All teenagers are different. But many are obsessed with shopping, going to parties, hanging out with friends, gaming and using social media. Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg's favourite pastimes are hanging out at home with her dogs or her family and walking and hiking. At 19 years old, she is still a teenager but is known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action against climate change. In one of her inspirational speeches, Greta said, “We live in very dark times in many different ways, and it feels like the situation in our society is getting worse at the same time as the planet is getting worse. Everything is moving in the wrong direction, and we cannot fix the climate without fixing all these other issues — they have to be combined.”
Meadow Timmermans (11 years old) visited Morukuru Family Madikwe with her family, who was celebrating a special milestone in their grandparents’ life. Meadow, too recognised that things are “moving in the wrong direction”. Just like Greta, Meadow decided to take action to make a difference. Read about Meadow’s trip to Morukuru Family and how this life-changing experience sparked her sense of social justice. Motivated by her experience at Morukuru Family Madikwe, Meadow set in motion her own project for change.
Tell us about your visit to South Africa and Madikwe Game Reserve. What was special about it? I loved visiting Madikwe Game Reserve with my family for my grandparents' anniversary. We had a great time. I loved the game drives and seeing all the beautiful wild animals in their own environment!! That is something different from going to the zoo. You never know what animal you will see. We also saw a Lion that killed and then ate a zebra. Sad, but also cool to watch. We also assisted the rangers to collect the DNA of a rhino! That was a great experience!! We helped to take blood samples of the rhino. We even were allowed to pick a name for the rhino, we called her Dolly!! So now she is registered in Madikwe Game Reserve as Dolly.
You spent time with the kids from the local community – how did that make you feel? That was really nice! My grandparents bought presents for the children, like pencils and notebooks. They were so happy with these. This made me a bit sad because they were so happy with very basic things like pencils and a notebook. In Holland, we consider stationery something normal and nothing special. We played games together. That was really fun! We taught them some typical Dutch games, and they taught us African games. And though we could not really understand each other, we had a lovely afternoon.
Why did you decide to raise money and do a collection for the school kids? When I got back to Holland, I found out that my friend Sophie wanted to do a school project, but she did not know which foundation to support. So I told my classmates my story about our visit to Madikwe. That's when Sophie and I planned to do this project together. We started brainstorming about what we could do to help and how we could keep the costs as low as possible. We decided to do something nice for children who are economically disadvantaged. We wanted to make a difference and make them happy.
How did you go about raising money and selecting the goods to donate? We decided to collect school stuff for the children in South Africa. We walked around our neighbourhood and went door to door, asking people if they had some school supplies they would like to donate for our school project. Lots of people gave us nice stuff. We collected a huge box. Then we researched what it would cost to ship it to South Africa. Because that was a lot of money for such a big box, we asked our teacher if we could write something in our school newsletter. So we did and asked the parents of the children of our school if they would like to donate some money for our project. Luckily we collected more than enough money! So our box could be sent to you!!
We are so grateful for your efforts – what would you like to say to other kids your age about trying to make a difference in the world? Try to make a difference! We had a lot of fun figuring out this project. It was a good lesson to see what it takes before our project was finished. Our teacher made us figure it out all by ourselves. That was not easy sometimes, but we were proud that we managed to work it all out. It is nice to make other kids happy when they are less fortunate.
What would you like to be when you grow up? I would really love to be a veterinarian! Maybe even a zoo veterinarian! Because I love animals! And I am not scared of any of them. When we helped the rangers to collect the DNA of that rhino, I felt so great. It was nice to help the rhino and made her a bit more safe from poachers.
We would like to make you our first official Morukuru Goodwill Ambassador – how do you feel about that? I would be honoured! And I hope to be able to visit Madikwe Game Reserve again in the future.