Muzomuhle Primary School Ocean Adventure
An important part of what we do at I AM WATER is to give Ocean Education and Conservation Presentations to school children. The children are always inspired and astounded by what they learn and discover. I AM WATER's Beth Neale writes about the experience she had with a very special school, where giving a presentation transformed into an incredible ocean adventure!
As I AM WATER’s
Education and Outreach Manager, I have been giving many Ocean Education and Conservation Presentations at schools. I was extremely fortunate to give a talk at the most incredible school in Umlazi, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. I had no idea what a beautiful journey my talk would lead me on and that it would create a truly meaningful and lasting relationship with Muzomuhle Primary School.
It is difficult to gauge the exact impact of the Ocean Education and Conservation Presentation, however I had the opportunity to receive affirming, heart warming (and also hilarious) feedback when I gave the presentation to the Grade 7’s at Muzomuhle. In order to select those who would be chosen to attend our Ocean Outreach and Experience Snorkel Day, we decided to run a competition where the children could write or draw about any aspect of what they learnt from the Presentation.
A week later, I arrived at the school to collect the entries. I was not prepared for what I received. It was so overwhelming to see the effort that was put into the entries and how desperate the children were to have the opportunity to join us in the ocean. Every single learner who heard the presentation entered the competition. As I went through the entries, I realized that there was NO WAY that I could only choose 15 children. To me, they were all winners and showed incredible passion and creativity.
A poem written for the Competition
I Am Water
All the animals that
Are in the ocean
Are important. If we
Think they are nothing
That would be a mistake
To all of us
All the animals that
Are in the ocean
Are incredible, intelligent
Especially the dolphins
They are not the harmful animals as they can scan
A pregnant woman
The ocean gives us oxygen
If you destroy all the sea animal we would not
Get enough oxygen
Stop throwing waste in
The ocean because that
Will kill them all
The water pollution cause
More damage even on
People we cannot drink
We cannot bath we cannot cook
So stop with the water pollution
If you think the ocean does
Not do anything and then you throw
You will suffer too
by Lusanda Shozi
So, on Thursday and Friday last week, 43 of the amazing Muzomuhle Primary School children ALL joined us for a day experiencing and learning about our oceans.
With two large groups, were very fortunate to have the Brighton Beach Lifeguards assisting us with the children, as well as I AM WATER Instructor/Translator/Cameraman Andy Coetzee and Volunteer Nats Dos Santos.
We always start the day with some stretching and breathing so that the children can learn the importance of their breath and also learn about their bodies in a fun and challenging way. It also helps them to prepare and warm up for the best part of the day… Getting into the water!
Snorkelling for the first time can be very overwhelming, particularly when there is a huge fear of water and when the majority of the children cannot swim. We help the children to master their masks and snorkels in the shallow pool, so that when it was time to get into the tidal pool, they felt confident and comfortable!
Nats the volunteer, as well as all of the
lifeguards, Kevin Manuel, States Khumalo, Carlisle Barry, Lebu Tau, Nhlanhla
Tau and Alex Zikhali were really incredible teaching the children and they even
taught them some invaluable swimming techniques. Kevin shared how he felt about
the experience, “It was a fun and educational experience for us. It’s important
to do this so that the children can get used to being in the water. We enjoyed
working with I AM WATER. It taught us how to train children in snorkelling and
It is always amazing to see how quickly the children take to having their face submerged in the water and floating around with their noodles, when there is so much fear and apprehension to begin with. We can also clearly see what a transformative effect it has on the children’s wellbeing and self-confidence, as well as providing invaluable skills and experiences.
But on this occasion, it was heartwarming and very rewarding to really see impact that the Outreach Day had on the children’s lives. Their Grade 7 Teacher, Mr. Thami Ndinisa, handed me a huge bunch of thank you letters that the children had written. From the very first letter, I was in tears!
Mr Ndinisa, one of the most dedicated and nurturing teachers I have ever met, also expressed his feelings when he said, “We at Muzomuhle Primary School would like to express our sincere gratitude for what “I AM WATER” has done for our learners on the Ocean Adventure snorkel day. Looking at the thank you notes written by our learners one could see how much they learnt and enjoyed. Not only learners have learnt but also us as teachers we have learnt”.
Just read for yourself!
Here are a few exerts from their extremely moving Thank You letters. Their first language is Zulu and not English.
“Thanks a million Beth and the team for a fun day and a lovely day. I really enjoyed this day a lot with my classmates. You have taught us a lot of things.
Thank you for being patient and friendly to us, you made sure that everyone was safe. I thought I was going to sink. But in the end I had fun. I learnt how to swim and also I learnt that you must trust yourself and try, if you don’t try then you will not success anything in life. Also thank you for the nice food, the water made us hungry and tired, when I got home I went straight to bed and slept.”
“I would like to thank you about what you told us about the water and how to use snorkel. You let me experience a lot about the water and I could have not done it without you. So it gives me joy in my heart that you have helped me every step of the way. Yesterday was very nice I loved it a lot. I did not know water made me feel so relaxed and calm.”
“I want to say thank you for the snorkeling day and I had fun on the beach and it was my happiest ever in my life. And I learnt so much on the beach. I learnt how to use a snorkel and a goggle to see underwater and see sea creatures”
“Thank you for teaching us a lot of thinkgs. We really had fun yesterdat learning to swim and how to use a mask and snorkel underwater. I was scared when I started but now I am no longer scared. I am no longer scared even to sink and swim. I can now swim without using a noodle. I can float on my own. You treated us like your biological children. We really enjoyed the day and the snacks were delicious that you prepared for us.
“Thank you for everything that you have done for us. Thank you for teaching us how to swim and about the ocean. I learn more about the ocean some of the things you taught us were fun. Almost everything you taught us were fun. If it wasn’t for you, I would have not known that throwing papers anywhere is not good those papers get into the sea and the animals think that is is food. They eat those papers and they day. And it is painful if the animals die.
Yesterday I enjoyed, it was fun more than I expected it will be. You taught us to breathe underwater and to exercise, The part that I enjoyed the most it was when I swam underwater. Because I did not know how to swim underwater. If it wasn’t for you who would have to worry about teaching me to swim? You have made my wish to come true because since I was 10 years old my wish was to know how to swim underwater. And you have made my wish to come true at last.
Carry on with your good work. I hope you would do the same to other learners like you did to us. You are the best I have ever heard of. It was nice to have you guys. I will miss you.”