Nicole and Marelise’s Ecuador Challenge

Through the years we’ve been very appreciative in the way the “Homes To Grow” project has attracted support through many different sectors and we’re delighted now to introduce two  intrepid adventurers, Nicole Morse and her partner Marelise Bardenhorst who are on a quest to scale the high mountains in Ecuador.  Their trip is self-funded and they have kindly offered to champion our fundraising efforts in support of the “Homes to Grow” project.

Of all the requirements to ensure the children’s needs are covered,  the cost of their education is the most pressing.   We are aiming to raise R1.25 million through the long term and we have a very long way to go!  The funds being raised through Nicole and Marelise’s endeavours are a promising start to this year’s  target goal of R300,000 which will cover just the school fees.

Their departure is set for February 16 and they will spend their first days in Quito acclimatising to the altitude.  The plan is to ease into the experience by hiking trails on the lesser mountains  – Pasochoa (4200 m) Pichincha (4696 m), IlinazaNorte (5126 m) and then try to summit Cotopaxi (5,897 m).  Prior to this undertaking  they will undergo technical training on the glacier to hone ice-climbing techniques using crampons and ice axes.  If all goes well they will attempt to reach the summit by starting the climb at midnight on the seventh day.  This will give them time to descend before the  sun warms the glacier making it unstable by possibly causing avalanches or ice and rock falls.   Additional challenges for the climbers could be adverse weather and altitude sickness.  Tackling this rugged and austere terrain is not for the feint hearted!

Mt Cotopaxi:  Courtesy of Wikipedia

A steely determination shows through Nicole’s nonchalance  when asked about the motivation for the adventure.  She explains that it’s the challenge of wanting to climb big mountains and to experience glaciers that appeals as well as the quest for pushing oneself to the limit.

After they have achieved these initial goals and if time permits, they may even consider Mt Chimboraso, which is Ecuador’s highest mountain at an altitude of 6268 m.   It has the added allure of being the tallest mountain in the world  – that is not by elevation above sea level, but through its location along the equatorial bulge, making it’s summit the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center.

The months of preparation and physical training is paying off.  Nicole’s latest dash up Platteklip Gorge (Table Mountain) took an hour and six minutes and a rapid forty-eight minutes to come back down.  While Marelise is presently studying in Amsterdam for a PhD in exercise science her training has involved a lot of gym work.

Their goals and aspirations are an inspiration to our young children and we’ll be eagerly following their experiences.  What a way to learn about the geography of the lofty mountains of the Andes, right there on the equator clad in snow and juxtaposed between glaciers and volcanoes!


Third Quarterly Report

The Quarterly report is prepared by Monika and is the latest news on the running of the Homes.

“It has been a busy quarter and we’re happy to report the steady progress of the children.  Educational and health needs continue to be immediate priorities as we continue to focus and assess their individual and overall needs. We’re blessed to have the support of volunteers as well as the generosity of donors when the children benefit from creative and uplifting extramural activities.”

To continue – click on the link (PDF reader required) for the full report.

Third Quarterly Report


New swimming lessons

Funky socks from USA

We received an exciting visit from Jose, the father of 2 entrepreneurial young boys, Brandon and Sebastian (9 and 11 years old) who started a business in the USA, designing funky socks.       Our kids were thrilled with these colourful socks and filled with exuberance in showing them off. Thanks to these wonderful boys whose generosity is spread to multiple NGOs who are helping children in need.


School Term Assignment

The Class 3 learners have a ‘hands-on’ project learning about building in this term’s assignment:  House – Home.

For the children to experience it firsthand, the teacher organised a Saturday when parents and children learned to make bricks.

Digging clay to be mixed with water –

The children enjoyed the tactile experience of mixing the clay and water with their feet.

Packing the mix into the prepared forms for drying before the bricks are transferred for building a chicken coop.


Festival of Light

We enjoyed a delightful evening at the Waldorf School celebrating the Festival of Light.  The learners from all the classes had crafted different designs of lanterns.  The children walked across the playing field in front of the school to a circular path, carrying their lighted lanterns.

Class 7 received torches which were lighted one after the other while they recited a poem and then stepped forward together to lite the bonfire.

We proudly watched our little girl gazing with amazement at the flames.

After the spectacle, we (parents and children) went to their respective class rooms and shared soup and bread, which we had brought along.  Joyce had loaned her ‘Wonderbag’ (cooking cushion) which retained the heat of the soup as if it had just been cooked.

It was an evening filled with community spirit and friendships.

Equinox revisited

The children went and revisited their friends at Equinox during school holidays.  We are very grateful to Fiona who has helped our children in the past with this holistic therapy involving horses. Their influence with the children is a boost for their self esteem.