Balule Nature Reserve, part of South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park, is home to all of the so-called Big Five: rhinos, elephants, buffalo, leopards, and lions. A fair share of venomous snakes and hyenas roam its 150 square miles, too. But the most dangerous creatures in this hot, unforgiving landscape are the human predators: poachers, often armed, looking to leave with bushmeat or valuable rhino horn. Protecting this sanctuary is surely a task best left to men – big ones with guns, right? Wrong. (Obviously). For the past five years, a group of a few dozen women, all of them young and from communities immediately surrounding Balule, have been changing minds about what it takes to save wildlife. Now well known as the Black Mambas, their anti-poaching unit patrols unarmed, relying on keen observation, a visible presence and relationships with their neighbours over force. They’re doing what they’re doing so well that in 2015, their success earned them the prestigious United Nations’ Champions of the Earth award. Keep being amazing Mambas!
Let me take you back to April. Remember the National School Walkout Day? It was a nationwide protest against the horrific school shootings happening in America. Students across the States left the classrooms and took to the streets. One particular student really shone above the rest in her school. 7-year-old Havana Chapman-Edwards was devastated that she was the only student in her class to walk out. "It really sank my heart to pieces," Havana said. Her mother, who signed her out of school to ensure Havana could stand up for what she belies in was, and rightly so, incredibly inspired by her daughter’s ability to stand up and leave the crowd for justice. For 13 seconds, Havana and her mom sat in silence to honour the 13 people who lost their lives at Columbine, which happened 19 years ago. Havana says that she wore her orange astronaut suit because she wants to show the world black girls are strong leaders. Have you ever heard of sucha woke kid? Definitely a leader of the future.
Johanne Astrid is your usual 10-year-old girl. Except she’s a star. Earlier this year she and herband mates won Denmark’s Got Talent, a TV show showcasing the good, the bad, and the just plain unbelievable. Johanne is a drummer and a brilliant one at that. She started out on a kid’s drum set at the tender age of six but was promoted to a real set at just seven (you can imagine how brave her parents must be). She was the orchestrator of the band, The Mofos, too, pulling in talent four times her own age. “The bassist Christian (Stenrøjl) was the person I ever tried to jam with when I was eight, and when I wanted to get a band for the TV thing we called him, and brought Rasmus (Pedersen) and Kristian (Sloth) on board. After the TV show we all agreed that it had been so much fun and we wanted to continue together. We want to play real, no-nonsense rock music and show that rock has no age or expiry-date. We have a mission to get more kids to playing an instrument instead of just playing on an iPad.” We’re calling it now; we’ve got a future rock legend in the making here!
Have a positive week,
Love Neon Moon x
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