The 19th May was our paternal grandmother’s birthday. The Big5Hike has always landed close to this date and incidentally it was on her 103rd (heavenly) birthday that we did our first Big5 fundraiser. And our target was R103 thousand rand. Ruth has always been my ultimate warrior. She was widowed after 13 short years of marriage and left with a small guest farm, 4 children, gravel roads and no power. But she stuck to it. Continued the vision of building a farm and leaving the world better.
I remember in her later days she became a bit of a worrier when she battled to remember every visiting guest’s name and she’d say “I’m so addled”. Ruth was in her 70s by then… I’m not quite 50 and I battle with names daily!
But much of Ruth’s success and fortitude came from the support of those around her. There were guests who helped her build, others that advised on the electrics and a team of women who were known as the Hlolela Old Girls Club.
I consider myself to be more of the worrier type. Always hoping to give the great sense of calm but actually paddling furiously beneath the surface. Will we have enough hikers, will we raise enough funds and will it actually work?
And work it does because like Ruth we are surrounded and held by a Cavern community and a global village.
A few weeks ago, I was approached by some past RDPS pupils about joining the hike. I asked them to send us a letter of motivation… and we took these beautifully written words and shared them on our socials and we sent them to our Cavern database. We included the stories of Idah, who has been with us since the school began and Teacher Thoba, who in his 33rd year is living his purpose. And, we added Lucy the spaniel to mix to bring in a little bit of cuteness and tug at the heartstrings… and so began a small fundraising drive.
And it’s astounding that the greater community responded and to-date we have R114k added to our fundraising amount. It was a global village that donated and our worries slowly dissipated… we could do this. As we raise these important Rands and challenge ourselves to long walks and scrambling up mountains we begin to feel like the warriors of Ruth’s legacy.
But just as in the case of Ruth, it’s the community, the friends, the supporters that come together and hold it up and so we extend our thanks to;
Audrey & friends
Mooney Ford Attorneys
Out in Africa Tours, Holland
Special mention to those that keep us well fed and hydrated;
Bergview Wimpy, Mugg & Bean and Sparkle treats
Spier Wine Farm
Meander Fine Wines
We appreciate Grant Pitcher’s efforts in capturing the moments and extend our thanks to Marge for being the paramedic on standby.
Our Cavern & Royal Drak teams are extraordinary in their support. Picking up pieces, sending reminders, checking in. None of this is possible without all of you. The porters, the guides, the teams that step-in and step-up.
To the school’s management team, Loretta & Thobani, who are on this rollercoaster journey and just pitch-up, buckle-up and help chase the next crazy idea.
And then to the support that is every day. This family. Ruth’s lot. The cousins, the parents, the siblings, the children and the long-suffering husbands that marry into this family. It takes courage and a bit of crazy.
We still the worry and become the warriors through all these special relationships.
Commitment to 10 Big5Hikes has been generous and this family has made it possible. Two days of trading donated to a cause that we believe in completely. It’s about uplifting children and turning the tide on a shocking statistic that says 80% of Grade 4 SA children cannot read with understanding. Changing this begins in the first 1000 days where we stimulate neurological pathways through our BabyBoost programme. We grow and develop young children in our ECD, Khanyisela Project which supports 750 children and 50 practitioners and this all happens out of Royal Drakensberg, our hub and our heart… which incidentally has 103 little people enrolled in 2023. And our mission at Royal Drakensberg is that children learn2read so that they can read2learn.
So, thank you to every hiker for contributing to this year’s Big5Hike. You hiked, you raised funds, and in each step, you have helped us make a significant difference.
2024 will be the final round. There are a few ideas about let’s double it before we quit but we’ll be in touch to let you know. But, with so many lasts, the demand is high… and so we’ll need firm commitment. Watch this space!
Save the date: Saturday 18th May 2024