In June 2017, the Foundation was delighted to make a contribution to the funds raised by employees of Clyde & Co to support the work that a group of Clydes personnel and friends were undertaking for LIV Village. LIV Village is a community North of Durban, South Africa, providing holistic residential care for over 150 orphaned and vulnerable children. The LIV model "is long term cluster foster care where children have a sense of belonging in a supportive community, modelling an African village lifestyle”.
The Clyde team's focus was fencing for the horse paddocks and the equestrian arena. They spent a lot of time with Donna Van Wyk, the riding instructor (and a former top showjumper herself), who shared the story and vision for the LIV horses. Many of the horses (there are 9 of them) have a similar background to the children – they were rescued from abusive and neglected situations. Many of them also arrived at the Village traumatised, angry, neglected and unloved. Like the children, they are being restored and their lives rebuilt.
The horses arrived in October 2016 and have had a transforming effect on the Village. Donna and the team speak of children who had serious developmental and behaviour issues being drawn to the horses, and seeing their behavioural patterns and general approach to life completely turn around. In the past, when children got angry and ran away, the LIV team would have to go into the community to track them down. Now, invariably, they simply head to the horses to find the child there – speaking to the horses. The Clydes team were introduced to Zizi, a lovely young girl who is practising the art of 'horse whispering' and watched her keep a previously abused horse under control through her voice and gentle handling. Dillon, a young lad, has taken over looking after a horse named Marvin, who bears the scars of his previous owners' abuse. And they met Tabusi, a young boy who previously had serious anger management problems, calmly grooming and working in the stables.
Until now, the horses have roamed free in one increasingly-overgrazed paddock. Riding lessons have taken place on the school sports field. The Clydes team's job, and the money that was raised and to which the Foundation contributed, was to assist with changing that. They set about uprooting and moving existing fencing, and planting 60 fence poles to demarcate 4 new inter-connected paddocks. The equestrian arena is going to end up being around 50m x 30m, which is quite a bit bigger than originally envisaged. The area was being cleared and levelled, and ought to be ready by the end of July.
Tich Smith, whose vision it was to build the village, also shared the background and heart behind the Village and you can read more on their website:
A Smile, Hug and Charlie Project