A little 'taste' ( excuse the pun) of Africa as we share with you how to cook an African staple food of 'pap'. This is one of the main foods eaten by the Tsonga communities around Nourish Eco Village, and if you come on a Shik Shack tour, or come spend a week or 2 volunteering you will almost certainly have pap for one of the meals. Enjoy!
Read more about Plog-olution on their Facebook or website. Plogolution has been set up to help support fit and happy communities that are dedicated to protecting the environment so we can be proud to hand our planet down to future generations.
Two years ago I had never heard of Plogging - the new environmental craze founded in Sweden and now literally sweeping the planet. Now the activity involving running whilst picking up rubbish has literally changed my life.
The unimaginable scale of plastic production, coupled with an equally mind-boggling littering culture across the globe, has put immense pressure on our beautiful planet. It has never been easier to access disposable items, with convenience taking the lead over environmental responsibility and, unfortunately, it’s Mother Earth that suffers the most. With over 8 million tonnes of rubbish entering our seas and oceans every single year, our waterways and the wildlife that inhabit them are literally choking at the hands of human carelessness and ignorance. However it’s not just marine life in far off locations that are suffering. In my hometown of London, England, wildlife is dying simply because a small but significant part of the population are simply too lazy or just don’t care enough to put their rubbish in the bin. Foxes, Badgers and even the famous Deer of Richmond Park, all mistaking our single use plastic for food which then clogs up their digestive systems. How crazy that something like a bottle of water which takes 5 minutes to drink can sit in the environment for literally hundreds of years!
Something needed to be done to break that cycle, so when co-founder Michelle sent me an article about the latest eco fitness craze we had to give it a try. Our first plog was held in a small corner of London and with both a running and a walking group, in which 16 of us collected over 30 bags of rubbish from the local community. The event was a huge success and with that Plogolution was born. What better way to bring people together to make a difference?
Since our first plog we have held over 50 events across the UK and even as far as The United States , bringing people together of all different ages and backgrounds, and giving them a platform to give back to our planet. We soon realised it was also an amazing platform for people to make new friends - meeting people that they potentially wouldn’t otherwise interact with in everyday life - as well a chance to get active and a different gateway into what can sometimes be an intimidating fitness world. This really was the perfect opportunity for people to improve their minds, bodies and their planet.
The first community plogs brought our attention to one group in particular. The children. At every plog we had such incredibly passionate young children attending with their families. Clearly aggrieved at what old generations were doing to the environment, they were keen to fight back. We soon set up our first Primary school plogging club, with most schools heading out on a weekly basis for just a 20 minute run or walk around their local community in a bid to make it that little bit cleaner. Our aim was to both educate and empower our young people so that they had not only the passion to change the world, but also the platform to do it. In just over a year our now 34 plogging schools have collected a staggering 4,019 plastic bottles, 4,321 cans, 1,495 glass bottles and 41,938 cigarette butts!! Those figures are huge already but just imagine the stats if thousands of schools across the world were plogging just once a week, it’s enough to blow the mind!
With that in mind you can understand our joy when fellow Plogolution team member Phoebe and myself, on a separate conservation/education project, visited Nourish Eco Village back in February 20202. We had heard about the incredible work that Sarah (Nourish founder) and the rest of the amazing team were doing to educate and look after the local community of Sigagule Village on the outskirts of the world famous Kruger National Park. What we weren’t expecting was the world-class display of upcycling that greeted us on arrival. The team used pretty much everything they could in the most creative way in order to leave very little for actual waste. Entire walls made out of Eco Bricks; a herb garden designed with Henieken bottles; and the whole kitchen floor made of bottle caps, to name but a few examples. It really was an environmentalist’s dream.
Sarah set up Nourish as a way of supporting the local community, both educating them and providing a safe haven, mainly for children, living firmly in the grips of poverty in rural South Africa. Connecting these children with nature, and giving them a passion for the environment, empowers them to want to make a difference in the world they live in.
We spent a week at the Nourish Eco Village and we were able to introduce the idea of plogging to the staff there. Unfortunately rain put a holt to the plog we had planned on our visit but our hearts were filled with pride when we received pictures from the Nourish team of Trinity taking the local children out on their first plog with their brand new Plogolution t-shirts. Having met so many inspiring young children on our visit that, thanks to Nourish, have developed a deep passion for the environment, we knew that Plogging would be a perfect fit with everything they do already at Nourish. Not only could they make use of the waste they would create but they could actively start collecting the huge amount of waste residing in the South African countryside and making use of that too.
In rural South Africa, as well as many poorer parts of the world it is not simply a case of mindless littering. These communities often have no access to waste collection, something that we in the developed world take for granted. For one reason or another these people have been left on their own to deal with their ever-growing waste problem. In response to this, Nourish have created an ingenuous and successful scheme in which local families within the community can exchange bags of recycling, based on weight, for credit to put towards their children’s uniform and school-related costs. Wider initiative schemes have also been introduced to the pupils who access Nourish, with them being able to trade in bags of recycling in exchange for their own school-related equipment.
The Corona outbreak has inevitably the plans for future plogs at Nourish on hiatus. However, the amazing Trinity - staff member at Nourish - is looking forward to getting plenty more of the local children plogging and making a difference. Seeing the photos of so many smiling young faces with rubbish bags in hand, warmed our hearts and filled us with hope that we can turn things around.
Our planet is struggling under the pressure of human activity, but if we can empower and inspire the next generation to want to make a difference, and give them the tools to do the job, then they can go a long way in turning around the mess that previous generations have caused. We really can’t wait to see what Nourish can do and of course visit again once we have returned to some form of normality. Until then we continue to look on in complete admiration as Sarah and the team do their best to look after the community with food parcels and on-going support.
Understanding the Madness
It’s hard to imagine what must go through the mind of a poacher when we see the image of a
defenceless Rhino with it’s horn savagely hacked off. When the chopper I was in flew over the
rotting corpses of three innocent beasts within a few miles of each other, all killed within the
previous three days, it’s hard for even the most empathic of people to feel sorry for those behind
this slaughter. However the grimness of these horrific crimes stretches much further than the
seemingly senseless murder of these animals in National Parks and private reserves all across Africa.
Just for a minute put yourself in this situation, a young man living in rural South Africa on the edge of
Kruger National Park. Three young children to tend for but the socio economic situation in the
country means that jobs are few and far between, especially in the countryside. There’s no
electricity and very little running water and you can’t afford the uniform needed to send your kids to
school. What do you do? The dire hopelessness is crippling but then someone offers you a way out,
all you have to do is sneak into Kruger and kill a Rhino. Despite your village sitting on the perimeter
fence of Kruger you’ve never been able to afford the entrance fees and what’s more just 30 years
ago the horrific apartheid regime made it illegal anyway. You have no connection to the animals that
rich westerners have who pump millions each year into the tourism trade. Unfortunately this is not
an isolated case, more than half of South Africans(over 30 million people) are living below the
national poverty line of R992 a month. For people reading in the UK that’s less than £50 a month!
It’s easy for us to say no when we are living comfortably but as a father myself when faced with that
situation then even the biggest animal lover would be tested if it came to the survival of their own
Indeed the immediate threat to wild rhino populations needs addressing and anti poaching units
across the globe do a tremendous job in protecting these animals but by ignoring the root causes of
the poaching crisis then you are merely putting a towel down to soak up the leak rather than
attempting to stop the cause.
Since 2016 Veterans For Wildlife has successfully worked alongside local authorities and trained
wildlife Rangers in a bit to support frontline conservation efforts. Now in conjunction with our Wild
Warriors programme the charity has partnered with Nourish, a non profit organisation dedicated to
conservation by tackling the socio- economic issues previously discussed.
Nourish Eco Village is situated in the Hoedspruit area of South Africa, a mere few km away from
Kruger National Park’s Orpen Gate and opposite many private reserves in the Greater Kruger. It’s a
back to basics small community that provides a safe haven for the many children of the local
Sigagule village. A place where they can come for not only a better education but also a meal, for
many of which it could be their main one of the day.
The onsite creche provides pre school education for around 40 of the happiest children you could
ever wish to meet. When we arrived we were greeted with hugs and smiling faces galore from
children who have nothing yet are appreciate of everything.
They also facilitate trips for children of the local primary schools into Kruger National Park and local
wildlife centres thus creating that connection between the community and the wildlife, something
which has been missing for decades.
Founded and headed up by the incredible Sarah Berges, Nourish not only looks after the children of
the community but provides job opportunities for the locals too which include providing the
materials for a disabled woman named Ivy to make sanitary pads to sell to the village, sanitary pads
which will keep girls in school so they don’t have to take a week off each month. Nourish prides itself
on creating Resilient communities that are much more capable of saying no to criminal poaching
gangs that target weakness. Through tackling the poverty which drives wildlife crime they are
playing a huge part in protecting the lives of the Rhino that surround them, a perfect mix of
community and conservation.
Veterans For Wildlife will not only be providing volunteers on a monthly basis to support the
operation at Nourish but will also be partnering UK schools with the schools that Nourish work with,
like the partnership of Robin Hood School in London, England with Sihlekisi Primary school in
Sigagule village. Robin Hood provided a suitcase full of stationary, school equipment and shoes for
their new partnered school as well as funding two trips, one of which was to Kruger National Park,
with some children seeing Elephants and giraffe for the first time, a special moment for both us and
them. This is a partnership which will be ongoing and has the possibility to make a big difference.
However this is not solely for the benefit of the children in South Africa but also a great opportunity
for learning for the children in the rest of the world through finding out about the lives of these kids
as well as a platform for communication for both. Artwork by the children of Sihlekisi is soon to
decorate one of the notice boards in Robin Hood Primary School.
Veterans For Wildlife have already presented to thousands of UK school children about conservation
and in particular Rhino poaching but with this new partnership we now have a platform to connect
children across the globe, a winning formula for all parties involved.
Nourish has created a stronghold at their eco village, not only showcasing the finest demonstration
of upcycling I’ve seen with their use of eco bottles and bottle cap floor among others but they’ve
also managed to educate and empower a whole community which in turn protects the local wildlife,
sitting perfectly inline with Veterans For Wildlife’s core values.
Using our links in other reserves across Africa Veterans For Wildlife can help Nourish expand to
different communities on the continent thus having a positive impact on many more lives both
human and animal, the possibilities are endless.
Through this holistic approach as well as what Veterans For Wildlife do best, providing world class
training and support to front line conservation efforts we are in a much better position to stop the
ever growing issue of wildlife crime.
Nourish and a new way of living:
Every young girl has dreams for her future, and mine was travelling. I dreamt of travelling and in that
way, exploring many different cultures and gaining experience in life. I dreamt of living my life
independently and doing it all by myself. As I got older this dream could become reality the moment I
got the opportunity to do my internship at Nourish in South Africa.
Hi! I am Alessia Garlisi, a dreamer and communications student at PXL College in Hasselt, Belgium. As
a young girl, I loved travelling. The further, the better. When I got my diploma from secondary
school, I got the opportunity to volunteer in Ethiopia, but I didn’t do it. Everyone knows the story
about a girl falling in love and wants to be with him no matter what. Well this is what happened to
me. I fell madly in love with my best friend and don’t get me wrong I am still in love, but there was
something missing. I felt the need of more in life, like discovering the world and meeting new
In my second year of University there was a presentation about doing your internship abroad. I saw
this as an opportunity and I immediately searched for an interesting country. I chose South Africa.
Why? Well, that’s simple; South- Africa is such a beautiful country with beautiful cultures. I wanted
to experience a new culture and this as far as possible from home. In that way I wanted to challenge
myself in being independently and to open myself for a new way of living.
Now in my last year as a student, I have chosen to live in a rural area and to work in an organization
that minds about the health of people, animals and the environment of Hoedspruit South-Africa.
Nourish is the perfect organization, they work so hard to fight poverty and poaching. They inspire me
in being a better person and to give more about the world or country I live in.
I believe that during my time at Nourish, I will grow to be a better person and be more helpful not
only for people and animals, but also for the environment. I will learn more about the culture and
how to live back-to-basics. However big the differences may be in South Africa, I am ready to take on
My name is Jadwinia, I am a CSR manager in the international media company Dentsu Aegis
Network. In 2016, I received the "Employee of the Year" award. This award is financially and
any award-winning employee can decide how to spend it in accordance with its
development or current role in the company. I decided to spend this money on volunteering
My dream was to look at how the NGOs in the world work, what volunteers fight on the spot
and I wanted help in the field, and not from behind the desk in an elegant office building in
I decided to work for 3 weeks in the Nourish organization located next to the Kruger Park. I
liked their holistic approach to helping the local community, education and elements related
to environmental protection. I also had the impression that the work of volunteers is well
A few weeks of preparation, establishing contacts thanks to CSR Dentsu Global Team in
London, short training in London in the organization Global Giving and ... I started the
adventure of my life in South Africa.
In Nourish, positive energy, good attitude despite various difficulties, lots of ideas and happy
people nearby are unique. I also liked the diversity of projects and the ability to try many
things. One day we went to nearby schools with donated books, on another day I worked on
the capsules of Moringa powdered leaves, and the next day we persuaded the local
community to look after their dogs. In the afternoons, I played with children in the library. I
was open to what would happen to me. 3 weeks is definitely not enough to feel the impact.
Or maybe this "impact" is sometimes only a smile, a good word, simple gestures and
showing that I CARE?
It was definitely a great lesson of gratitude for what we have (basic things: access to water,
electricity, education), but also a clash with stereotypes about "poor Africa". In fact, the
children who came to Nourish every day often do not have their own beds, wardrobes full of
clothes, extra activities, but they did not look unhappy. They have beautiful nature, clean air,
are surrounded by family, they feel free. Sometimes I would like it for my children in Poland
:)! The only thing that I think is missing is good education and that's what Nourish does.
Volunteering is one of the best ways to get to know the real, beautiful Africa (or other place
on earth). I am very happy that in this way I realized my prize.
Come here and try it! Thank you Nourish Team for an unforgettable time!
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