Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Discovering WESSA

Image credit: www.wessa.org.za

I was walking through VP one day, minding my own business, when I saw a glowing radiance in front of me, in the form of a booth that WESSA, the Wilderness and Environment Society of South Africa, had set up. It was covered with beautiful posters and pamphlets about environmental education, stewardship, alternative energy, ecosystems, green efforts . . . all the things I love the most. I stood for a few minutes just admiring the booth and soaking up all its environmental goodness, so proud of VP for holding something so beautiful and wonderful, then gathered up a variety of newsletters and pamphlets from the table and set out to enjoy them. This is when I learned about all the great conservation efforts that WESSA is involved with, including the Eco-Schools Programme, which encourages and helps to fund environmental education and sustainability programs within local schools. I had no idea that such a thing existed here in South Africa, but I immediately decided that I wanted to get involved. So I stopped off at the internet across from VP and emailed the local chapter of WESSA to show my interest, then went to their website to find out more.

As it turns out, WESSA has been around since 1926, and has the vision "to achieve a South Africa which is wisely managed by all to ensure long-term environmental sustainability" (www.wessa.org.za). They're involved in all kinds of projects from wetland protection to beach clean-ups to environmental education, and produce publications for adults and children which spread environmental awareness and give ways to get involved with community actions. It really is a wonderful organization. They're not small, either: there are 52 WESSA branches across South Africa, the nearest one in Beacon Bay, which is in East London just past Nahoon. This is exactly the kind of organization I'd been looking for since before I arrived in South Africa, and it just makes me so happy to know that one really exists, and has an office so close to where I stay. I only wish that I'd found them earlier.

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