Anika le Roux of Paarl, has made it to the top 10 of the Matrics in Antarctica initiative.
The only other Western Cape pupil in the top 10 Emily Dalley of Herschel Girls’ High School.
The project was founded by South African adventurer Riaan Manser, to teach South African pupils about the impact global warming is having on the planet.
Antarctica is one of the most important ecosystems in the world and is directly affected by global warming which is why it was chosen as the destination for this environmental initiative.
The names of the top 10 matriculants were announced on Friday December 10, chosen from an initial shortlist of 50 pupils. These, in turn, had been whittled down from thousands of entries which had been received.
The top 10 were chosen based on a campaign proposal they submitted, explaining how they could get their communities to start using more sustainable packaging, such as glass.
The pupils had to take note of what they saw in their everyday lives, including in their communities, such as watching what people buy and how they throw these items away.
In her proposal, Paarl Girls’ High Grade 12 pupil Anika concentrated on how sustainable packaging could be reused for good, and her campaign focused on encouraging the collection of glass holders such as jars, from the community, and then using these in their local soup kitchen, known as Magda’s Soup Kitchen.
“The jars would be used to repackage food and household products being distributed to people in need in my community. The community must then return the jars to be washed and reused again,” she explained.
“I was very shocked hearing my name being called during the announcement. Making it into the top 10 has already been a big blessing that I am extremely grateful for. I don’t know who is more excited, myself or my family,” she said.
Anika said she was interested in visiting Antarctica so she could see the effects of her own consumption choices.
“From previous experiences, I have realised that seeing consequences and gradual effects in real life, has a lasting-effect on me as a person and fuels me to change my lifestyle completely.
“This will then motivate me further to encourage my community and everyone around me to change their way of living for the better,” she said.
Emily, who lives in Hout Bay, said she had focused her campaign proposal on encouraging mainstream retailers to follow a more sustainable approach to food packaging.
This included the use of reusable glass containers instead of single-use plastic.
“I always had a passion to make a difference in people’s lives, and to protect our environment,” said Emily.
“The competition is offering a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel somewhere extraordinary and to see first-hand the effects of climate change on our planet. The trip will also give me the knowledge to find ways on how to combat climate change in our everyday lives.”
She said she still could not believe that she was in the top 10 and one step closer to going to Antarctica.
“I’ve already started my mission to create awareness about climate change and environmental issues with my school and my community,” she said.
“I was part of the Earth Matters club for five years at my high school and headed it up for my last two years at school. I also initiated a campaign against disposable plastic masks whereby I researched the negative effects that these masks are having on the environment and presented this research to my school and community.”
The top 10 will be going to the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve in January, when the final selection process will take place.
They will be spending a few days with the selection panel and teachers, as they participate in activities, lectures, excursions and a camera training day at the reserve.
At the end of that week, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga will announce the top five who will be going to Antarctica.
“The Grootvadersbosch Nature reserve has a magical, fairytale quality, which will leave the top 10 with a lasting impression that they have stepped into another world,” said Mr Manser. “It is a huge privilege to experience and best of all, it is right on our South African doorstep.”
In February, the five winners will be flown by Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI) in an Allusion cargo plane to the Antarctic runway which is essentially a block of ice.
The pupils will stay at the Russian scientific base for six days and during their time in Antarctica, they will learn about the Antarctic, hike, explore, take part in science experiments and participate in litter cleaning initiatives.
To find out more, visit https://www.matricsinantarctica.co.za/