Starting off their busy day yesterday, Prince Harry and Meghan visited Monwabisi Beach in Cape Town, to spend time with the NGO Waves for Change Charity. They also visited the oldest mosque in the city and celebrated Heritage Day, before ending the day with a reception.
Focusing on the mental health of vulnerable children, Waves for Change believes that sport can vastly help to improve the lives of young South Africans, particularly by means of surfing. Housed in a number of shipping containers on the beach, the charity was started nine years ago, out of a van by Tim Conibear and now proudly helps over 1,200 disadvantaged youth from the surrounding areas.
Due to the amount of violence in many places, the charity feels it is of the utmost importance to bring youngsters from these brutal areas to the tranquility of the beach, where they can learn to surf and gain the strength to stay away from the crime and gangs that surround them.
Through the loving guidance of the charity’s mentors, the young children are given the tools which enable them to choose a positive path in life, and in turn, has a significant and compelling effect on their mental health. The feelings of joy, elation and pride seem to radiate off of the participants as they are blissfully surfing one wave after another.
The Duke and Duchess spent an enjoyable time chatting with both the surf mentors and participants. Harry and Meghan both took part in a mental health exercise for positive thinking called the Power Hand. Surrounded by a large group of mentors and participants, the royal couple enjoyed a bit of meditation time as well.
Harry and Meghan also took part in a discussion with Dr. Thomas Maes, Director of the Commonwealth Litter Programme and Loyiso Dunga, a marine Biologist from the Sea Change Project. They talked about the impact of micro plastics in the ocean and showed the couple a demonstration of their micro laboratory.
The Sea Change Project is a group of ocean scientists who use film, journalism, and activism to educate and in turn, help to protect our world’s oceans.
While at the beach, the Duke and Duchess were afforded the opportunity to visit The Lunchbox Fund charity. This charity provides meals for orphaned and vulnerable South African schoolchildren in rural areas and townships. Currently, over 12 million children are living in poverty throughout this region.
On a personal note for the Sussexes, the Lunchbox Fund was one of the four charities that the couple asked the public to donate to, in lieu of sending them gifts for the birth of their son Archie in May. The response for the charity was life-changing.
Topaz Page-Green, the founder of the charity stated: “We feed 27,000 children every school day but the support from the Duke and Duchess has meant we have been able to feed an additional 750 children. It’s a tremendous gift and shows the positive impact of their use of social media.
“We received $35,000 in donations and to get this recognition has been life changing. It’s amplified global awareness for children in need in South Africa. All of this positive energy enables us to continue the work we are doing on the ground.”
In the kitchen, Harry and Meghan were introduced to some of the women who cook the meals daily for the children. Called the “food mothers”, these ladies were previously unemployed and now they work in the kitchens of over 850 schools that work with the charity. With both charities working hand in hand, the positive impact on the lives of these defenceless children is amazing.
When asked what she felt the most pressing global issue was when it comes to mental health, the Duchess expressed: “It’s just getting people to talk about it and talk to each other, right? And you see that no matter where you are in the world, if you’re a small community or a Township, if you’re in a big city – it’s that everyone is dealing with a different version of the same thing.
“Globally, I think there’s a bit of a consciousness crisis, and so the fact we’re able to be here together to see on the ground so much good work that’s being done, just because people are willing to talk to each other about it and someone’s willing to listen is huge.”
Additionally, Harry added: “I think most of the stigma is around mental illness, we need to separate the two… mental health, which is every single one of us, and mental illness, which could be every single one of us. But, I think they need to be separated, the mental health element touches on so much of what we’re exposed to, these experiences that these kids and every single one of us have been through.
“Everyone has experienced trauma or likely to experience trauma at some point during their lives. We need to try, not to eradicate it, but to learn from previous generations so there’s not a perpetual cycle.”
The Duke of Sussex went on to say that there was an entire generation of children who had no role models at all, but now they were being given an opportunity. While speaking about the nearby townships, Harry shared: “It’s amazing to think that just on the other side of here you’ve got tin huts with all these kids with nothing, and bringing them together a nice hot meal provided by Lunchbox Fund, and the sea of which they’ve been terrified of most of their lives. Now they can swim, they can surf!”
It was quite a moving and inspirational morning for the Sussexes.
While Meghan made her way back to the High Commissioner’s residence to spend some time with Archie, Harry’s scheduled trip to Seal Island had to be cancelled due to some extremely rough seas out by the island. Instead, the Cape Town’s Maritime Police unit brought The Duke of Sussex, in his capacity as Captain General of the Royal Marines, to Kalk Bay Harbour, where he was greeted by the UK Defence Advisor, Colonel Alan Lister OBE of the Royal Marines.
The Prince was then introduced to Captain Robert Smith and Marine Timothy Lombard, two Royal Marine Trainers who have been helping to train the Cape Town Marine Unit in combatting poachers. Captain Smith and the Duke discussed the different aspects of the training process and what all was involved.
The Royal Marines have been providing training to the MPU and The Duke found out more about their work in combatting the poaching of Abalone (a type of sea snail), one of South Africa's illegal wildlife trade concerns. pic.twitter.com/tQWvzjOqWl
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 24, 2019
He stated: “Harry was very engaged and enjoyed chatting with us. He wanted to get a better picture of how the poachers operate and how sophisticated their operations are. They could be on operations every single evening and even now during the day so the problem is fairly significant.”
“When the abalone snail is exported to China, it fetches a price comparable to gold. The maritime unit have 300km of coastline to police and only 30 personnel. Harry was really interested in the environmental issues and how dedicated the staff in the maritime unit are to helping the issue. It was an authentic experience for Harry and it was a great pleasure and privilege to meet our Captain General.”
Due to over-exploitation and poaching, the number of abalone found has reached an all-time low. It is thought that around 2000 tonnes of abalone are bagged by poachers each year – which is 20 times the amount allowed. In Eastern Asia, this delicacy can sell for hundreds of dollars per kilo, with one plate costing as much as £420.
As 24th September is the public holiday in South Africa known as Heritage Day, when the nation recognises its traditions, culture, and diversity, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex paid a visit to the neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. The town welcomed the couple with an incredible display of festivities amongst it’s backdrop of brightly coloured houses.
Their first stop was the Auwal Mosque. The mosque was built in 1794 and is viewed as a symbol of the freedom of former slaves to worship as Muslims. The Auwal is not only the first mosque built in South Africa but the oldest one as well.
As a sign of respect, The Duchess of Sussex made sure to cover herself with a traditional headscarf and long dress before entering the mosque. Harry and Meghan were treated to a viewing of the first known manuscript of the Quran in South Africa. It is thought that this copy of the Quran was written down from memory by an imam while he was imprisoned. The imam was incarcerated on the nearby Robben Island during a time when slaves were not allowed to worship Islam.
The royal couple also met with some religious leaders from the area to discuss the diversity in Bo-Kaap’s multi faith community and the rise of inter-community tensions that have increased over the last few years.
One of the town’s residents, Shamielah Samsodian and her family, welcomed the Duke and Duchess into their home for a delicious bounty of tea and local delicacies. Shamielah expressed: “We are used to cooking for big parties and family so it’s no effort. They tried koeksisters (a traditional South African sweet) and apple crumble.”
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More from Heritage Day in Bo Kaap! In amongst the beautiful colour of the Bo Kaap houses, Shamielah Samsodian and her family also opened their doors to the Duke and Duchess, welcoming them into their home to share stories – and importantly – share their food. Happy Heritage Day! ••• Heritage Day celebrated the great diversity of cultures, beliefs and traditions that make up the rainbow nation. Bo Kaap streets filled with colour and music while Their Royal Highnesses were welcomed to one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Cape Town. The area has seen inter-community tension rise over the last few years, yet days like today show how faith, traditions, food and music bring people together, and celebrate the things that unite each and every one of us. The Duke and Duchess are so happy to have been invited to the festivities in Bo Kaap today, and were overwhelmed by the amazing welcome. #RoyalVisitSouthAfrica • Video ©️SussexRoyal
To end the Duke and Duchess’ full day, the royal couple were hosted by the British High Commissioner to South Africa at his residence. Mr. Nigel Casey greeted Harry and Meghan while an African choir sang as a signal to the guests of their arrival.
At the reception, Meghan and Harry chatted with various inspiring leaders from both the older and younger generations.
One young future leader, Jade Bothma, explained to the couple how at just 12 years old she started a charity called Oceano Reddentes. Jade decided that every time she went to the beach, she would pick up discarded plastic and make eco bricks. Jade would spread the word to other beachgoers and surfing programs to do the same. Once there are enough bricks made, she would like to use the bricks to create houses for the homeless. Her motto is: saving the sea one piece of plastic at a time!
In addition to youth leaders, a mix of leaders from the community were also on hand to celebrate the modern partnership that the UK shares with South Africa. Many different sectors were represented, from conservation to female township leaders, young entrepreneurs and Commonwealth and Chevening scholars.
The sheer essence of South Africa’s diversity was truly on display and thoroughly enjoyed by the Duke and Duchess.