I'm skipping ahead a few days in my travel journal to day 7 of our African hunting safari. It's the day we visit the bush school in the rural area of Laphalele, Limpopo. I'm prefacing this day with the details that made this day so emotional and important for me personally.
We've spent the previous days hunting. When we signed up on this trip, we knew that US laws forbid the bringing of meat back into the country. We were told that the meat harvested from the hunts would go to the locals in the villages, but we had no idea that these locals were poor school kids. We were even more thrilled to learn of that.
Our African safari is not a photo safari, it's a hunting safari and because of that I've taken alot of flack recently from some of my followers on facebook who disagree with hunting. And to that I say, to each his own. I respect their right to disagree, but feel that they should do so based on the facts and not act as a hypocrit. Disagreeing with hunting and continuing to eat meat is like being the get-a-way car driver in a bank robbery. You may not have commited the robbery, but you are an accomplice by being associated with it. Just the same, if you are against hunting, you are an accomplice if you eat meat. If you want to eat meat, someone's going to have to shoot it, domestic or wild, no matter if it's fish, mammal or bird... It's that simple.
I, in no way condone hunting for sport. I am appalled with animal cruelty and do not hunt animals which I do not intend to eat and use as much of that resource as humanely possible, right down to the hide and the bones.
Some feel as though we should just give people money, and teach them the necessary skills so that they can survive on their own. The parents of these kids, have no real education. Fifty percent of the South African population is unemployed. They do not know how to manage money and they certainly lack the funds needed to be able to hunt. So, think about it.... what good is a skill, if they lack the tools in which to do it? And that is why it is so important for the hunters to continue to support the schools with their meat.
These are a people who struggle to aquire life's basic necessities. They live without running water, they eat the same meal every day, day in and day out. I ask you, would you eat oatmeal every day, three times a day, for the rest of your days and still be happy about it with a smile on your face? I'll be honest, I know I'm spoiled and I know it would be difficult for me to do without complaining and for that I feel embarrased.
That being said, I am in NO way ashamed of taking the selective harvest of these animals when they provide such sustenance for these people of little means. Our hunt will provide for over 5000 meals.
Take a good hard look in the video, watch it several times, look in the background, look at their behavior at their dress, at their feet. They have nothing. But, they have pride and dignity. Their clothes are not torn, they are not rebellious. They are smiling all the time.
To go to public school in S. Africa, you are required to pay a tuition. Although the schools are public, they are not free and as a result, a majority of the kids who live in rural villages can not afford the luxury of an education. That is why it is so important to help these people build schools.
There is no bus system there. Transportation to and from public schools is a community effort. Generally the mom's take turns carpooling the kids to school and back home in the evening. They even help each other out by taking others kids to school functions and sporting events. There is a definate sense of community in this area.
The government subsidizes this school but unfortunately, they only give enough funds for 50 kids and there are 117 kids and three educators present at the moment. They are busting at the seams.
The school grounds were immaculate for what they were. The children were all neatly dressed in school uniforms. You'll notice the students in the upper grades immediately stood up when we walked in their classroom to show respect. They don't whine about their food, their accomodations or feel a sense of entitlement.
They want to be in school getting an education so bad that they are willing to leave their families (they go home for two days the last weekend of the month, sleep on a concrete floor on top of a thin blanket, crammed into a small classroom shared with 40 other people and sit on the bar of the desk if they have to. The bare feet you will see are not all by choice. They receive one pair of shoes a year. When they get too tight, they cut the tops out of their shoes so that their toes can grow thru the shoes. They want the shoes to keep their feet warm in the winter months.
When they were offered their treats and meat - they cheered and clapped...and each of them said "thank you" with a bow and a courtsey. They were really a breath of fresh air and a wonderful example for all of us, including myself.
Unexpectedly, this topic has really become something I'm very passionate about and so I wanted this post to be the first one that you would see. I have promised to myself that I will do what I can so I can to continue to support these kids, whether it's providing them with paper and pencil, art supplies, socks, chairs...whatever....because they've given me a gift and a lesson that will last a life time....
Enjoy the video!