At Africa Travel we strongly believe in ensuring that those who live in destinations visited by tourists benefit from such visits - whether it be directly through employment in the travel industry, or indirectly via community programmes, outreach projects or educational schemes. Whenever possible we try to feature and recommend properties and suppliers 'who give something back' and who have policies of employing staff and utilising resources from the local community.
Chipembere Rhino Foundation
One of the most threatened of all species is the rhino - almost driven to the point of extinction 50 years ago, a huge conservation programme swung into action and the species was preserved. However, it is once again under threat with only 20,000 white rhino left in the world and an average of one rhino per day currently being poached.
Meaning rhinoceros in the local Shona language, the non-profit Chipembere Rhino Foundation is committed to the protection and conservation of one of Africa's most beloved creatures, and was set up when the Amakhala Private Game Reserve lost two rhinos in a single night. The long-term vision of the Foundation is to provide on-the ground equipment support for anti-poaching teams, to supply monitoring assistance in the form of tracking devices, veterinary procedures & ear-notching kits, and to create a media awareness campaign though youth education.
Grootbos Nature Reserve
Grootbos has always shown a serious commitment to conservation. However, a major threat to this is high local unemployment and a lack of access for local communities to natural resources, which the Reserve has set out to redress and has resulted in many accolades. The Grootbos Foundation works tirelessly in the conservation of the biodiversity of Grootbos and its surrounds and also with the development of sustainable nature-based livelihoods through eco tourism, research, management and education projects.
One such project is the Green Futures Horticultural and Life Skills College which provides training programmes for local unemployed people as well as transport, meals, uniform, equipment and a basic wage. Linked to the college is a plant nursery and landscaping business which generates income, and Grootbosâ€™ guests are always encouraged to visit the school, and of course to contribute.
Another project is the Spaces for Sport Project where, with the encouragement and passion of Grootbos, the Gansbaai Communal Sport Centre was opened for the use of the local community and townships. Add to this a Future Trees Project and a number of greening initiatives within local communities and guests can easily see and understand Grootbosâ€™ commitment to its locality, to conservation and to eco-tourism.
Uthando South Africa is a non-profit organization and a truly unique responsible tourism initiative based in Cape Town. Its mission is to provide a platform and infrastructure to raise funds from individuals, groups and organizations who have an interest in the region. Money generated from organizations such as Africa Travel supports a broad range of local community based, innovative empowerment projects with substantial and enduring value to the beneficiaries.
In addition, Uthando aims to provide tourists with an authentic introduction to the social problems confronting so many South Africans, and the innovative and inspirational ways in which these problems are being handled. The exposure of this programme to overseas visitors facilitates a vital role of ongoing awareness, creation and education, which in turn helps to make a significant difference to the lives of the most destitute and marginalized communities.
One of the many projects supported is Nazareth House, an orphanage for children living with HIV/AIDS, with visitors to Cape Town able to share in a truly moving and uplifting experience. Other supported projects include drug rehabilitation, housing and shelter support, human rights development and sustainable economic development.
Sapinda Rainbow is a youth organisation in South Africa which is about to embark on their biggest journey yet. They are the first sole-group from Africa to take part in the World Clipper Race - the biggest ocean sailing race in the world. Eight individuals have been selected and will work as a 'tag team' as they each complete one of the eight legs of the race.
Alongside this they will be promoting the last legacy of Mandela â€“ The Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital Trust. Crossing 40,000 miles of rough open waters and stopping at 15 ports, not only will they be learning from their challenging experience each wave at a time, but will be busy trying to raise their mammoth target of £20 Million over the 11 months the race takes place in.
Which is why we were honoured when asked to sponsor. The jackets that'll keep them warm on top deck or shielded from the ocean spray were donated by Africa Travel, and we couldn't be more privileged to be asked. We've had the chance to meet the young ambassadors and we have every faith through their infectious smiles and warm personas that they'll do South Africa proud.