THE AMAKHALA FOUNDATION: EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES, CONSERVING OUR ENVIRONMENT
The Amakhala Foundation is home to the social projects of the Amakhala Game Reserve, as well as the educational projects of the Conservation Centre. It was established in 2009 to coincide with the Reserve’s 10th anniversary, and is overseen by a Trust with five members.
The Foundation is funded by outside donor bodies as well as through the payment of bed levies from Amakhala’s commercial lodges.
The Amakhala Foundation focuses on the following projects:
Education & Skills Development
Staff members have been put through various in-house training programmes on an ongoing basis, to enable them to take on new positions and responsibilities at the various lodges. Some of them have been involved in Hospitality Learnerships, some have participated in an International Labour Organisation course, and others have received Leadership training through Diana Hornby, Director of Community Engagement at Rhodes University. One staff member has been trained as a field guide through Ulovane Environmental Training.
As of April 2013, the Foundation has been the recipient of a grant by BUSH Resources to set up a gardening project that will allow for the development of skills involved in growing vegetables and running a garden. In time, the vegetables from this project and its satellite gardens will be sold to the Amakhala lodges, thereby providing for the long- term sustainability of the project.
Unemployed members of the local community are given an opportunity to generate income through our Craft Centre, where beaded articles, sewing items and printed items are sold. The beaded items are made by a group of local women working from their homes, while the sewing is done on site by a woman who operates her own small business within the Centre.
Beaded bracelets made by the teenagers of the Isipho Project in nearby Paterson are also sold here. One-quarter of the sale price of the bracelets goes to a bursary fund to assist one or more of these teenagers with some tertiary education after leaving school. Duduzile Dumana is the first recipient of this bursary and is currently enrolled for a 2-year diploma in Journalism at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.
Guests and members of the public may visit the Craft Centre during the week to purchase articles and meet Feziwe, the co-ordinator.
Isipho Charity Trust
The Isipho Charity Trust is an independent charity operating through a Centre in the nearby town of Paterson. It supports over 300 children through 2 preschool classes, an after-care programme, feeding scheme, materials support for schooling, and psycho-social support. It also provides much-needed HIV/AIDS education in the local community.
Amakhala has been part of Isipho’s development almost from the outset: assisting with food parcels, raising half the funding required for the Isipho Charity Trust to buy its own property, and giving time and expertise through the services of two Amakhala members that serve on the Isipho Board.
The Amakhala Volunteer programme also makes a valuable contribution to this organization by providing manpower to assist with general maintenance of the property, the after-care programme and the running of computer classes, and beading afternoons.
The Foundation’s Environmental Education programme aims to cultivate an understanding and love of nature in the children who visit the Amakhala Conservation Centre (ACC), thus increasing awareness and concern so that future generations can enjoy our natural habitats.
Local primary school children attend education days at the ACC, notably during National Water Week in March, on World Environment Day in June, and during Arbor Week in September. High school pupils are sponsored to enjoy a day of learning about habitats and ecosystems as well as experiencing the animals in their natural environment while on a game drive.
University students from Rhodes University and NMMU have the opportunity to run selected research projects on the Reserve.
2012: Amakhala Foundation listed as a finalist in the category of “Best Social Involvement” for an Umvelo Award and as a finalist for a Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award.
2011: The Conservation Centre nominated as a finalist for a Kudu Award, for the environmental education programme that it runs.
2008: At the Kudu Award Ceremony; an annual SANParks event in Pretoria, the ACC was presented with an Environmental Education/Capacity Building Merit Award for its commitment to conservation through educational programmes which are aimed at imparting knowledge and skills to enhance the understanding of the environment.