It is wonderful to see how children begin to form a group and to trust and accept the facilitators. Once the initial shyness has worn off, of course, it gets more difficult to command attention – but these workshops are in school holidays and are voluntary. Part of what we want to achieve is building confidence and another aim is to give children a safe place to play and just be.
On Day Three, we once again had input from archaeologists Katharine Kyriacou and Ross Lyall-Jennings who took the children through the importance – and skill – of the plant gatherers in hunter-gatherer communities. By the time they arrived, books and stories had been dealt with and the sun had burned off the fog of a very cold morning (ice on the cars overnight). We went out into the garden to look for food plants and medicinal herbs. Surprisingly, the children again knew much more than we expected about what was useful in their environment. They were searching in the garden of the Clanwilliam Living Landscape project, which has a collection of such plants, but they were instantly able to recognize plants they had been shown by community members.
The next activity involved some thought about conservation and what we wish our grandchildren might like to know about us. Letters to grandchildren were written and sealed in a Time capsule, which was buried in the garden.
Before lunch we concentrated on the maps of the valley and the dam, discussing how rivers formed, lakes and dams were made – and how the raising of the dam wall will affect the community of Clanwilliam and the landscape of the valley. Quiet reading time preceeded Liezels’s usual excellent lunch.
After lunch we gathered on the lawn to work with Nadia on a draft choral verse piece that involved much action as well as laughter. Anele followed this by offering an alternative (musical) version. This is still a work in progress, with the aim of a performance at the SAHeritage Symposium in Clanwilliam in October.
Day Four was an optional day for finishing projects, tying up loose ends and reading any books we still needed to finish. Almost everybody came back, including the small ones who had asked for a special workshop and then (somehow) infiltrated the big workshop. Apologies had come from some who had to go off ith parents to Cape Town or Vredendal.
The pace was relaxed.with very necessary warm-up exercises on the lawn, music books and stories in the hall and then San stories and drawing with chalk outside before a farewell in the hall.
The facillitators cleared the books, took a deep breath and went for pizzas. It seemed very strange to be without the children.
(PGS Heritage) – Katharine Kyriacou, Cuan Hahndiek, Ross Lyall-Jennings
CBN Team: Lesley Beake, Rosemary Bangham, Anele Mhlahlo, Emily Hallinan and Nadia Woodward.
We could not achieve as much in Clanwilliam without the serious input from Clanwilliam Library, particularly Lizel Koopman, Emiline Jacobs and Asanda Lobse. They not only register the children and drum up support, they also enter enthusiastically into every activity and are the life and soul of the party.
Thanks: This workshop was part of the Clanwilliam Dam Community Project (CDCP) in association with Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project, PGS Heritage and Clanwilliam Municipality, particularly their Library. Sponsorship for the workshops comes from the Department of Water and Sanitation as part of its Social responsibility programme associated with the raising of the Clanwilliam Dam wall.
Special thanks for local input:
Clanwilliam Superspar gave us a generous discount on groceries for feeding the children (a total of 75 meals were provided for the children, as well as snack breakfasts), and cash donations from Heather and Donald McAllister and an anonymous donor, were greatly appreciated. Thank you also to Liezel Hofman for being an excellent caterer for us all, as ever.
Thank you all for being part of the project.