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VESA’s humanitarian and conservation projects aim to provide direct action support to communities in parts of the world overlooked by traditional charities and aid organisations.

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What we’ve achieved

South Africa 2019

Africa Unearthed

Thank you

Please enjoy reading about your groups’ achievements as this will give a more complete picture of the vast amount of assistance that you’ve given to the local community through your generosity. And a special thank you to Damaris, Jake, Cassandra, Frankie, Andrew, and Zine who have been a fantastic team to lead our projects in the 2019 season.

VESA has established a program in association with the local Prince Induna, which identifies families in dire need of help, so we can build houses for them as part of the project.

We started off the construction this season with two separate construction sites.

The Gunede Family

Eddie is the father of the house. Currently, he and his wife and three children live in a one-room house. His two brothers join them on weekends in another shack on their property while they are not working. Their new home will give them a safe house for the entire family to live.

The Jobe Family

The second site is for the Jobe family. On their plot of land there is ten residents living in three one-room houses. One grandmother, her two sons, and six children. In the new house there will be the grandmother, her two daughters, and 4 children. On this site there is also an incomplete house, a project that was started by Senzo, the grandmother’s son, who passed away two years ago. The income holder of the property, Phiwa, hopes to finish this house one day in honour of his brother.

Crocodile Centre

Thank you to all 2019 volunteers for putting in all those hours of cement mixing, digging erecting fences and more at the Croc Centre! We were able to finish three  enclosures to house more crocodile for rehabilitation and release!

A massive shout out to group 5 who got up extra early and left at 7am on the last day to help us finish this project. We have been working on these enclosures for nearly 2 years and to finally see it 90% complete is nothing short of a miracle you guys are AMAZING!

Group 1

Khula Village

Construction - Cassandra, Francesca and Jake

With the first group of the season, we split the construction group in two and managed to finish the concrete foundation in two five room houses down the road from one another.

Each house will consist of a bathroom, kitchen, and three bedrooms for families of seven and twelve. This group smashed out concrete like professionals till the 50kg cement bags needed replacing –  hats off to them, and even got to lay some bricks in the tanks and on the first foundation.

Two foundations done, one ready for floors, and two septic tanks complete, great start to the season.

Site one:

Foundations dug, septic tank hole dug and bricklaying completed ready for installation, concrete foundations completed, brick foundations nearly completed. Floors will go in with group 2 and more cement mixing and bricklaying to build the walls up ready for the roof. Rendered existing house on property for better support and insulation.

Site two:

Foundations dug and concrete completed, septic tank hole dug and bricklaying in progress. Next group will complete foundations and floors and start walls going up.

Emdoneni Cheetah Project

Conservation - Andrew

At the moment we are focusing on maintenance as well as reconstructing a few of the serval houses  and educating the participants about the cats and their conservation issues.

Moonlight and Midnight the cheetah cubs will be released into the wild in a few weeks and three servals and three caracals are due to be released into iSimangaliso this season.

One of the highlights of the week was whilst the volunteers were deconstructing the serval house to replace it with a new one, we found scorpions in among the rubble –  a rare sight for the volunteers and a good reason to be careful where you place your hands in Africa.

Crocodile Centre

Conservation - Damaris

Working on the Six Enclosures Project to be able to rescue and rehabilitate more crocodiles. Also working maintenance of the enclosures.

  • Clear the 6EP area to start to work
  • Build a wall of one pool
  • Improve the floor of another pool
  • Dig the drainage system
  • Paint the juvenile croc enclosure
  • Remove alien plants from breeding croc enclosures
  • Clean the pools of three enclosures

Mama Doris and Khula Village School

Education Zine

The group helped the teachers  with revision before the students start exams.  We helped in marking, teaching maths and English

At Mama Doris’s we are helping the kids to improve their reading skills. We are also doing a collection of the reusable menstrual cups for the girls at high school to improve hygiene and sustainability.

The photo above shows the children at Mama Doris’s receiving warm clothes for the winter thanks to the donation of Katlyn Stollery, a VESA participant from Australia in January. Thanks Katlyn!

Group 2

Khula Village

Construction Cassandra, Francesca and Jake

We got off to a great start.

We started by filling the entire first foundation with dirt in preparation for the concrete floors. Countless wheelbarrows one after another until we got a good system down and knocked out the whole house, day two we finished the foundation on house two.

We have started a compost and completed and concrete and brick platform for Eddie (the head of the family) to use to sort recyclable materials which he sells on. We went through a record number of cement bags and got both floors done in just one day each, despite hot weather. The guys never stopped til the job was done. A couple of people enjoyed the construction so much they wanted to come back for extra days dedicated to building.

Over the past two weeks we had some volunteers drawing photos, and comparing art designs with the kids at Eddies house. This was done at the end of the work day while waiting for the bus home. It was humbling to see such a connection after a hard day of work! This group worked incredibly hard, running with the wheelbarrows to get concrete to the builders, and transferring sand to level out the house!

  • Foundations at site 2 finished.
  • Floors at both finished.
  • Incinerators at both finished.
  • Recycling platform at site 1 finished.
  • Rendering existing structure finished.
  • Compost on site 1 dug out.
  • Walls on site 1 started going up.

Emdoneni Cheetah Project

Conservation Andrew

We are currently waiting for permits to create a new wilding camp, so we are focusing mainly on education about the cats and their conservation as well as some maintenance around the center.

Three servals and one  caracal were released into the wild

Thanks to you guys we were able to reconstruct Benny and Spotty (the servals) shelter to allow them a little more privacy! We were able to remove all of the debris from Cassidy’s enclosure and get rid of the invasive plants around the back of autumn the cheetahs’ enclosure to prevent her from getting sick from the berries!

Furthermore we talk about the issues of social media accidentally promoting unethical wildlife tourism such as petting lion cubs in South Africa which is part of the hunting industry and why it is so important to do research into wildlife attractions as many places are exploiting the word ecotourism and sanctuary and many tourists are more concerned about instagram likes than the ethical welfare of animals.

Crocodile Centre

Conservation Damaris

We are still working at the Six Enclosure Project. This week we finished completely one of the pools and the drainage system.

We were able to secure the foundations around the drainage hole, fit in the poles and a tunnel for the third drainage and final drainage pipe! As well as paint the fences and finally finish the first pool for the new enclosures! Without VESA the croc center would not be able to keep up with the maintenance and build the new facilities to rescue and rehabilitate crocodiles nor release the cats into the wild!

Now is possible to fence the enclosures.

  • Finished one of the pools
  • Finished the drainage system
  • Cleared the area
  • Painted the fence of the breeder crocodile enclosure to protect it from rain

Mama Doris and Khula Village School

Education Zine

Visited the school to help the teachers to revise for exams, helping with marking, doing maths and English lessons and improving the reading for the kids at Mama Doris’s.

We painted the kitchen and did a mural at Mama Doris’s and had lots of reading time with the children.

 

Group 3

Khula Village

Construction Cassandra, Francesca and Jake

We stayed on site 1 the whole week and finished building up the walls. Mixed cement wash to brush on instead of rendering, volunteers very much enjoyed the new tactic. Used up every last brick until the arms felt heavy, also scraped and smoothed off excess concrete pieces from walls inside and in prep for the wash.

  • Painting last season site 2, almost complete.
  • Windows and door frames placed
  • Finished the walls on site one and started rendering with cement wash.
  • Builders will put the roof on site one and do doors, floors, windows etc

Emdoneni Cheetah Project

Conservation Andrew

The main major project we are working on at the moment is to remove invasive plants around the cheetah enclosures to stop the cats from getting sick from the berries and to prevent venomous snakes living in the area and entering the cheetah enclosures.

We also focus on the education of the cats learning about their conservation issues and the issues of social media accidentally promoting unethical wildlife tourism.

  • cleaned the caracal waters
  • removed 90% of the invasive bushes around the outside of the cheetah enclosures.

 

Crocodile Centre

Conservation Damaris

Continued the work on the six enclosures project to be able to rescue and rehabilitate more crocodiles.

  • Construction of the fourth new pool
  • Cleaned out three pools
  • Improved the drainage systems

Mama Doris and Khula Village School

Education Zine

We visited the high school and had an information session for forty minutes with the female students and some of the volunteers about feminine health and safety.

  • Read with the young children at Mama Doris’s,
  • Conducted maths and English lessons.
  • Did revision and marking school work as well
  • Introduced the new menstrual cup project at the local high school

Group 4

Khula Village

Construction Cassandra, Francesca and Jake

This week we primarily worked at site 2. We completed building the walls and did a large portion of the pre-render treatment for the walls.

The outside walls have also received part of the first coat of rendering wash. At site one, about 60% of the house has received a first coat of wash.

We had a stand out performance from volunteer Eamonn, who came with his daughter Aoife. He was a one man machine on site, and had his cement mixing technique down to a tee, so we named him honorary foreman and he ran a cement team for most of the day.

We learned this week that one of the daughters works in Saint Lucia at Barraca! She says that she is very excited to be moving into the new home shortly. The kids were on school holidays this week, they hung back behind the volunteers as they rendered, learning new songs as the volunteers sang along with them.

Site one:

  • walls partially rendered

Site two:

  • walls completed start to finish (mixing cement, laying bricks)
  • walls partially rendered
  • walls of another shack on site rendered
  • garbage on site cleaned up

 

Emdoneni Cheetah Project

Conservation Andrew

Currently the permits have not yet come through for the wilding camp so we are still focusing on doing maintenance around the enclosures and education the volunteers about the cats and their conversation issues as well as about ethics tourism with wildlife.

One of the highlights of the week was when we were cleaning the caracals, Diego kept strutting around the enclosure making everyone part like the red sea and sniffing the wheelbarrows of leaves (obviously checking that the volunteers were doing their work).

Crocodile Centre

Conservation Damaris

This group the job was focused on the big 4 enclosures to be able to finish the project at the end of this season.

  • Worked on the base and walls of the last pool.
  • Started to put the poles and the fence around the enclosures.

Mama Doris and Khula Village School

Education Zine

Even though the schools were closed, we continued to help teach the kids in the community (those at Mama Doris’s). We divided the children into two age groups and did different activities.

Also two volunteers (Kevin and Caal) collected donations by getting crazy haircuts so that we are now able to get more chairs and tables, activity books and strong soccer balls for the children who stay with Mama Doris.

  • Reading with the younger kids to improve their skills and English.
  • We also let the kids do some drawings so that we could see their talent and encourage those skills.
  • With the older kids again we did some English, maths and social science which is part of their school subjects.

 

Group 5

Khula Village

Construction - Cassandra, Francesca and Jake

We were under the gun to get both projects finished but we did it!

The volunteers worked very hard with some long days to finish rendering and coproxing both houses while the builders completed all floors doors and windows. It was a really special moment to hand over the keys to Mama at site two with all the volunteers present.

There were quite a few tears from Mama and the volunteers and it was awesome that so many vollies said how they felt the impact they had and felt privileged to be a part of the project.

Carried on with the work that group 4 had achieved:

  • sanded the walls
  • rendered the gaps between bricks
  • applied cement wash
  • finished up with our new coprox look.

The builders had put the roof on the previous week, so this group was the last push to complete the projects before the end of the season and they did amazing.

Emdoneni Cheetah Project

Conservation - Andrew

We focused on issues around the conversation issues of the cats and also how social media can promote unethical wildlife tourism and for people to be careful what they post and do research before visiting some wildlife tourist attractions.

We cleaned serval waters, raked leaves in the enclosures and removed dead branches from the wilding camp.

Crocodile Centre

Conservation - Damaris

We continued work on our big 4 enclosures project for the Crocodile Centre. We worked on in rainy conditions to be able to finish the last day! So proud of all of them

  • Plumbing of all pools.
  • Fencing
  • Repairing a pool made last year

A letter of thanks to VESA and all of our 2019 volunteers

I’d like to extend the words of gratitude to VESA Volunteers and their team leaders, I must say the groups of volunteers that were here worked extremely hard. I don’t know where to start but time keeping, cooperation, dedication, passion and team work was super that’s why the results were this good.

Thanks to the professional builder you hired as well for being able to work co-operatively with the volunteers and understand them.

As I’m speaking, FINALLY the long term project has been finished up. Thank you very much. We looking forward to many more years working together. Looking forward to the next group in November where will be doing more exciting work like collecting Crocodile eggs for incubation and more.

Warm regards

Nompumelelo Ngcobo| Officer in Charge-Croc Centre
EZEMVELO KZN WILDLIFE

Mama Doris and Khula Village School

Education - Zine

The school reopened and we helped out with all the school subjects.

We also visited  Mama Doris with some of the volunteer bringing nappies, baby food and instant porridge for the children to make sure they were well fed.

We managed to buy tables and chairs for Mama Doris through the donations from the previous group as well as two mattresses and sheets.

The volunteers did reading with the kids during lunch break to improve their English. At the school the volunteers helped the students with all their subjects.