Shewula Mountain Camp
by Lauren Hoskin, Nicola Smith and Natasha Brookes
Twenty intrepid International Baccalaureate students from Truro College have just returned from Swaziland. Tasha Brookes explained, “Five days of our African adventure were spent in Shewula Mountain Camp a place so welcoming we soon felt at home.”
Shewula, close to the Mozambique border, has a population of 10,000, most of whom live in desperate poverty. Shewula Mountain Camp is the first community operated tourist venture in Swaziland, benefitting the whole community. Tasha added, “We were overwhelmed by both the sheer beauty of the camp, high in the mountains, and the wonderfully warm welcome offered by the whole community.”
On arrival the students were greeted by Nomsa, an energetic and inspirational young woman who has dedicated her life to the project. She oversees everything from allocation of donated clothing to Aids orphans, to the preparation of food for tourists. While the Truro College students were there Nomsa organised a tour of the Shewula funded Aids/HIV clinic, and translated on a visit to the Sangoma, the traditional Swazi healer.
Nomsa explained that a vital aspect of the Shewula project was its involvement in the establishment and maintenance of schools where children from the poorest parts of the community are given access to the life-changing education they would otherwise not have. Children are encouraged to attend regularly and are given a meal. Sponsorship of children through Shewula is crucial to this venture and Truro College students will this year continue their fund-raising to support the work being done by Nomsa and the community around Shewula Mountain Camp.
By Grace Waterhouse and Grace Edward-Collins
At the beginning of July, twenty International Baccalaureate students from Truro College embarked on an eleven day trip to Swaziland. During their stay at the remote Shewula Mountain Camp they visited a traditional healer – a Sangoma.
A Sangoma is highly respected within Swazi culture. It is believed they are called by ancestors to perform sacred rituals and provide help to their community. They also “read the bones” to predict the future. Each collection of bones is different as each Sangoma is guided by their particular ancestors to locate the bones they should use. Grace Waterhouse explained, “The Sangoma we met had ‘bones’ which included other objects such as stones, beads – and even a domino and a dice!”.
If a client is worried about being bewitched or wants guidance the Sangoma throws the bones, reads them and offers advice. The group had the opportunity to interview the Sangoma and discovered that, nowadays, the Sangoma will often advise people to visit the medical health centres in an effort to work with the health professionals in their struggle to combat the Aids/HIV epidemic.
Several students took the opportunity to have a reading from the bones. The Sangoma was happy to answer queries and to predict the future in the bones. Many found that the Sangoma was insightful and the readings brought powerful emotions to the surface, encouraging the young people to reflect on decisions and future plans.
Whatever the future may hold for the twenty students on the trip, Grace Edward-Collins spoke for the group, “We will never forget the community at Shewula and the inspirational people we met along the way.”
Swaziland Trip 2012
by Harriet Hughes and Katherine Lawrence
At the end of June, twenty-four students and lecturers from Truro College ventured to Swaziland in Southern Africa. Lauren Hoskin (17) reported, “It was a life-changing experience.”
The group stayed at the Remote Shewula Mountain Camp, run by the community for the community. Student Lydia Light enthused, “You could feel the community spirit in the area. What really impressed me was how they preserved their traditional culture whilst welcoming people like us from other countries.”
Students volunteered at the local school and day care centre , funded through the eco-tourism at Shewula Mountain Camp, where they organised a sports day. Grace Edward-Collins explained, “The children were so happy to receive even the smallest gift- a balloon or some bubbles – it made me realise how lucky we are.”
The Shewula region – only five kilometres from Mozambique – is terribly affected by HIV/Aids and the students visited a local treatment clinic – also supported by the Shewula Mountain Camp. A local man, fittingly called “Wonder Boy”, told them about the treatment and support available through the clinic and explained how it has helped to combat not only the spread of infection but also the prejudice towards those infected.
The Truro College group also visited Milwane Nature reserve where they experienced a different side of Swaziland. They enjoyed horse-riding across plains inhabited by zebras and impala and bike trails where signs warned, “Beware of hippo” and “Do not Swim – crocodiles”. On one trip they shared water slides with a group of curious monkeys.
Later they went on safari at Mkhaya , a Game Reserve which focusses on eco-tourism and conservation. Nikki Smith told us, “The elephants were so close I could almost touch them! We also saw white rhino and giraffes.”
As a surprise finale, the students were treated to a thrilling canopy tour – consisting of zip-wires through the trees and rope bridges over a gorge situated deep within the pristine mountain wilderness of the Malolotja Nature Reserve.
Reflecting on her experiences, Hayley Dawson said, “The longer I spent in Swaziland, the more my outlook on life changed. The people wer inspirational and I know we are all determined to continue to raise money for the life-changing projects organized through Shewula. I will be shaving my hair off when I return to college in the autumn and hope to raise a lot of money to help the Shewula community. I will never forget my time there, or the people I met.”