While preparing for my first African safari in June of 2012, my wife and I decided to visit an elementary school while we were in Africa. We contacted our outfitter, Joubert ProHunt", near Vaalwater, S.A. He informed us that he had two children attending the Laerskoof Vaalwater Elementary School. Their son, Robert, was in Grade 7 and daughter, Zoey, was in Grade 2. Joubert ProHunt arranged a morning visit to the school during our safari.
Whenever a member of the Central Wyoming Chapter of Safari Club International goes hunting internationally, the chapter donates $500 if the hunting member will visit a school. My wife, Noreen, and I decided to match the chapter donation and give the school $1000 for school supplies. My wife and I stopped at a local grocery store the day before our visit and bought 200 golf ball size chocolate candy suckers to give to all the students at the school.
On the third day of our safari on a Monday morning, we arrived at the school at 7:30 a.m. We were met at the school auditorium by 145 students and faculty members. The students sang their national anthem and Bible songs in English and Afrikaans with such enthusiasm. Pastor Ernst Redelinghuys gave a prayer and a sermon. The principal, Martie Steyl, introduced me and I spoke to the students about life in Wyoming and what profession that my wife and I have. The students asked many good questions about ranching, mining, oil and gas, and the economy in Wyoming. I told the students how the SCI in Wyoming sponsors and donates funds for 4-H shooting sports, to educate Hunter Safety instructors and for youth to take Hunter Safety classes. I explained to the students about how SCI protects hunters' rights and supports and funds Wildlife Conservation worldwide. Every country that allows hunting of big game benefits from SCI's support. At the end of the assembly, I called principal, Martie Steyl, to come forward and I presented her with our $1,000 USD from the SCI and the Leathams.
After the assembly, we passed out the chocolate suckers as the students went to class. We then went and visited each of the 7 grades. The school was small and had only one class per grade. This school was the only integrated school in town. One class was for the native children, only. so that they could learn their language and culture.They had some computers but did not have any room to hook them up or any funds to get the internet so they just sat on a counter. There were two private schools for the white children and several for the black students. All the students wore uniforms that were red and gray. They go to school year round with 3 - 4 weeks off between quarters. They go to school from 7:30 to 1:30 and have to do homework every day. After grade 7, the white students usually have to go away to a boarding school for further education. We were offered a hearty breakfast after visiting the classrooms and met the Superintendent of the Schools. We were impressed with our visit to the school.
Within a day, we received two very nice "Thank You" notes. One was for the SCI chapter and the other was for us. They said they were going to use some of the money for a new fax machine since their old one was broken. Many of the students told us that they had never seen the principal cry until we gave the school our donation. We were the first hunters to ever visit their school and make a donation to them since the principal had been there for twenty years. Our visit to the school was one of the highlights of our African Safari in the summer of 2012.
Dale Leatham,Vice-President, Central Wyoming Chapter Safari Club International
Officer Dale Leatham,U.S Customs and Border Protection,
Noreen Leatham, Pineview Elementary School Librarian