Giving back on a Greek beach

Giving back on a Greek beach

The Ketleys continue to recount their adventure as volunteers for turtle conservation in Greece – proving that giving back can be both fun and rewarding.

Each nest is carefully identified with a beach sector code, a unique number and date of discovery, or laying if an earlier team had observed a laying turtle (she would be tagged and measured). Sometimes a nest is discovered by predation (by stray dogs or foxes), but in every case the nest is protected with a metal grid and anchored by bamboo stakes or flat stones. A “do not disturb” warning sign in three languages is placed at the nest, with the necessary identification information.

Guide and voluntree excavating a turtle nest on the beach
Eunice ( GVI leader) and Roger excavate a nest

On our first day on the beach, we immediately saw a number of nests … and, with dismay, the many (illegal) summer beach bars (one named Caribbean Bar!) right on the beach with semi-permanent grass umbrellas and sun beds – right amongst the turtle nests, competing for beach space. The fear is that these bars contribute to light pollution and so prevent turtles from laying or lead to the disorientation of the hatchlings. Beach goers had also constructed less permanent bamboo dwellings of their own, and there was evidence too of beach fires – all potentially obstructing a hatchling’s dash for the sea! Our task was to photograph (surreptitiously) all these obstructions and count the umbrellas and sun beds for reporting to the authorities. In addition, we would come across vehicular tracks on the beach, again with the potential to carelessly destroy established nests. We were warned not to antagonise beach-bar owners or their patrons in fear of deliberate destruction of nets or nesting sites in retaliation – a delicate balancing act, complicated somewhat by the language barrier.

Safeguarding survival of a species

If we came across hatchling tracks, we recorded this, and then swept the tracks away in case there was a further hatching the next night to be added to the tally. Sometimes we came across a “mass hatching” – a nest’s first hatching of 20 or more babies – and, if even luckier, we would witness a hatching and then ensure that the baby turtles made it safely to the water’s edge. It was important not to handle the hatchlings – they had to exercise their flippers and have time for their in-built GPS systems to register their whereabouts. If a hatchling showed signs of disorientation, we could dig a shallow trench to the sea for it to follow … a necessary human intervention. Hatchlings showing signs of stress or fatigue were reburied, and the place marked with a bamboo stake.

It being the end of the season, our main task was excavating “expired” nests: carefully

Turtle hatchling making tracks to the sea
Hatchling making tracks to the sea

Locating the nest’s egg chamber by removing the protective grid and scraping away the surface sand, then digging down into the nest proper to remove all the eggs. On occasion we found live hatchlings, later to be “escorted” to the sea. All hatched eggs are counted and recorded, and unhatched eggs broken open and examined to see if embryos existed, or if there was no evidence of fertilisation, and then total clutch size recorded.

My most successful nest was 125 hatched eggs, but the record (held for two successive weeks) was held by the American volunteer: 133 hatched eggs – a remarkable outcome.  Initially, our tasks were quite gruelling, not the 5km walk, but more the regular getting down and up off the soft sand while excavating nests. I developed a “prayer mat” to protect my knees from the rough sand paper! It got better as the days progressed, and I’m proud to say that we never slowed any of the teams down, and completed the tasks assigned to us … perhaps to the surprise of our much younger colleagues! While on beach surveys we engaged with local and foreign visitors (mainly from Germany, Austria and France), many very interested in what we were doing – in some cases, they gladly offered to assist with shepherding hatchlings to the water’s edge.

Turtle hatchlings emerging from the nest
Hatchlings emerging from the nest

Such were our tasks for the two weeks – with a visit over the intervening weekend to the local historic town of Kyparissia. We had great fun with literally hands-on work with one of the most endangered species in the Mediterranean, living in a quiet area near a traditional fishing town. With the thrill of watching the hatchlings head for the sea, we knew that, if we were not able to make a difference in the two weeks, we certainly made a lasting one-off contribution to the preservation of endangered turtles and the wonder of God’s creation!

ARCHELON website – www.archelon.gr

GVI – from which can be found projects in South Africa – wildlife conservation, including Elephant research in Limpopo.

If you missed the beginning of this account of the Ketley’s Greek adventure, click on the article below:



And for Roger’s Record of Turtle facts, click on the article below:



Roger Ketley’s Record of Turtle facts

Here are some fascinating facts about these endangered creatures.

If you have missed Louise and Roger Ketley’s account of their amazing adventure in Greece as part of a team of volunteers for turtle conservative, then click here: 



Here are some fascinating facts about these endangered creatures.

  • There are seven species of sea turtle worldwide, all descended from the Archelon, a now extinct prehistoric reptile (100 to 66 million years old); this late Cretaceous turtle grew to 4m in length, twice the size of any present-day turtle. The largest Archelon fossil, found in the Pierre Shale of South Dakota in the 1970s, measures more than 4m long, and about 5m wide from flipper to flipper.
  • Sea turtle populations are under threat worldwide – a direct result of the degradation of the nesting beaches, accidental capture by fishing vessels, commercial use and pollution.
  • Greece hosts about 60% of the total number of nests of the loggerhead turtle (Carreta carreta) laid in the Mediterranean. Every summer, from May to end August, hundreds of female turtles come out at night to the nesting areas of Peloponnesus – by instinct they return to the beaches of their birth, using their internal magnetic compass. There are few places in the world where this occurs and fewer in the Mediterranean. They dig an egg chamber in the sand to deposit about 120 fragile eggs the size of golf balls (about 4cm in diameter). The eggs must remain undisturbed in the warm sand for about 60 days to incubate. The temperature of the sand seems to determine the hatchlings’ sex – warmer sand makes female hatchlings more likely. From mid-July to end October, the hatchlings emerge from their nests, usually at night, and race towards the sea. It can take up to three days for the full clutch of eggs to hatch and hatchlings to exit the nest.
  • A female loggerhead turtle can lay up to seven times per season, every two to three years. Sadly, even under natural conditions, an estimated one in 1,000 hatchlings reaches sexual maturity, and, for loggerhead turtles, this can take 12 to 15 years.

ARCHELON 

GVI  from which can be found projects in South Africa – wildlife conservation, including Elephant research in Limpopo.

Now you can volunteer from the comfort of your couch!

Want to give back but don’t know how?  Want to be involved but you are somewhat home-bound?  Want to make a contribution but quite busy?

The organisation For Good, has made giving back easy!  You can contribute your time, skills and expertise to helping organisations achieve their charitable aims.  Become part of the Virtual Volunteers.

By connecting to causes online you can get involved with social change in a real and impactful way – and all without having to rework your busy schedule.

If you can’t find anything at For Good online that speaks to you, think about CREATING AN OFFER of something you can do – giving back on your own terms! Click here to see what is needed.

Here are some ideas:

  • Researching subjects,
  • Writing, editing or writing proposals, press releases, newsletter articles
  • translating documents
  • developing material for a curriculum
  • providing legal / business / medical / agricultural or any other expertise
  • counselling people
  • tutoring or mentoring students

To find more ways to do your bit to make the world a better place, contact contact@forgood.co.za

Giving back is good for you

If you have experienced a life planning meeting at Chartered, or attended one of the RetiremeantTM workshops, you will have encountered the colourful and very useful Wheel of Balance.

The Balance Wheel is a tool that Chartered Life Planners use in their meetings with clients. The purpose of this approach is to assist clients to create a balanced and holistic life, one that takes all eight categories into account.

Because Chartered believes in living its own philosophy, each year the Chartered Family commits to giving time and money to support those who are championing give-back initiatives in their communities.  The give-back category in the Balance Wheel is essential, we believe, to living a well-rounded and content life.

Chartered aims to give back across a number of projects:  in education, in animal welfare, in sharing our expertise in financial planning, in caring for vulnerable people.  In addition, the Chartered Family participates in ad hoc fund-raising projects such as Tekkie Tax Day, Casual Day and 67 Minutes for Mandela Day.  For the latter, the Chartered Family created a number of hampers for the staff of the Baby Moses home for abandoned babies. These days are co-ordinated by new staff member,

This year, members of the Chartered Family ran Financial Literacy workshops for the public, as part of the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa’s broader programme to educate the South African community.  The programme includes essential skills such as budgeting, managing debt, saving and planning your finances, and runs throughout the year.  Chartered also ran these workshops with the staff of LEAP Science and Maths School Alexandra.

Chartered Legacy & Trust provided invaluable services to the staff of our long-time partner, Iphutheng Primary School in Alexandra, by providing advice on Wills, and helping those staff to set up valid Wills.  This will be an ongoing relationship, as Wills are reviewed every year to remain an accurate reflection of testator’s wishes.

This year it was Border Collie Rescue that received two visits from the Chartered Family, to paint and plant and play.  This project has had an influx of animals from deceased farmers, and so was very grateful for the donation of plants, food and toys.

Also caring for animals, our Family responded to a crisis for water at shelters in Cape Town by collecting bottled water.  This was the Water for Paws temporary project that enjoyed much support. Our environmentally conscious Tanya Correia continues to challenge the Chartered Family to be aware of the impact of plastic on the environment.  She drove a challenge to recycle plastic for owl houses – an initiative with a dual outcome: homes for these amazing feathered creatures and repurposing plastic.

Partnering with Women At The Threshing Floor for the fourth year, Chartered supported the Winter and Christmas Outreaches by this not-for-profit organisation that helps child-headed households in Alexandra.  The ladies of Chartered Tax again threw their weight behind the collection of stationery packs for the children.  The Chartered Family generously pitched in and added toiletries to the donations.

Finally, Chartered has been collecting clothing for youth work acceleration programme, Harambee.  This project prepares young, unemployed youth for interviews by running interview, CV and life workshops.  It has grown to 39 branched countrywide and has created significant corporate partnerships with well-known brands.

Chartered clients are always welcome to become involved with Chartered, in whatever capacity they wish.  You need only contact Tom Brukman or Kim Forbes.

Giving is Receiving

The festive season is fast approaching and if you’re anything like me, you already have a long list of gifts planned for all the special people in your life. There is much to be said about the joy of giving. Simply gifting someone with something, no matter how big or small, brings so much joy! The joy is not measured in the smile, the gratitude or the ‘thank you’, but in how it makes you feel.

Female posed on couch with a cappuccino and book
Kim Potgieter, Director and Head of Life Planning at Chartered Wealth Solutions

According to research, giving produces endorphins and studies have found evidence that the act of giving increases our sense of happiness. But what then of receiving?

Giving through growing our relationship

In order to give, there must be a receiver, and most of us are somewhat uncomfortable receiving. To receive graciously is to acknowledge the intention of the gift. Giving and receiving are reciprocal and something that happens in flow. Deepak Chopra says: “The universe operates through dynamic exchange . . .  giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe. In our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives.”

As I reflect on the client RetiremeantTM workshops that we hosted for the first time this year in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg, I realise how powerful this relationship of giving and receiving really is.

We were extremely touched by the feedback from these workshops. We loved hearing what Chartered means to our clients; how they value the support they receive from our RetiremeantTM Specialists, and appreciate our newsletters and events. It was an extremely humbling experience and we are so grateful for all the positive feedback and messages of gratitude.

Giving through sharing your stories

For us, the circle of giving and receiving is ever expanding as our relationship with our clients grows. We love giving back to our clients, whether it’s a special event, a workshop or a communique. But in return, we receive so much more. Without fail, after every single event with our clients, we bring home a wealth of wisdom, sincere stories and a deeper insight into what RetiremeantTM really means to our clients.

Thank you to all our clients who so openly and honestly share their real life experiences with us. There are many transitions in the RetiremeantTM years, and so many stories to share: stories of hope, of loss, of emotional strain, stories of new beginnings and exciting adventures, difficult stories, happy stories, RetiremeantTM stories. Whatever your story, it is a story worth knowing – and telling.

We treasure your stories and, with your approval, it is our privilege and pleasure to share them with other clients navigating the same transitions. And this is exactly why our giving-receiving relationship adds value to us and our clients. Your stories are inspirational, motivational and empowering. Your insights are a wonderful source of comfort to clients; it helps them know that there are people who share the same experiences, it helps them connect to a community of like-minded people and it provides wisdom and insight into dealing with the many transitions in retirement.

Thank you for your stories and for allowing us to share in your lives.

I hope that you have a wonderful festive season and return in the New Year with many more stories to share.

Warm regards

Preserving our history through joining Save the San

Our Retirementor, Jeunesse Park, has shown herself, through her writings, to have diverse interests – all directed to conservation and preservation. In her article, Jeunesse explains why saving an ancient culture is saving ourselves.

I recently joined an exceptional initiative that supports the continued survival of some of the earliest humans; they have the oldest DNA and are the last integrated hunter-gatherer community with a deep knowledge of the earth, plants and environment.

Through my work in this field, and as a human who hopes for a better future for our species, I feel strongly that helping these indigenous people, whose connection to Earth is ancient and valuable, can teach us so much.

Save the San

Save the San recognises Khoisan people as the original inhabitants of Southern Africa. The Ju/’hoansi San, or Bushmen, of the Nyae Nyae Conservancy in Namibia, are the final integrated San community allowed to hunt and gather for their survival. Sadly, they are extremely vulnerable, largely owing to an exceptionally low level of education: only 1% complete high school and none attend university!

This remote Nyae Nyae region has extremely inadequate school facilities that are hostile and alien to the community. Taken away from their families to attend school in another language, the Ju/’hoansi children are often confronted by wild animals as they walk long distances to school, and once there are bullied and intimidated. They have no transport and there is little access to building materials, school supplies, blankets, basic foods and support.

Over the last 11 years, Save the San has consulted and researched with this community, which realises the only way to preserve their identity and sustain their culture is through mother tongue education and skills, taught in early years, to survive in the modern world.

We are already training eight San teachers and the project will provide transport and water tank trailers, as well as support food gardens to enhance school attendance and the ability to learn. Save the San will cover salaries for matrons, janitors and other staff and the Ministry of Education will pay the teachers.

We now need support and partners. If you can contribute materially, or through helpful connections, contact jpark@progreen.co.za.

For more info, click here and here.

(You may enjoy reading Patricia Glyn’s book entitled: What Dawid knew – click here)

Two essential elements: Fire and Air

Breath is central to life.

Breathing is where our energy to live comes from and when we stop doing it … our time is over. 

Do you ever think about what we are breathing? Did you know that we are being exposed daily to dangerous levels of air pollution with significant impacts on our health and wellbeing? Yes, here in South Africa, particularly on the Highveld, air quality is often hazardous. I know because I now check an air quality App (called Plume) as often as I do the weather.

This journey of knowledge started for me in July when I visited family along the spectacular Northwest Pacific, USA. Our planned drive from Los Angeles to Seattle through national parks and conservation areas soon became an apocalyptic nightmare.

After San Francisco the skies grew grey; it was not cloud, but smoke. The atmosphere became increasingly oppressive, our eyes were stinging, and we were almost choking. By this time, I was no longer trying to see the barely visible landscape but trawling the internet for local fire updates and downloading an air quality App to find where the air might clear.

We drove through a summer inferno. Temperatures soared and the air was heavy from hundreds of fires burning from California to Canada. It was a horrifying experience.

Exhausted from the stress of the trip through so much smoke, we spent a night in a cheap motel in Oregon – no camping out, and grateful for the air conditioner. I have a newfound appreciation for quality air conditioners where the filters are regularly changed. Despite their energy usage (which I learned is greatly reduced), they can filter air pollutants.

We abandoned plans to visit Yosemite, closed due to the fires anyway, and joined thousands of holiday travelers on the busy coastal highway where most campsites were full, but where we could breathe easier.

The week at my uncle’s beautiful home on Hood Canal near Seattle was overshadowed by severe smoke from the 500 fires burning in Canada.  Citizens, especially the elderly, young and ill, were warned to stay indoors. Usually visible daily, I could not see the Olympia Mountains across the water, though the smoky sunsets were vivid.

Sadly, this is just the beginning of more searing summers to come as climate change ravages the planet and the air we breathe becomes more and more polluted. Oh, and on my return to Joburg in September, hoping to breathe freely again, the App indicated an Airpocalypse, the worst it could be, with most days since registering extremely high pollution.

Save Our Schools – Innovative Ideas to Reduce the Impact of the Cape Town Water Crisis

two jojo tanks with volunteersRetirementor, Jeunesse Park, shares her involvement with an organisation which has innovative ideas to reduce the impact of the Cape Town water crisis on the quality of education and the well-being of our children. This article serves as both warning and inspiration – work together and we can mitigate the effects of climate change.

After years of dreaming about living in Cape Town, I finally moved there just as it became one of the first major cities in the world to be running out of water.

Frustrated that the government was slow to act, I was delighted to be contacted by a new non-profit organisation, Save our Schools (SOS), who have some innovative ideas. They were introduced to me through my work with Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project and I joined them on World Water Day in March 2018.

In response to the negative impact water shortages have on sport and hygiene at schools, SOS has grown into a multi stakeholder network providing innovative water solutions for those in need. The hard-working SOS founders have achieved remarkable results in just one year, thanks to collaborative and dynamic partnerships.

Swish Properties was a first responder, providing non-potable water from the hundreds of thousands of litres they daily pump out of the basement of one of their properties. Isuzu constructed and has equipped SOS with 10 water tankers to transport tanks and water, as well as providing vehicles to facilitate the work. JoJo Tanks provides schools with water storage tanks and pump manufacturers Grundfos installs booster pumps and sets for SOS projects. Unilever donated an additional 35 water tanks and contributed to awareness events. Insurers Munich Re provided thousands of litres of bottled drinking water for schools and communities and Mountain Falls Spring Water has created a special SOS bottled water.

SOS Water Tank with two male African volunteersThe SOS team now includes a pool of internationally influential climate leaders, government and media partners, successful multinational companies, entrepreneurs, education and development leaders, engineers, water specialists and more.

Projects start with the delivery of water and the associated infrastructure to those in need and are buoyed by awareness, education and enterprise development initiatives.

Whilst the winter rains finally arrived in Cape Town, restrictions are still in place and climate scientists, water experts, insurance companies, activists and others warn that this is only the beginning.

Climate change will continue to wreak havoc on world weather.

The dire impacts of the water restrictions on the economy, tourism, agriculture and much else that contributes to our quality of life in Cape Town and South Africa, are already being realised.

We need to work together to build water resilient communities.

To find out more and get involved see www.soscpt.org and contact jpark@progreen.co.za

Pollution clouds

Failing future – Are we out of time?

Retire Successfully Retirementor, Jeunesse Park, writes to us from Los Angeles, having spent a week in Mexico City. There, she says, the pollution is so extreme, that her eyes burned unrelentingly, and she felt like she had been a long-term smoker.  Jeunesse expresses her frustration at the seeming inaction of the powerful and influential to promote climate change, but she is heartened by the growing exposure given by such mainstream media as The New York Times, The Guardian, The Post and others. They are finally sounding climate alarms loudly and continuously.

It is 2018 and we are living in a new climate reality.

Extreme heat, drought, fires and floods ravage the planet. Access to drinking water shrinks and agricultural production falls. Hundreds die, thousands are displaced and Pollution in Mexico Citymillions of lives are shattered.

The physical effects are disastrous. The economic impacts are still to be calculated, comprehended and will play out over decades. One thing we do know … anthropogenic climate disruption is here to stay.

We have warmed the earth by only one degree centigrade since the Industrial Revolution and the results are already catastrophic. Scientists are pretty sure that if we stay on this current fossil fuel trajectory we are on a path to a two to five degree warming.  Permanent drought in parts of the world, fires, more intense weather, hurricanes, floods, heatstroke, starvation and associated disease and suffering will soon become the norm. At four to five degrees our species will falter, fall, and fail.

How have we let it come to this?

Warnings have been sounded since the 1950s (some even earlier at the turn of the century) that our rampant fossil fuel consumption and concomitant emissions were a dangerous experiment with earth’s atmosphere. Most scientific debate – on how our spewing out of excessive carbon was altering life on this planet – was settled by 1980. Further conclusive research papers have since been published, and hot air has been blown out at many global conferences.

Those of us who have realised the danger of inaction have exhorted world leaders, big business and citizens to rally. We have had every opportunity to act, but we have not. Instead, we now disgorge more noxious greenhouse gases daily than ever before.

We are a shortsighted species, unable to grapple with the consequences of our actions and their threat to our future. We are obsessed with gratification in the present and seemingly have no ability to learn from our mistakes and change direction. So, business continues as usual whilst millions suffer and our very survival is threatened.

Explaining our inaction to our children and grandchildren is more than challenging. Trying to instil hope that we can defy an inevitable dystopian future is overwhelming. Yet, hope we must. I am not giving up. I will continue to communicate what I witness and understand, to draw on my knowledge and experience to facilitate change and action where I can.

This year of climate disasters has hit mainstream media worldwide and awareness is growing. Young people are collaborating and challenging the justice, or rather injustice, system. The surge of technological solutions is encouraging.

My hope is in our essential human resilience and innovation.

Roy Irvine spening time at the children at the Link Literacy project

Never too late to learn … and teach!

Chartered Wealth Solutions client, Roy Irvine, volunteers for the Link Literacy programmeImagine finding a whole new area of learning when you decide to help others learn?  This is what Chartered Wealth Solutions client, Roy Irvine, discovered when he volunteered for the Link Literacy programme.

“Two hours once a week is nothing in a retiree’s life (or semi-retiree’s, in my case). The other tutors have, like me, had an excellent education and satisfying careers, and now see this as a way to encourage learning as a way for the children to have a great future,” says Roy.

How did you get involved?

After returning from some expat work (as a geologist) in West Africa, there were few opportunities for my skill set in the local mining industry, so I decided to look at what else I enjoyed, which was teaching.

I enrolled in and completed a TEFL (Teaching English, Foreign Language course). I started looking for opportunities and came across the Link Literacy program, and instead of teaching English, I ended up being part of, and now managing, one of the Numeracy classes, at the Melville branch.

Why did you get involved?

I believe that every child has the potential to be the best that they can be, and often don’t reach their true potential because of lack of adult support.

The 45 minutes twice a week that the volunteers spend with each of the children has been shown to enable them to grasp the basics of Numeracy, as well as to show them that numbers are not only important in life but can be fun.

We work with Grade 2 and Grade 3 children, and the feedback from their regular teachers has been very encouraging.

Why should others get involved?

Donate or volunteer at the Link Literacy and numourcy projectCurrently, we have 3-4 children to work with, and would love to see more volunteers to come on board, so that we could get to the one-on-one that the Literacy classes are achieving.  South Africa can have many more successful numerate people and we all believe that this is really a worthwhile cause to give back to, and an opportunity to themselves learn.

There are various centers around Johannesburg, all following the same programme. If you would like to see us in action, please feel free to pop into a session – watching a bunch of non-teachers (mostly) and a class of 8 and 9 year olds is something to see! The Link Literacy programme currently operates at 15 schools across Johannesburg, including in Midrand, Parktown, Norwood, Orange Grove, Fairland, Bedfordview, Edenvale, Melville.

Why not embark on your own journey of learning … to help others learn?

For more information contact megan Maynard via email at – megan.maynard31@gmail.com