and the University of Durham.

 

Give 67 minutes to protect Fynbos (while enjoying a hike)

What are you doing for your 67 minutes this Mandela Day? Here’s one idea: Join the Southern Overberg Botanical Society, as they enjoy a hike on our Flower Valley Farm – cutting down small invasive alien plants as they walk. 

 

Mandela Day is on Thursday, 18 July. The combined Flower Valley Conservation Trust and Southern Overberg BotSoc event takes place in the late morning, from 10am. It will take hikers through some of the most unique, special and pretty Fynbos landscapes. 

Here’s the programme:

  • Following a welcome and a chat about invasive species, you’ll receive a short induction on clearing alien species in field.
  • Then your 67 minutes start, clearing invasive species while walking through our Fynbos.
  • Join us for tea and coffee afterwards.
  • Or bring your own picnic and enjoy our Fynbos for the rest of the day.

THE START OF SOMETHING BIGGER

The combined Mandela Day event forms part of a bigger collaboration between Flower Valley and the Southern Overberg BotSoc. This will see Flower Valley Farm become a ‘garden’ of the branch, allowing branch members free access to the farm (non-members currently pay R50 to hike on the farm).

For more information on the Mandela Day event on Flower Valley Farm, or to join and give 67 minutes of your time to conservation, email: mitch@flowervalley.co.za by Tuesday, 16 July.  

Unati’s role: A makeover for our gardens

The gardens at Flower Valley’s former pre-school are about to receive a makeover.

The site will be used to bring pre-school children in touch with nature. And the job of transforming and maintaining the gardens falls to a new Flower Valley recruit, Unati Siyotula. 

Unati completed her National Diploma in Horticulture at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, in 2017. She completed in-service training at a nursery in George, and at the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens. In 2017 she also received full-time employment at the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens as a gardening assistant. Here she was responsible for maintenance, propagation and leading tours. 

Unati says she sees her new role at Flower Valley as a challenge, and as an opportunity to grow. “I came from a small garden, and when I drove into Flower Valley Farm, I thought: ‘Wow’.” 

We welcome Unati to the team – and look forward to seeing how the gardens are transformed. 

New Assistant Farm Manager for Flower Valley

Flower Valley Farm welcomes a new assistant farm manager to the team – Mitch Afrika.

Mitch completed his Bachelor of Sciences in Conservation Ecology (NQF level equivalent to honours) at Stellenbosch University. He completed the Leadership for change and Graduate programme through the Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Student Leadership Development.

Originally from Robertson, Mitch made his move to the Overberg from Franschhoek – where he worked as the Environmental intern at Boschendal Wine Estate. Here his responsibilities included alien clearing management, habitat protection, trail maintenance and compost making.  

Mitch brings an extra set of skills to Flower Valley Farm: his love for teaching.

He has worked closely with the Maties Community Service at Stellenbosch University (as an Eendrag Community Service member), to teach basic skills to primary and high school learners. He is also a keen photographer.

Mitch undertakes a number of roles on Flower Valley Farm, including support in managing the farm, maintaining trails, and hosting tourists on the farm.

We’re very excited to have Mitch on the team and wish him only the best with his new journey.

Come for a fynbos-filled hike on Flower Valley Farm and Mitch would love to welcome you! 

4 Pollinator-friendly tips (for Endangered Species Day)

Pollinators are in the headlines right now – for all the WRONG reasons.

Insects in particular face a challenging future. Half a million insect species face extinction (this is according to new research by 500 of the world’s top scientists, presented by the United Nations).

For World Endangered Species Day, we’re putting the spotlight on pollinators. How? We took to the single-track paths on Flower Valley Farm, in search of pollinators (and other flying creatures).

Because these birds, insects and critters provide the base of many of the world’s ecosystems (and have been for the past 400 million years). And if these systems stop working, we’re in trouble. (For example, the UN report notes that 75% of food crops rely on animal pollination.)

Both these bird species are endemic to Fynbos. That makes this habitat essential for their survival.

(And the most interesting: A recent study on Flower Valley Farm found these sunbirds and sugarbirds hardly ever bicker over territories.)

Fresh flies: These flies feed on mostly dung and dead mammals. But some Fynbos plants, like Ceratocaryum argenteum, have seeds with a specific scent. And this scent deceives Fresh flies (of the Sarcophagidae family) to settle on the seeds.

The Orange breasted sunbird (Anthobaphes violacea): These Fynbos pollinators were extremely active (this one was actually taking a glorious bath). They were feeding mostly on the flowering Erica species. They’re about to head into breeding season.

Honeybee: You couldn’t miss the buzzing sound on your adopted patch. The Honeybees were mostly drawn to the Erica williamsiorum (this species is Vulnerable and flowering now). Because they forage on nectar and pollen, they’re essential pollinators. 

The Cape sugarbird (Promerops cafer): We didn’t get any great photos during our Adopt a Hectare feedback (this is an old picture on flowering Pincushions). But they frequently flitted across our path. They usually feed on the nectar of Mimetes (cucullatus).

Of course we saw loads more flying creatures during our feedback, like the Cape Autumn Widow (Dira Clytus Clytus) and a Leaf Beetle (Galerucinae). 

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN: WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BE PART OF THE CHANGE? HERE ARE 4 TIPS:

 

1. Plant indigenous bee-friendly plants in your garden, supplying nectar and pollen for butterflies, bees and birds in your area. 

2. Create a small water bath in your garden, add some rocks to it ensuring the smaller insects don’t drown. 

3. Support local by buying raw honey from trusted beekeepers. 

4. Educate yourself and those around you on these endangered species, so that you can become more aware and maybe help in a situation going forward. 

Flower Valley’s latest news

Flower Valley News

Sixteen years: That’s how long this wonderful Flower Valley journey has been for me. From CapeNature, to WWF-South Africa, and finally, to have had these years with Flower Valley Conservation Trust – I’ve enjoyed every moment working to protect our natural world.

From 1 June, my role at Flower Valley will be changing. And Roger Bailey (our current Operations Director) takes over as Acting Executive Director. 

My focus now shifts to Fundraising & Partnership Development. As a public benefit organisation, we depend on both.

We can ONLY protect Fynbos landscapes and livelihoods in South Africa by working with partners like you. 

Right now, one partnership we urgently need is one that will ensure the doors of the only pre-school in Eluxolweni, Pearly Beach, stay open. This Early Childhood Development Centre (“Dolfyntjies”) cares for 28 children aged 3 to 5. They only have 2 months before their funding runs dry.

Can you help? All the info is here.

Of course I’m still part of the Flower Valley team but it remains for me to say thank you for the 16 amazing years that I’ve had as Executive Director with the privilege of working with you. I look forward to continuing to do so in my new role.

Get our latest news here.

Kind regards,

Lesley