Each month we thought that we would also include a quote from Quaker Faith and Practice or from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.
QF&P 13.01. It is part of our commitment as members of the religious Society of friends that we try to live our lives under the guidance of the Spirit. Whatever the service to which we are called, whether it be great or small, our meeting can uphold us in prayer and other ways.
Collection this Month
Canon Collins Education and Legal Trust- providing bursaries for South African children to go to school and college plus legal aid assistance. Canon Collins was a leading figure in the anti-apartheid movement.
If you wish to donate but can’t attend at the Meeting House, please send a cheque to Rachel Bach made out to “Ipswich Quakers”. Please send this before the end of the month concerned
What is your opinion about “Afterwords” or “afterthoughts”, “bridging time” or “not quite ministry” – the opportunity to speak after Meeting, after the handshakes and circle but before notices and tea? I experienced it recently in Ireland and I believe it is common in the USA and in some UK Meetings. It is not meant to be a discussion but the chance to say something that came into your mind during Meeting, in the Silence, that you feel need to be shared but may not carry the weight of vocal ministry.
Tottenham Meeting describe it as “a short period of reflection in which people may share thoughts or anything that occurred during meeting for worship”.
“It is an opportunity to share with the meeting thoughts and insights which come to us during the silence or other matters we have on our minds which may not have led to spoken ministry”. Abingdon Meeting
Oxford Meeting “Some meetings are followed by a few minutes of “Afterwords” during which we may share more informally thoughts and concerns that we have been holding during the time of stillness”.
Some people may feel freer and more comfortable to deliver the message outside of the actual silence. The editors would be interested in your responses.
Voluntary Work on a Wildlife Refuge in South Africa
by Peter Howard
I think most people at Quakers are both aware of my passion for Natural History (in particular birds) and it’s almost pivot role in my emotional and mental stability, and indeed my overall wellbeing. There have been several low points in my life (as there are inevitably in everyone’s) but I can always “lift” my spirits by the fascination, interest and beauty of the diversity of species of this planet. This can be either by watching Natural History programmes on Television or by experiencing at first hand the planet’s natural history and biodiversity. (Both current and even extinct!)
To contribute and give back to the wellbeing of this wildlife and experience a new county in my beloved continent of Africa, thus seemed the ideal scenario. There were no Religious connotations in this trip only to immerse myself in and “give back” to Natural History and the wellbeing of some individual birds/animals. So I embarked on such an event at the beginning of October 2015. When I return for these trips people always ask me if I have had a good holiday- my usual answer is that I do not go on holidays, I go on events!
I found this Wildlife Refuge on the Internet and after a few e-mails between us to ensure the domestic arrangements were suitable I set off on my 27 hour journey to get there .Its location was around 70 kms from Port Elizabeth-a place I had never even heard of-which is on the south coast (very bottom) of South Africa around 800 kms east of Cape Town. That I had heard of and had a very rough idea of its location.
Unfortunately there were no direct flights to Port Elizabeth and one had to transit in Johannesburg-making it a long but not unpleasant journey. As with all details on Internet sites one cannot fully assess and be aware of the “feel” of the location .However all the domestic arrangement were as promised but what I was unprepared for was the “scale” of the operation!
Many Southern African Livestock farmers have now given up cattle ranching and are now into Wildlife Conservation Tourism (Farming?). The owner of the refuge had a slight variation on this idea operating a Wildlife Refuge where people could bring injured wildlife or unwanted pets. He would also “purchase “other birds and animals to “enhance” the rescued wildlife into a “business” which was open to the public at a very nominal charge.
I think in reality the “Refuge” was only a small although an important part of the operation whereas he was really satisfying his passion for birds.
There were many aviaries and secure cages on the site housing a vast collection of birds. There were also in addition a few animals-some which had been provided with medical treatment or reared as abandoned young, and others where healthy animals had been purchased to enhance the biodiversity of the “Refuge” and attract visitors. It was also an educational centre as the owner encouraged visits by local school children. A curious mixture but all wildlife!
All the aviaries were enormous walk in types where all the birds had good flight opportunities. My natural dislike of “caged” birds was overcome during the stay and all were exceeding well taken care of with great care shown by the owners for their wildlife with a very balanced diet twice a day, top up of water on hot days (we had about 3 very hot days-it was late Spring time there with the site been well into the southern hemisphere)
How many were rescued, how many were purchased was difficult to access. And I did not pursue this line of inquiry with the owner! However the owner believed he had around 10000 birds on the site! He did rescue wildlife though as was illustrated by a time spent feeding abandoned young birds and “arrival” of a raft of Egrets (about 50 in number plus many eggs) which had been displaced from their extensive nesting colony by the local Airport authorities as a possible safety hazard to their planes. They were brought to the park in a fury of action and publicity one afternoon
The other matter that I had not anticipated, again linked to the scale of the operation, was the number of volunteers there. There were around 30 when I arrived. Most had either just finished school (i.e. 18 years old) or University (i.e. 22).There were a few slight older Volunteers (around 25-30).
The overwhelming gender was female. Out of the 30 there were 4 males and on one occasion that had diminished to 2 male including me! There were constant coming and goings with people staying between 2-16 weeks .I stayed for 4 weeks. We all had to pay to be there. But all food-there were substantial amounts of good standard was provided. The accommodation was clean and adequate.
The volunteers played a fundamental role in the maintenance of the Refuge as a viable “business” .Not only did they devote many “free” hours in the daily operation of the site with feeding the birds/animals but because we had to pay for the accommodation/food etc. the site owners were probably gaining financially from this income.
Nobody would begrudge the owners this income as many were gaining valuable experience in their “gap “year in a totally new environment which would benefit them immensely in “life” development!
As everybody worked well together often in rotating pairs, and respected each other, I did not feel marginalised by my age. The work mainly consisted of feeding the birds and animals. The food was made and placed on metal dishes-size of dinner plate- which the volunteers would take, in pairs into the Aviaries .There were other random jobs to keep the site in a good order of cleanliness and upkeep of the site.
The weather was also a matter that I had not anticipated as it was generally much cooler that I had imagined and very changeable. We had the three very hot days but on other days we have storms with excessive rain and strong winds, followed by the evitable power cuts.
The rainfall was so excessive one day that the large internal site earth banked dam with an internal site road on the top burst causing considerate financial loss to the owner and much work to reinstate the dam (after the rain had subdued).It was only used to store water for the farm animals and to regulate the water flow in the stream (obviously not very well) and not for drinking water supply purposes.
South Africa is an extremely large country with a wide range of climates. North of Johannesburg where the most famous of South Africa’s wildlife parks (The Kruger) is located, it is hot and very dry. Not what one would have anticipated this very wet climate but been close to the sea they were almost like storms coming from the sea
We worked for 5 days per week and on the two free days, Volunteers often “clubbed” together to go into the local town(Jeffrey’s Bay ) for R & R-including surfing or go the local Safari park or Whale Watching(from Port Elizabeth).
Most of the wildlife in this part of South Africa is now fenced in by these so called “wildlife farmers” .Even a large nearby National Reserves we went to –Addo Elephant Park is fenced in.
There were a few Black workers on the “farm” and they seemed very subdued and subservient, compared to many exuberant black people I have had contact with in other countries. This may be just a rural cult as the town “black “people seemed much more outgoing and worldly! There was no attempt to have a “community” interface for the Volunteers and in the welcoming handbook contact was actively discouraged.
It could have been due to the years of oppression that the indigent black community had experienced that they seemed very subdued! This after been to Uganda the previous year where it was all community based seemed to be a loss!
I have over 900 photographs for the trip. Many of birds in the Aviaries but some of “wilder” animals in other locations.
Four highlights stand in my mind, apart for the continual contact with the birds when you entered the aviaries to feed them.
Firstly the dawn chorus and energy exhibited by the birds in the Main Aviary was almost overwhelming with the action and noise. All shapes, sizes and colours darting around although never bumping into each other are creating any interference!
Secondary waking up one Sunday morning and looking across the small Valley to see the Park Giraffes in full view (They were fenced in but difficult to see due to the extensive scrub cover and I had only seem them once in 3 weeks)) .Not a usual sight for Sunday morning!
Thirdly some very tiny Hoopoe (my favourite bird in the world) chicks had been found by a local resident in his garden. These had been brought to the Refuge and were been hand feed .First with liquid through a small pipette then with solid feed-a mixture of egg, porridge etc.
The other was on the last morning having a photo call with the owners pet” fully grown “wild Cheetah. The lady owner got you involved with the cheetah by her “ticking” it over its chin. Whereby it purred just like a domestic cat. You then took over the task yourself solely.
Yes it was a very different and enjoyable “event”
Some time ago, I was driving somewhere when a feeling of complete contentment and a golden glow inside enveloped me. I have had this experience several times before over the years and I don’t know what brings it on. It seems to be completely random. It also seems ridiculous to feel a colour inside but that is how it manifests for me.
I felt thankful for everything I had, for all the people who I had met and engaged with throughout my life, for all those wonderful people still in my life and for all the amazing things I’ve been able to do and experience. Thankful is a strange word, as to whom am I thankful? I don’t believe in a supernatural entity. I am grateful to everyone and everything that has existed in my life. I am happy within myself for being able to be me.
If I died this minute, it wouldn’t matter as I am content.
Each day leading up to Thanksgiving, many of my American, religious family and friends write on “facebook”, of their thanks for something or other in their lives. It actually got tedious of yet another “I am thankful for my beautiful children” etc. However, I wonder if we often stop and consider our bounties and are truly contented with what we have.
That glow, that love inside, that I have felt, to me is “God”.