Esther Matthew, EWT’s Drylands Conservation Programme, estherm@ewt.org.za

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has been operating in Loxton (Northern Cape) for the past 15 years, the EWT’s Drylands Conservation Programme based in this one-primary-school-town. The Loxton school, JJ Booysen, burned down in 2017, including the school’s computer room, which has severely limited learner and community member exposure to technology. In 2018, we opened the EWT E-learning Centre, with support from Rand Merchant Bank, to fill the gap. To date, we have hosted three six-week courses for Grade 7s (11-13 years of age), two Google Earth courses for students and emerging farmers, and a photography course for teenagers that we hope to host once a year going forward. The centre was also used in 2019 to host adult literacy classes.

The Laslappies are a local, all-women needlework cooperative based in Loxton. Their cooperative was established in 2018, and their needlework was originally inspired by the Critically Endangered Riverine Rabbit occurring in the surrounding area. Since the start of the cooperative, the ladies have steadily grown their business and are now creating everything from curtains to face masks, both for the community and larger commercial companies.

The EWT’s Drylands Conservation Programme supports these ladies’ efforts by providing them with additional opportunities and training, and the Laslappies started their first computer skills classes this month at the EWT’s E-learning Centre in Loxton. In these classes, the ladies will learn how to create documents, send emails, scan and print documents, and other skills beneficial for their business activities. We want to give special thanks to our two local volunteers, Llewellyn and Dante, for hosting these sessions. We hope to one day expand and improve the centre to provide training to larger groups of learners and community members.

This initiative is made possible by Rand Merchant Bank.