It is just past mid-summer and is a day with gentle rain, which is unusual in summer but most welcome.

My entertainment for many hours of late has been sitting on my veranda watching birds. There is a tree full of nesting black-headed weavers just beyond my pond. They have built 25 nests so far, the most recent one decorated with blossoming flowers. It’s a constant hive of activity as the males weave nests, females come to judge, demolitions if rejected by the females, and endless rebuilds by the males. From the sounds emanating from the tree, there are plenty of young birds in the nests. A black sunbird has also reared a young brood in a nest under the “stoep” ceiling.

The main event during the past few months was the one-month retreat with Dónal, which from the feedback received, was most beneficial to all who were fortunate enough to attend. Vera Hey and Ava from Botswana also facilitated weekend retreats which the participants thoroughly enjoyed.

One of our staff members, Mampope, sadly passed away in November after a relatively short illness. Her partner Adam died a few months before her. They leave behind a 9-year-old son who will be cared for by his grandmother who lives in Groot Marico. Trish Denya who has been our cook producing nutritious and tasty meals for 14 years will leave TRC at the end of December. She will be a great loss. She will hopefully return next year to help with the bigger retreats. We wish her well for her retirement back in Zimbabwe.

At our training centre, the permaculture project run by Sustainable Community Development (SCD) has run out of funding, so those activities have come to a standstill. There is an organisation that is interested in taking the project forward, but plans/funding are still sketchy at this stage. If anyone knows of someone, or an organisation that is interested in a permaculture/organic/sustainable way of life in the Bushveld please let us know.

Tirisano crèche in Rietvaly, funded by Rokpa International, is still functioning but is currently closed for the summer holiday. The annual end-of-year outing to Marico Dam had to be cancelled as crocodiles have recently moved into the dam making it unsafe for children to play in the water. At the last minute, it was decided to host the children at TRC where they had fun running around, climbing trees, swimming in the small pond alongside the Octagon and stuffing themselves with party food.

On the Groot Marico environment scene, Jeanne and Brian of Mmutlwa wa Noko, with little support, have worked tirelessly at opposing over 20 mining prospecting applications in this area. It is getting harder and harder to fight off mining which the government see as a way of increasing needed funds for the cash-strapped country. Sadly corruption is rife in this area.

We are planning a steady flow of retreats here at Tara Rokpa Centre in 2024 and hope to see our retreat friends back here for a relaxing break from the busy city life.

Pippa, Dec 2023