The first week Wickersley had an opportunity to visit previous projects, with Charles Duna being one of those schools. The purpose of the visit was for the current students and leaders to see the progress of what had been done and how the school was looking currently. This visit then led them to Emafini Primary School where they would spend the next two weeks assisting in the Calabash Trust in their Permaculture project.
Emafini, a Xhosa word translated in English meaning “In the clouds.” The primary school had been preparing for months for the yearly Wickersley School arrival. In partnership with Calabash Tours and Calabash Trust one could sense that echoing within the school corridors. As a tradition, it was expected that this day would be a joyous celebration as any big day would formally be in a Xhosa traditional event.
Wickersley was welcomed with great joy and introduced to the local South Africa Xhosa tradition of song and dance. Teachers, parents and students centered themselves in the staff room amongst the tables, hands clapping high, showing the love and appreciation they had for the visit. It was indeed a special day for the school. Their voices rang with a popular teachers song, it being one of many, “I love you my baby, I love you my child (I love you my sweetheart) I love you my baby!” The school children spent the day waiting in anticipation as to what this Wickersley journey would bring during the course of the visit.
Mrs Tambo, the Head of Department of Emafini Primary school opened the event with another local and formal tradition of a prayer where she further introduced her colleagues. The principal of the school, Mr Mckay, introduced himself, sharing how important these visits were to the school.
Due to the wet weather in the Nelson Mandela Bay areas, the first week Wickersley arrived they met with Alhyrian, the Calabash Trust’s Permaculture associate, who then had to find alternative ways to get started on the project instead of the usual in the garden starting line. The team was prepared to do as much as they could in the short space of time Wickersley had at Emafini Primary.
The first thing that got the group in the grip of things was the preparation of the mulch which is used as compost for the Emafini garden. The weather carried on its stubborn wet ways allowing the group to start with the tutorial on how to make rain runners. In addition, old boxes were collected from the store room and these formed part of mulching material. We also came across rooms filled with pallets, which also became a project, and after some research the group decided to make a planter box, a vertical garden and a bridge to cross the main swale.
As the week progressed, the weather cheered up allowing the group to get down and dirty in the muddy garden as they prepared swales with some of the Emafini scholars as well as put up a fence.
The Wickersley adventure at Emafini was not just all work and no play. They also had an opportunity to be part of the creative thought program with Xolisa Ngubelanga, the Calabash Trust arts Facilitator.
Part of his process involved teaching the children how to document scripts and allowing them to prepare something small for the Wickersley group on the week they were still there. With that in mind, the children decided to plan a day where they would teach Wickersley some of the local street gumboot dancing.
As the Calabash Trust team we spent weeks trying to perfect their co-ordination, Emafini seemed to have the routine perfected. Most of the Wickersley scholars had been looking forward to the dancing part as they had heard of Xhosa people and their love to dance and song.
This song and dance was not something that we expected to just end in the classrooms, it also was part of the break time at the school. The children took this to the playground as they were so proud of what they had created. They drafted letters to the Wickersley group and the rest of the scholars of Emafini to watch this performance.