There was already a festive atmosphere when we joined the main group on Bollard Bay after hiking approximately 2.5km from the other side of Leisure Isle.
I was greeted by 3 of the boys from Judah Square boys who had had time to blow up enormous balloons that Louise, one of our Love Knysna Projects’ volunteers, had brought with her. Half of the kids were in the water, oblivious to the cold but not venturing beyond knee depth in hesitation at the unknown.
The volunteers, the biggest group so far, were enjoying the day too; getting to know one another whilst seated on deckchairs and sand seats. Dee offered me my first coffee of the day and i enjoyed that whilst kids shouted in excitement around us. My pleasure at a morning going well was soon interrupted when we discovered that one of the girls had snuck off to visit a relative…on the East Head!
I got more exercise as i only caught up to her just before Green Hole, the braai site on the far end of the island. I may not have kids but a moment like this sure made me mimic the worry and frustration of being one. I realize that the poorer kids of Knysna are more independent than their generally, mollycoddled, urban counterparts. It’s sad because i wish their lives were less tough and filled with more possibility but i’m comforted that they will grow up stronger. Pros and cons aside, i was simply relieved that she was ok. A scolding gave her a long face that had no chance of lasting when she became the first to ride a paddle ski that beach neighbours kindly lent us.
The picnic was a definite success! As i’ve previously discovered, food never goes to waste but what is amazing is that, again, some of these Rastafari kids asked for takeaways for their siblings – one love.
Originally, we’d decided to spice up the day with a present for each kid that would cost approximately R10. Half were wrapped in Action Ads, an idea which i will extend to future present-giving times as it’s another way Love Knysna Projects can support local brands. We dished out everything from coloured pencils and notepads to puzzles and toy slime. I said “originally” because we were extremely lucky to giveaway a lot more. First of these were lovely water bottles that SAMSA and the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) had donated on their Sea Pledge tour. It tied in well to this trip which was for the kids to enjoy and respect Knysna’s natural beauty (we were sure to leave the beach spotless). The next gift was perfect for the morning chills we’d been experiencing lately (as low as 6 degrees) – gloves from SAMMY D’s clothing in Grey Street, opposite the entrance to the Checker’s Centre.
Originally, we were suppose to have given the kids a restaurant experience but were forced to relocate to the sand and salt water when our numbers swelled. Thankfully, it had turned into a perfect substitute which would never have been possible without the sandwich-making, cake-buying resourcefulness of the volunteers. They were a diverse bunch that included 2 retirees, office workers, a teacher in training, a business owner and a lawyer. Tania, a student of the new Concordia High, was the teen helper from Judah Square. Many hands definitely make light work so BIG thanks to her, Sheila, Louise, Candice, Belinda and her husband, Dinky, Dee, Sue and her mom.
And of course to Sammy D’s, SAMSA & SST.
Hopefully you will join us next time – hint, hint:)