Nature nurtures Manenberg’s teen girls

Teenage girls from Manenberg who participated in the Daring Disa Project received their certificates from the Brave Rock Girl non-profit organisation.

Teenage girls from Manenberg are learning more about the wonders of nature, thanks to Brave Rock Girl, a non-profit organisation.

On Saturday, the Mowbray-based organisation presented certificates to 17 girls from Manenberg who took part in its Daring Disa Project. The ceremony, attended by the girls’ families, took place at the Edith Stephens Nature Reserve in Philippi

Brave Rock Girl runs the project throughout the year. Every Saturday, the girls are picked up from their homes and taken to the Edith Stephens Nature Reserve, where they learn about the different types of fynbos, how to grow plants, how to keep the environment clean and more. And with the help of a professional videographer, they also make a five-minute film about their experience.

Brave Rock Girl programme director Lorna Houston said they had run the Daring Disa Project for the past three years, funded by the Table Mountain Fund.

“The outdoors and adventures are part of the activities that we like to explore as an organisation, though, with this project, the girls learn about biodiversity, they learn about fynbos and they take part in different activities.”

Ms Houston said City environmental education officers at the nature reserve taught the girls how to remove alien vegetation, test water quality, and recognise animals in the wetlands.

Oaklands High Grade 9 pupil, Chelsea Simons, 15, said the project had changed how she saw the environment and she had grown close to the other girls.

“Before the programme, I did not go out much; I have grown a bond with them, and I consider them my sisters.”

She chose Planting Peace for the title of her short film because “when you are in nature all you can do is remain calm. The plants don’t judge you, and when you are planting trees it’s when you are calm”.

Phoenix High Grade 9 Jadine Grandeling, 15, said the project offered an escape from poverty and violence. “Sitting at home, we live a life of poverty. Whenever we go to school, we must worry about our safety and worry about where we are going to run when the next gunshots go off.”

With the project, she said, “I can express myself, be myself, and I enjoy listening to the calm of the trees and birds.”

Her film, My Fynbos Tuin, she said, was meant to show that “no matter where you come from, or whatever your background is, you can always inspire and empower those around you”.

Ms Houston said Brave Rock Girl had been around since 2010 and its main goal was to help adolescent girls overcome intergenerational poverty.

Visit brave-girl.org or call Ms Houston at 072 760 3650 for more information.

Families of the girls came to support them at the certificate ceremony held at the Edith Stephens Nature Reserve in Philippi.