Over the years we have striven to support, and engage the local community in business. This has been a slow process with improvement in recent years as we have developed a better understanding of the environment through communication and experience. It has taken some failures and some successes to realise that that there is much more needed than handouts or brief training and that it takes time to develop relationships and trust, as well as to understand the needs and motivation of the communities. It is for this reason that our more recent projects have proved more successful.
Thatching jobs, supply of gravel, and canvas stitching are all sourced from the local community.
Due to the presence of baboons and monkeys in the area, thatching is an ongoing requirement for Rhino Post Safari Lodge. RWS purchases the materials and then looks for thatchers in the local community to quote on each job. RWS provides materials and transport.
In 2005 we started purchasing firewood from Masizah & Mjikiza. Prices were very high, quality inconsistent and delivery unreliable.
In 2013 we changed suppliers to Raymond Ndlovu, but pricing remained an issue.
In 2014 we once again changed suppliers and are currently getting our firewood from Nkateko Mkhabela (trading as Dennis’ Firewood).
Expenditure in winter is approximately R9000 per month.
K3, a division of eMasoyi Community Development Foundation (previously Masoyi Home Based Care Project) is run by the incredibly enthusiastic and hard-working Florence Mbokazi. Based in the area outside Numbi Gate, this project was started in response to the AIDS pandemic. Initially, the project provided home care, and later after-school care to victims of HIV/Aids and the numerous children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable because of HIV/Aids within their families.
Two ladies from the SK3 project in the local community were identified in 2012 with the assistance of Portia Mnisi from SANParks to make uniforms for RWS. The samples were not up to standard. RWS paid for their sewing machines to be repaired and serviced, purchased them proper dressmaking equipment e.g. scissors, measuring tapes, quick unpicks etc. and paid for them to each attend a full sewing course over a period of 8 weeks in Nelspruit. New and much improved samples were provided, but not yet at an acceptable standard.
Rhino Post Safari Lodge subsequently paid for a second sewing course using the specific pattern used for our ladies uniform shirts.
RWS purchased an overlocker for the ladies and paid for overlocker lessons.
The quality of their sewing is now of an acceptable standard, and we have purchased material, cotton, buttons, patterns etc. for them to sew our ladies’ uniform shirts for the next financial year.
RWS arranged for Jonathan Khoza from Thulamahashe to provide assistance with adjusting patterns, and additional training for another 4 ladies. Once they have successfully completed this task, we intend to provide them with further training expanding their skills to include skirt making by next year. It is our intention to eventually have them sewing all of our uniforms, and to assist them in passing these skills on to other members of the community, and in marketing to other lodges and businesses so that they can develop a profitable business.
At the time of meeting with Elizabeth Andlane, who had started a small community project, Andlane Beauty World, they were producing floor polish and cleaning materials and their recorded monthly income was R65; they were running at a major loss.
Rhino Post Safari Lodge was not able to purchase the cleaning materials as we use strictly environmentally friendly products but suggested that they add environmentally friendly guest soaps to their range of products and together with the management of Jock Safari Lodge taught them to make soaps, with Rhino Walking Safaris providing equipment, ingredients and basic bookkeeping training. This quickly increased their turnover and put them in a position to service their bank loans and provide Rhino Post Safari Lodge and other lodges with their lovely handmade Rooibos Tea and Honey glycerine soaps.
At a concessionaires meeting RWS suggested to SANParks, when discussing a SANParks/Concession project, that the focus be moved from supplying curios to supplying consumables in order to ensure regular purchases. It was agreed that soap would be the ideal product.
RWS bought moulds, glycerine bars for Andlane Beauty World in KaMahlushwa facilitate soap production.
RWS provided basic bookkeeping instruction as well as stationery, and arranged with Mr Piet van Wyk of SANParks for the soaps to be collected and stored by the transport department. RWS placed and received their first order of 200 soaps in May 2014.
We have since been purchasing all of our glycerine soaps from them and joined forces with Resources Africa to send one of the ladies, Ms. Bongani Windvoel on a basic business training course.
We assisted Resource Africa in applying for a grant from SAB Miller on behalf of Andlane. This grant, of R210 000, was approved at the beginning of 2015, and orders for equipment placed.
There has since been no further contact from the equipment supplier, who after taking a down payment of R150 000 appears to have absconded. We have advised SAB Miller to take legal action.
Travellers sometimes worry about making sure their donations reach the right place or worry that their contribution will be ‘too small’. Needs change from time to time, and no donation is too small. A toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, soap, deodorant, pencil, crayons or books as well as second-hand clothing that is in good condition are always welcome. It doesn’t take a fortune to make a difference in the lives of those who have nothing.
We do not accept cash donations on behalf of any of our projects, but in the case of anyone wishing to make such a donation, will put them directly in touch with the community members responsible for heading up these projects.