Penz Malinga has very fond memories of walking through the Dargle along the banks of the Mngeni on her way to the sea. Which meant that she was delighted when the Dargle Conservancy invited her to spend time in local schools telling them about the walk and teaching them more about water issues.
After greeting Mother River, Penz headed to Corrie Lynn School along the Petrus stroom Road, which is situated really close to the river. Learners were fascinated to hear about her 311km adventure along it’s banks and sorry they hadn’t been able to greet her as she passed.
The kids asked the usual questions about where we slept and what we ate and whether we walked non-stop – even during the night! Really curious about the source of the river and how pristine the water was. They were shocked to hear that the only place that after the source had good quality water was in the Cumberland Nature Reserve. Although they drink water out of the river everyday, they were amazed to hear about the other dams along the way which supply water to 5 million people.
Penz discussed the problems the river faces – pollution, nutrification from artificial fertilizers, erosion from farming too close to the banks and encroachment by alien vegetation. To illustrate some of the issues, the children put together the Windows on our World Catchment to Coast picture building poster.Once familiar with all the elements in a Catchment, they headed into the sunshine to play the game. Of course, much fun was had by all as the two teams “Blue Birds” and “Butterflies” competed furiously to complete the puzzle. “Great kids” Penz commented after school – “I look forward to meeting them all in the forest soon.” Educator Thenjiwe Ngcobo commented “The learners were excited, had fun and enjoyed themselves while learning lots from Penz’ experiences.”Penz was pleased to see that some of the wattle along the banks of the river was being felled, but concerned that many trees had fallen into the river where they will cause blockages. “I do wonder if landowners here at the top of the river have any idea how much their actions impact on millions of downstream users?”
“I had a wonderful Dargle day” said Penz. “When I grow up, I definately want to live here!” She spent the night on the edge of the forest with a view of the Crowned Eagle’s nest at Crab Apple Cottages.