White Shark Projects, founded in 1989, is renowned for its dedication to the conservation of our oceans. White Shark Projects as a company also feel that it is important to support our local communities. So 10 years ago we come up with a community based project that supports the community whilst helping the environment.

In 2008, White Shark Projects Swop Shop was set up in Masakhane, Gansbaai. The Swop Shop trades every Tuesday afternoon and caters for the children in the surrounding Masakhane community. The children collect recyclable litter from the streets of their neighbourhood and bring it to the Swop Shop where they can trade it for points. They can then “spend” the points they have earned on goodies such as clothes, stationary, toys and even hair accessories. After the children have chosen their goodies they are then given a tasty mug of hot soup to enjoy which is made by the wonderful ladies in our kitchen.

For the past 10 years the Swop Shop has been organised by an inspirational lady we fondly know as Tannie Nellie (‘Tannie’ being an affectionate title of respect in Afrikaans). Nellie is there every Tuesday to greet the children, swop their recyclable litter for points and help them choose their goodies.

Nellie has also kept a log of the numbers of children that have visited and astonishingly 46,007 children have exchanged their recyclable litter for goodies in the past 10 years. Incredibly, in both 2011 and 2014 over 6000 children visited Swop Shop. Even today Swop Shop is still a success as just last week alone, 160 children visited the shop. It is truly a wonderful way of giving children in the community a sense of pride for their neighbourhood whilst also caring for the environment.

White Shark Projects volunteers also get involved with Swop Shop and help the children pick out goodies to spend their points on. We always ask our volunteers to leave a comment on their experience of Swop Shop. One of our most recent volunteers, Anthony Beresford from Ashbourne, UK, left us the most wonderful comment:

“First time visit to Swop Shop, it was very humbling, very worthwhile project, well run and the children were lovely. I enjoyed helping but wish I could have done more and stayed longer. I took a few photos of the project and will thread the good work when back. Keep up this excellent project!”

The items in the White Shark Projects Swop Shop have been generously donated to us. If you would like to kindly donate any goodies for the children to “spend” their points on, please contact bookings@whitesharkprojects.co.za.

Written by Georgie Pendell,

Marine Biologist at White Shark Projects