Tag Archives: community development

Community Projects: Early Childhood Development

November 20, 2014 - Community Development,Did You Know?,People of Singita,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Modern conservation requires a keen focus on keeping tourism, the community and conservation in a constructive and positively enhancing balance. The health and survival of each of these aspects is crucial to the survival of the whole. This complementary approach is central to Singita’s driving philosophy, in which it is imperative that we assist communities to thrive, both economically and socially.

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

One such example of this commitment to the empowerment of local communities can be seen in action at Singita Sabi Sand, where an early childhood development programme is in place. Growing to Read ensures that 10 pre-schools in local villages are provided with professional training and guidance by a dedicated trainer from The READ Educational Trust, a long-standing, non-profit organisation and recognised child development leader.

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

The teachers from these pre-schools learn the most efficient and effective ways of developing the cognitive, physical and social skills of the young children in their care. Carefully chosen educational toys and books are also supplied to the pre-schools, along with stationary “tool-kits”. Teachers are thereby further enabled to implement the modern and effective methodologies that are shared with them.

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Children who develop in structured and stimulating environments such as these are better able to form the foundation they need to succeed in their later schooling, and in life. Central to the programme is the importance of literacy, and the need for teachers to nurture and develop these skills in their young charges. In addition, Teach with Africa, a USA-based organisation, sends a team of experienced lecturers to work closely with these schools on an annual basis, in support of the overall Growing to Read programme.

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

The success of this project prompted the Community Development team to partner with Singita Kruger National Park, where the children of the Welverdiend and Hluvukani staff villages are now also involved.  This means that 1700 young learners are now benefitting from the programme and Singita’s commitment to providing continuing support to these pre-schools.

Mandla Mathonsi, Community Development Officer

Mandla Mathonsi, Community Development Officer

WANT TO HELP?
The teaching and facilities in the local pre-primary and primary schools benefit greatly from support and enhancement, and any contributions will be put to sound use. For more information about becoming a funding partner to the Singita Community Development Trust, please contact HR and Community Development Manager, Pam Richardson, at +27 21 683 3424 or pam.r@singita.com.

You can find out more about Singita’s community development projects on our website.

Read More


People of Singita: Irene Makhabane

October 21, 2013 - Community Development,Experience,Kruger National Park,Singita Sweni Lodge

The People of Singita: Irene Makhabane

The people who work at Singita have always been a point of pride for us; we are extremely blessed to have a dedicated and hard-working team that works together to create unforgettable experiences for our guests. Singita is the trusted guardian of over half a million acres of pristine land in Africa and employs a large number of people from nearby communities, helping to support the local economy. One such person is Irene Makhabane, the Lodge Manager at Singita Sweni Lodge in the Kruger National Park:

Singita Sweni Lodge

How did you get started at Singita and what inspired you to become a lodge manager?
I was appointed through a recruitment agency and chose hospitality because I love meeting people from all over the world. As a woman who grew up in Africa, it is interesting for me to run the lodge while learning about other people’s homes and cultures.

What would be the highlight of your career so far?
My appointment as lodge manager has definitely been a highlight, as well as the support of my colleagues at Singita who give me so many opportunities to grow.

Singita Sweni Lodge

What do you love about Singita?
Singita is a great company to work for and what I love the most is how the staff are constantly given the opportunity to improve and learn the business. I also love how Singita supports the local community with projects like the Singita School of Cooking which provides training and job opportunities for young people from the neighbouring villages.

What is a memorable guest experience?
One of my favourite experiences occurred while one particular family was staying at the lodge for a few nights. We got on extremely well and on the second night of their stay, they invited me for dinner. They insisted on serving me drinks, fetching food from the kitchen and clearing the plates. They were so kind and made me feel like a special guest at Singita.

Singita Sweni Lodge

What is the greatest challenge you have overcome?
One evening while our guests were in the middle of dinner, a transformer blew, leaving us with no electricity. I had to quickly assess the situation, explain the problem to the guests and tell them how it would be resolved. It was the middle of summer and guests had to go to sleep without any fans or air conditioning so it was quite a challenge but I managed to keep them happy and comfortable despite this setback.

Who is your favourite person and inspiration in the world?
Nelson Mandela. He is truly a great man, filled with grace and humility.

Singita Sweni Lodge

You can read the previous articles in this series; an interview with chef Michael Matera from Singita Grumeti and the story of tracker at Singita Sabi Sand, George Nkuna. Visit the website to learn more about working at Singita.

Read More


Environmental Education at Singita Grumeti

June 19, 2013 - Community Development,Experience,Singita Grumeti

There is an all too familiar story in Africa. It is one of poverty, exacerbated by a lack of education and subsequent unemployment, often fuelled by a voracious foreign market eager to exploit these circumstances. The net result is a culture of poaching – the illegal “harvesting” of natural resources, either for direct subsistence or further sale, all in an effort to feed and educate a poacher’s family. The rewards are scant for those locals who risk life and limb and the cycle is a tremendously difficult one to break.

Singita Faru Faru Lodge

Students at the Singita Grumeti Environmental Education Centre (EEC) were recently given a very stark glimpse into that world by a most unlikely champion of the anti-poaching fraternity – a hardened and once-feared poacher named Shaban Andrea.

A skilled hunter of much repute in the local communities, Mr Andrea’s grade 7 level of education precluded him finding gainful employment in the formal economy of Tanzania, so he exploited his primary skill to tremendous effect. His poaching exploits crossed international borders and his “hit list” included elephant and rhino, amongst other vulnerable and protected species. Despite his efficacy as a poacher and his position as a leader of one of East Africa’s best-known poaching gangs, he still struggled to feed, let alone educate, his growing family. Most of the money he earned was used to bail him out of jail following two separate arrests by Singita Grumeti Fund scouts who patrol the 350,000-acre conservation area adjacent to the Serengeti National Park.

Shaban Andrea, reformed poacher

After being arrested a third time, he was inspired to hang up his rifle and look for work outside of the world of poaching. The Fund saw his potential and offered him an opportunity to work with the Anti-Poaching Unit. After negotiating a reduced sentence and serving his time, Mr Andrea was released and appointed to the Wildlife Monitoring and Research team where he has worked ever since. For the first time in his life, he earned an honest wage and with hard work has been able to build a home for his family and is very proud to have two sons currently at university.

Beyond the personal success of this story, the opportunity that Shaban Andrea was given by Singita has had a far-reaching effect on the young minds that listen to him recount his experiences whilst at the EEC. He leaves the learners with a short and simple message: that there is simply no benefit to the killing of Africa’s wildlife and that the future lies in their protection.

Environmental Education at Singita Grumeti

The problem of poaching in Africa remains a complex one, one that requires a multi-faceted and often unconventional approach in the search for solutions. Through a very human act of giving a man a second chance, Singita has exposed an invaluable resource in the fight against poaching – a man with a story.

You can find out more about the EEC on our website, as well as our other community development and conservation efforts. You might also like to know about Singita’s recent involvement in the rollout of the Rhino Horn Treatment Programme to help combat poaching in the Sabi Sand. 

Read More


The Malilangwe Child Supplementary Feeding Scheme

April 04, 2013 - Africa,Community Development,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge

Zimbabwe, like many African countries, has its fair share of challenges, not least of which is the effect of unpredictable rainfall patterns and successive droughts on agricultural production and subsistence farming. The consequent food scarcity causes malnutrition in local children and is linked to the disturbingly high infant mortality rate.

The Malilangwe Child Supplementary Feeding Scheme

The Malilangwe Child Supplementary Feeding Scheme was set up in response to the dire need to provide these children with a proper meal each day. In association with the national government of Zimbabwe and, following guidelines put in place by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Singita set about establishing a feeding programme on the outskirts of the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, where Singita Pamushana Lodge is situated. As with many such initiatives, its success is to a large extent dependant on the involvement and support of local community members.

The Malilangwe Child Supplementary Feeding Scheme - Ettah Mhango

One such community member is Mrs Ettah Mhango. Not only does she raise her own two children, she also takes care of six of her nephews and nieces. On top of this, she is a key member of the Supplementary Feeding Scheme team, and has been since its inception in 2003. As the manager and storekeeper of one of the scheme’s 436 feeding points, it is her responsibility to ensure that regular deliveries of the blend are received and securely stored, that there is enough porridge to feed the 34 small children in her care, that the food is well prepared and the correct portions are adhered to each day.

Children are fed a nutrient-rich meal consisting of a WFP-approved Corn and Soya blend

When asked about the value of the programme she was heartfelt in her reply: “The Malilangwe Child Supplementary Feeding Programme is the backbone of the community and, if it stops functioning, our children will die”. She also provided the insight that, as the programme also operated at the local primary school, good school attendance was being encouraged.

Ettah Mhango

In total, 19 000 children on the outskirts of the reserve receive such a meal each school day. This would not be possible without the committed involvement of local people, largely women, who volunteer their time and effort to partner with this programme. These amazing people ensure that the children of the village begin each day on a sound and healthy note.

Singita Pamushana Lodge

You can read more about how Singita gives back on our website or browse our previous Community Development posts on the blog.

Read More


Victor’s Vegetable Garden

March 05, 2013 - Africa,Community Development,Sabi Sand

kruger-school-of-cooking-classportrait

One of the most heart-warming ways that Singita contributes to the upliftment of our local communities is by improving the lives of the children who live in them. One such example is the story of Victor Ubisi who, in his own time and with the tremendous generosity of Singita guests, has created a communal vegetable garden that helps to feed the little learners and benefits the families living in Justicia village neighbouring Singita Sabi Sand. He is an inspiration to Singita’s team at Ebony and Boulders Lodges and a symbol of the value of hard work to the smiling faces at the school.

Happy Homes Pre-School at Singita Sabi Sand

The Happy Homes Pre-School in the village community of Justicia on the outskirts of the Singita Sabi Sand is now even more of a happy home for the children who visit it every day. And it is all thanks to the generous and selfless act of a wonderful man.

The school fills a desperate need to provide essential early childhood education to many of the village’s youngsters. While filling young minds with information was a challenge readily met, ensuring that the children received a decent meal every day was another challenge all together. Despite the best efforts of the teaching staff, the children were often hungry and easily distracted, which made learning very difficult and it was clear that something had to be done.

Victor's Vegetable Garden at Singita Sabi Sand

The decision was made to start a feeding programme and was generously supported by Deborah Terhune, a former guest and foundation director for Growing Up Africa, which is a charitable organisation that focuses on enriching the early education of children across the continent. Mr Victor Ubisi, a night porter at Singita Sabi Sand, was tasked with the job and worked tirelessly in his own time to create an edible garden that provides food for the school. In addition, any surplus crops are sold to the village community or to the Singita lodges for use in the kitchen. This revenue is further used to fund various school projects and has also allowed Victor to establish a small business of his own. He passes on his skills as a gardener to the children who are now actively involved in the planting, maintenance and harvesting of the vegetables.

Victor showing the latest produce to one of our chefs

Harvesting spring onions

Victor is so passionate about being a positive and constructive influence in his community that he recently joined forces with Deborah’s team and a group of Cornell University graduates to assist in the building of a school in Johannesburg. He took three weeks unpaid leave to achieve this goal and has brought many a learning back to his village of Justicia.

The smiling faces at Happy Homes Pre-School

The challenges faced by the Happy Homes Pre-School are representative of those in rural communities throughout Africa, as is the success of implementing such a simple yet practical solution. What began as a heart-breaking problem has become a shining example of what hard work and compassion can achieve, while enriching Victor’s life and those of the children that he helps to feed.

Find out more about Singita’s community projects here or learn about Joyful Nghala, a young woman who is building the foundation of her own bright future as one of the star pupils at the Singita School of Cooking.

Read More


The Singita School of Cooking

February 20, 2013 - Community Development,Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps

Joyful and her classmates at the Singita School of Cooking Joyful and her classmates at the Singita School of Cooking

Life at Singita is a constant exercise in gratitude for the environment and the people that make the lodges so incredibly unique. Singita is the custodian of over half a million acres of natural bush in Africa and works actively to protect and maintain this land and its wildlife in their original state.  We partner with the people who live on the outskirts of the reserves to understand the intrinsic value of these pristine areas and experience the benefit of preserving the land for future generations.  Singita and the people from local communities are working symbiotically to provide a better experience for the eco-traveler, whilst ensuring a better future for the land, the wildlife and communities within each region.

 

This story is the first in a series which will offer some insight into the genuine upliftment, improvements, restoration, heart-warming successes and joy brought about by caring and the daily miracles that keep unfolding to transform lives, largely thanks to the people who visit our lodges and are committed to making a difference.

Joyful Nghala, like all intelligent and aspirant young girls, matriculated from high school with dreams of a golden future. The realities of living in a part of South Africa with rampant unemployment soon hit home however, and she was forced to find work that didn’t promise much prospect. Despite her having to work in less than inspiring jobs, Joyful never lost the wonderful spirit for which she is so appropriately named.

A chance stroll to the local post office gave Joyful the lucky break she had been longing for. It was there that she spotted the advertisement encouraging interested parties to apply for places at the Singita School of Cooking (SSC). Joyful duly applied and successfully navigated two tough interviews and a cook-off to receive an invitation to attend the school, where she began classes in May last year.

Joyful at work in the SSC kitchen

There has been no looking back for Joyful since she was given the opportunity to learn all the relevant cooking skills under the expert tutelage of the Singita School of Cooking staff. All areas of professional cooking are explored in the school and students learn by doing. The aspirant chefs prepare food for the staff at Singita in a dedicated kitchen and are given opportunities to learn from the highly trained and skilled chefs who produce the Relais & Châteaux-standard food on a daily basis.

Joyful at work in the Singita kitchen

Joyful continues her education at the SSC where she receives many compliments both from her enthusiastic teachers and those with whom she works in the school kitchen. She is reported to have a healthy competitive attitude and a particular flair for culinary language, with her newly-acquired French vocabulary featuring regularly in her menus. She is already an asset to the Singita family and is on track to become a great chef, probably working in our very own kitchens one day. The Singita School of Cooking would not exist were it not for the generous support of our guests, some of whom have given abundantly to ensure that the futures of Joyful, and many others like her, are indeed golden.

Haute cuisine at Singita Kruger National Park

The Singita School of Cooking is located on site at the staff village that serves Singita Kruger National Park, the home of Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge.  It was established with the aim of encouraging the development of culinary skills amongst local youth from neighbouring communities.  Each year, 8 to 10 students are selected – based upon clear criteria including showing a real interest in cooking – to participate in an 18 month long training programme. You can also find out more about the Singita School of Cooking here.

Read More


The Last Day

July 04, 2012 - Community Development,Cuisine,Kruger National Park

Today was Lucien Green’s last day in the kitchen at the Singita School of Cooking.  He managed to squeeze in one more demo before he left:  confit duck gizzards, duck hearts, and orange segments all drizzled with a Dijon mustard dressing.  I was worried I might not sample the duck delicacy as there was a sea of students in front of me destroying the delicious salad by the fork-full.  As a thank-you to Lucien he was given a cooking school jacket with his name embroidered on it, a Singita book and an invitation for him and his wife to return to Singita Lebombo and Sweni Lodges.  His remark?  “I’ll certainly return but not in summer.  I hear there are a lot of snakes around at that time!”

This has been a remarkable week.  The students have gained mountains of knowledge and also a new friend.  Everyone is looking forward to the return of Lucien Green.

The End…for now.

Read More


Turning up the Heat

July 02, 2012 - Community Development,Cuisine,Events,Kruger National Park

The excitement at Singita Kruger National Park has been contagious this week.  What’s been causing the stir?  Lucien Green.

Visiting from Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen” Apprentice Programme in London, Lucien Green (Senior Training and Development Chef)  has hailed an energy at the Singita School of Cooking like never before.  Each day has been jam-packed with activities, revving up from one day to the next.

Day One – the Singita team whisked Lucien out into the bush to look for lions.

Day Two – stepping into the kitchen at the Singita School of Cooking for the first time, Lucien observed students elbow-deep in dough and perfecting their focaccia-making skills.

Day Three – Lucien took some time out to review curriculum.  He gave the cooking school a thumbs-up!

Day Four – this was a special day – it was marked as the official opening of the Singita School of Cooking.  Mark Witney, Singita’s Chief Operating Officer was also present for the honours.

Day Five – then it was back to the kitchen.  Lucien conducted a day of teaching, introduced the students to carpaccio for the first time, and iniated a competition to see who could produce some winning results. For the competition the students were split into teams and over two days they’ll compete for the top prize.  It is going to be a gruelling, fast-paced stretch.  Stay tuned!

Read More


Stuffing Focaccia

June 27, 2012 - Community Development,Cuisine,Kruger National Park

First day at Singita School of Cooking, Lucien Green, Senior Training and Development Chef at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Apprentice Programme in London arrived this morning to find the students all huddled around a bench paying attention to Amos, the chef in charge, giving instruction on stuffed focaccia.  Amos was enthusiastically demonstrating how to prepare the fillings, which looked world-class: tomato, caramelized onion, mushrooms, all roasted with rosemary and garlic.  He placed the filling in the middle of the bread then folded the bread around. Then the challenge was presented: Group A against Group B – whose baked delicacy will win?  While the bread baked it gave Chef Lucien time to talk to some of the students individually as they continued with their prep duties. Forty minutes later with the smell of freshly cooked bread, the focaccia was done.  In true chef style everyone approached, not giving time for the bread to cool and everyone waiting for a bite. Lucien was asked by Amos to do the honor of judging.  All of the breads were mouthwatering but there could only be one winner and group A took the prize. Group B was a close second and poor Amos came third. It takes a good teacher to lose to his students!

Read More


Watering Seeds of Success

June 13, 2012 - Community Development,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Sustainable Conservation

Sometimes people’s lives are being transformed and revived in a small corner of the globe and we don’t even know it is happening.  That is why we want to share some updates with you of what is taking place on the southern boundary of Malilangwe Reserve where Singita Pamushana Lodge is located (Zimbabwe).  Hluvuko and Chitengenyi are small scale irrigation schemes a few kilometres from Singita Pamushana.  Hluvuko was established in 2005 and Chitengenyi in 2008 and the schemes have been running successfully over the years, reflecting a story of benefits without boundaries.

Let’s take a few steps back in case you are reading this and don’t know about how these projects started.  Singita Pamushana Lodge was established for the sole purpose of generating income to assist in funding the conservation and community outreach programmes coordinated by the Malilangwe Trust.  The Trust’s Neighbour Outreach Programme (NOP) is the vehicle through which Singita Pamushana Lodge and The Trust achieve their community development purpose.  One of the Trust’s key focus areas is the Feeding Programme which helps ensure that local young children receive a nutritionally balanced meal each day, and so are able to maximise the benefits of their schooling.

The small scale irrigation schemes operate alongside this feeding programme, and aim to enhance food security within the wider community, in a sustainable manner. They were established to enable vulnerable communities to grow their own food, and also to supply drinking water for domestic and livestock consumption.  Hluvuko and Chitengenyi are two of the schemes. It is thrilling to be able to report that the objective of food security and an improvement in the nutrition of rural communities bordering the Malilangwe Reserve is now being achieved, for a large part of each year. Communities are now able to grow and access fresh vegetables from the communal gardens.

Hluvuko is 2.5 hectares and has 26 direct beneficiaries. This year they managed to grow tomatoes, onion, carrots, beetroot and rape, most of which will be ready for market in July.  This year is their first year of growing beetroot and the crop is doing very well and most likely will be purchased by the kitchens at Singita Pamushana Lodge.

Chitengenyi is also 2.5 hectares and has 62 direct beneficiaries.  Due to challenges with their borehole, this year they started planting late.  Thanks to the Malilangwe Trust the borehole was repaired last week and the scheme is back on track.

The success of these schemes is that they have gone beyond subsistence level and are now producing excess crops which community members are able to sell in order to supplement their income.  Now that’s a story we want to share far and wide.

Guests can be inspired by the knowledge that their stay is assisting to sustain the wilderness and to support the local communities in practical and effective ways.

(Update provided by Tendai Nhunzwi, Human Resources Manager, Malilangwe Reserve)

Read More


Sign up to receive the Singita newsletter

×