We adopted a village....
Soon after buying and clearing up a 4 hectare piece of land in The Crags near South Africa’s premier tourist destination Plettenberg Bay in 1999, “Rocky” Reeder realised that the nearby community in Kurland Village was in serious need of help.
The community was historically disadvantaged, and very poor. There were many social problems - including unemployment, criminality, substance abuse and dependency, teenage pregnancy & single parenthood.
The difficulties faced by the Kurland Community moved Rocky deeply, so in 2001 he established Willing Workers in South Africa (WWISA), with the aim of attracting international volunteers to join a project to help the community.
Rocky and his friends built an accommodation facility for volunteers, landscaped a 2HA Zen garden, and cleared a walking trail through the indigenous forest on the property.
Focussing on Gap Year as well as Study and/or Service Abroad student programs , WWISA began drawing mainly young people - self-funded individuals or groups. They visit for various periods giving of their time and their skills, and over the years their caring efforts have made a huge difference to the quality of life in the Kurland community.
Our volunteers have not only experienced the fulfilment of doing community work (and being surrounded by smiling faces!), they have also during their time off been able to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery of our area, and sample a variety of outdoor adventure experiences – such as the world’s highest bungee jump, skydiving, white water tubing, dolphin and whale watching, and hiking and cycling trails.
Since 2001 our programs and projects, staffed by volunteers, have:
- Started ongoing “Cleaning & Greening” programs to address littering and community hygiene. These have involved regular community clean-ups plus education workshops pitched to all age sectors
- Constructed timber pens at strategic points to assist the community garbage/refuse containment issue.
- Established communal cash-crops allotment gardens with raised beds, compost areas, fencing, rain-water tanks etc., and run workshops
- Assisted many folk to establish gardens, as well as green verges in newly developed residential areas.
- Been involved with the planting of indigenous trees in public open spaces and fruit trees in individual gardens.
- Renovated many old neglected homes of the aged and infirm. These projects have involved cleaning and repainting both interior and exterior surfaces, waterproofing, re-glazing, replacing timber doors, building access steps etc
- Constructed many ramps at houses occupied by the infirm to provide easier access for those reliant on walking-aids or wheelchairs .
- Constructed and extended facilities for soup-kitchens and feeding schemes to prepare and distribute meals for youth and the aged.
- Fabricated solar water-heating units from coiled black irrigation pipe and installed these, plus all plumbing fittings, on numerous houses to supply hot water for those who previously had a cold-water supply only and had to rely on fossil fuels for hot water.
- Erected fencing to keep ‘free-range domestic livestock” such as pigs, cows & goats from destroying gardens – especially vegetable beds.
- Assisted in the development of business plans for emergent entrepreneurs and the submission of tenders for public contracts.
- Working in conjunction with The Natures Valley Trust (NVT), developed a series of environmental conservation experiential education booklets aimed at learners.
- Assisted in the facilitation of numerous holiday, weekend and day environmental education camps/outings for local and out-of-region learners brought to the area in partnership with the NVT, SANParks and the Pick and Pay Kids in Parks sponsored programme.
- Placed numerous volunteers at pre-school and day care centres to support staff.
- Assisted learners with after-school homework and computer literacy programmes.
- Regularly distributed supplementary food packages to communities further away from Kurland.
- Regularly had many volunteers working with the palliative care organisation The Plettaid Foundation, and the That’s It tubercolosis initiative.
- Run numerous fashion and talent shows for young people in the village.
- Assisted with year-end functions geared to youth and old-age pensioners.
- Run sporting programmes for community youth and young adults.
- Collected new & second-hand sports equipment for distribution to school and independent sporting teams.
Over the years WWISA has worked alongside many public and private sector organisations involved with community upliftment programs. Some of these organisations are listed below:
Public Governance: Eden District Government – Dept’s Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, and Environmental affairs; Bitou Regional Government ; Kurland Village Management Office; SANParks Garden Route’s Tsitsikamma, Knysna and Wilderness sections; and Working for Water; Working against Fire; Working for Coast; and Coastcare.
Local NGO’s: Kids of Kurland – fundraising for education support and fire relief support; Born in Africa – youth education and development programmes; Natures Valley Trust – Environmental Conservation & Education; The Plettaid Foundation – community health with a specific focus on palliative care for HIV/Aids, TB & Diabetes; Masizame – youth care; Masizakhe – Kurland based community service NGO; Kids in Park – sponsored annual environmental camping outings for regional learners; ORCA – a Plettenberg Bay based community development organisation who cooperate with others in the Bitou Region on initiatives involving team and community development processes; Ingwe Forest Adventures – a local facility offering youth team building and leadership development within an outdoor environment; The Lunchbox Theatre – a local NGO promoting the development of youth expression via artistic expression; Child Welfare; Epilepsy SA.
Overseas Educational Bodies: The Springfield Community College; Florida University; University of Oslo; Southern New Hampshire University; Nobles & Greenough College; The Friends School – Baltimore; Indiana University; Western Washington University; Thinking Beyond Borders.