Tag Archives: Local Community Upliftment

Singita opens new School of Cooking in the Serengeti

October 01, 2015 - Community Development,Cuisine,Singita Grumeti


After the success of its cooking school in the Kruger National Park, Singita has announced that it has opened a second school in the Serengeti, Tanzania. The Serengeti School of Cooking, which opened in July, promises to give students the best education in the art of food (and wine).

As the hospitality and tourism industries in Tanzania continue to grow, so too does the demand for qualified chefs. The aim of the cooking school is not only to bridge this widening gap, but also to promote cheffing as a highly skilled occupation that offers great prospects for employment.

Sabora Day 2

The course load will cover topics such as professional cookery, food production, catering, as well as communication skills, customer care and computer literacy. It will also offer practical training, with students getting the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test as members of the staff canteen and lodge kitchen teams.


Pioneering this exciting project is Singita Serengeti Executive Chef, Frank Louw, who has been with the company for nearly 10 years. “I’m eager to not only share my passion for food with the students, but do my bit to positively impact the lives of the communities within the Serengeti and surrounding Bunda districts”, Louw says. “I hope that what we’ve started here will make a real difference in the lives of the students and their families”.

Graduates from the Serengeti School of Cooking will gain a nationally recognised Professional Cookery qualification, after which they can commence work at a Commis Chef level within a Singita lodge kitchen, or any other lodge or hotel within Tanzania.

Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania

Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania

Along with environmental sustainability, the support and upliftment of local communities is a key part of Singita’s role in preserving the wilderness areas of which it is a guardian. Other projects at Singita Grumeti in Tanzania include an Environmental Education Centre, a scholarship fund for local students and small business development programmes that teach agricultural skills.

Read More

Mandela Day at Singita Sabi Sand

July 21, 2015 - Community Development,Events,Sabi Sand

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead” – Nelson Mandela

Mandela Day 2015 at Singita Sabi Sand

Supporting the people who live in and around Singita’s reserves is an important part of maintaining the balance between sustainable tourism, community upliftment and environmental conservation. As part of this hands-on approach to community development, the staff at Singita Sabi Sand in South Africa celebrated Mandela Day this past Saturday with a feeding initiative for the children at two local care centres. Guests were invited to join in the making of sandwiches which were then packaged and delivered to the care centres in the neighbouring village of Justicia.

The voluntary involvement of the guests was especially touching, as was the visit by some of them to assist with the distribution of the sandwiches to 350 hungry children. It was a joyful and heart-rending tribute to Mr Mandela’s legacy and especially his commitment to stopping child hunger. It is a desire that Singita shares as part of its community development objectives; a dedication to saving the world, one sandwich at a time.

Mandela Day is held on 18 July every year to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday and in recognition of the life’s work of this great man. Please visit mandeladay.com to find out how you can become a Madiba changemaker and make every day Mandela Day.

You can find out more about Singita’s community projects here.

Read More

Cooking Up a Storm at Singita Kruger National Park

May 14, 2015 - Community Development,Cuisine,Did You Know?,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge

From the outside, it’s not much to look at: a nondescript building in the heart of the Singita Kruger National Park staff village. Take a step closer and the sound of pots clattering on iron stovetops breaks the bushveld silence. A babble of chatter and laughter wafts out across the dusty courtyard, as a flash of chef’s whites whips past the screen door. Welcome, to the Singita School of Cooking (SSC).

Singita School of Cooking

Students at the SSC with Chef Skills Developer, Louis Vandewalle

A cooking school in the wilderness may seem something of an anomaly, but there’s a good reason the stockpots are boiling furiously out here in the Kruger bushveld. “Communities and conservation can’t function independently, they have to co-exist,” explains Louis Vandewalle, Chef Skills Developer at SSC. “The idea behind the Singita School of Cooking was two-fold: to increase the skill level in our lodge kitchens, but also to provide opportunities for the surrounding communities.”

Singita Lebombo Lodge Dining Area

The dining area at Singita Lebombo Lodge

The SSC opened its doors in 2007, and today offers an intensive 12-month curriculum that sees nine students drawn from local communities untying their brand-new knife-rolls in March each year. A multi-faceted training program combines theory components completed in the classroom and online, alongside intensive practical training in the dedicated SSC kitchens.

Singita School of Cooking

If the course is testing, making it through the selection process is even tougher. In 2014 the School had 85 applicants for just nine places. After interviews by Singita lodge staff and chefs, 30 hopefuls were shortlisted and put through their paces in a series of theory and practical tests. “It’s not about their skills in the kitchen,” says Vandewalle. “We focus on character and attitude. We want to make sure that they have the right foundation for us to build their kitchen skills on. And, most importantly, we want to ensure that those who join the programme will stay the course.”

Singita School of Cooking

Aside from occasional government grants the School is funded entirely by Singita: an investment of $7500-$8000 per student that covers uniforms, equipment, ingredients and a monthly stipend. After months of training, real-world experience is gained in the kitchens of Singita Lebombo Lodge with students rotating through pastry, cold section and hot kitchen. At the end of the 12-month course, students emerge as competent commis chefs.

Singita School of Cooking

Singita School of Cooking

“Unlike many chef schools with longer programs, we focus on the fundamentals,” says Vandewalle, as a stockpot bubbles on the central range. “By the time they leave this kitchen our students have a limited set of skills, but they are extremely proficient at what they do. We’re trying to develop work skills and work ethics too.” He goes on to explain how time-management and forward planning are vital skills for the young chefs to learn. “Each day one chef is appointed to be in charge of the kitchen. The responsibility then rests on them to allocate tasks to each of the student chefs, work out portions and run the kitchen.”

Singita School of Cooking

“We have a very high success rate with students finding employment, either with Singita lodges or further afield,” adds Vandewalle. “Because of Singita’s extremely high standards, we find that’s more than sufficient for what other lodges and guesthouses are expecting.” For most students though, a position in one of the Singita kitchens is first prize.

Singita School of Cooking

“I’ve always wanted to be in the kitchen, but just never had the opportunity,” bubbles Unity Mokhomolo (25) from the village of Welverdiend, who says she’s happiest in the pastry section. “After the course I am hoping to be one of the students that Singita takes to work at the lodges. Singita started my career in the kitchen, so I want to work for them. If that happens, I will grab that opportunity with both hands.”


The Singita School of Cooking was established to encourage the development of culinary skills and employment opportunities among local youth as part of Singita’s broader objective to assist communities to thrive, both economically and socially. Visit our website to find out how you can help to make a difference in the lives of our students at SSC, or read about some of our star pupils on the blog.

Read More

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

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

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


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

Graduation Day at Singita School of Cooking

April 18, 2012 - Community Development,Events

It was a proud day last week when students graduated from the Singita School of Cooking 18 month training programme in the Kruger National Park.  Well qualified to apply for a Commis Chef position in a professional kitchen at a Singita lodge, or any other safari lodge or hotel, six enthusiastic students now head out to take kitchens in the area by storm.

Chef Skills Developer at the Singita School of Cooking, Oriel Mbowane, himself previously a Sous Chef at Singita Sweni, was actively involved in the Graduation activities and is pleased with the student successes achieved at the school.

What distinguishes this school from similar training institutions, is the opportunity it offers for trainee chefs to practise their craft in the kitchens of Singita’s award-winning lodges. Students during the programme were supported by professional chefs employed at Singita who voluntarily shared their culinary and service expertise with the young talent.

Caroline Burke, General Manager Singita Kruger National Park says: ‘In remote, rural areas equipping even one person with a good job and sound prospects, has a burgeoning effect on members of their immediate family, as well as the broader community. Besides providing a much-needed income, these young people also provide inspiration, energy and leadership to their peers in under-developed areas’.

The school is a living example of Singita’s inspiring approach to ‘giving back’ at each of its 10 different lodges in four destinations in Africa, and of its modern conservation model that recognizes the need for a finely tuned relationship between wildlife, tourism and local communities.

We’re looking forward to the next intake of students – the fifth intake at the school – to commence their training as budding chefs this month.  Follow this space.

Further information on how you can become involved in this exciting community development programme can also be obtained from Pam Richardson, the Singita’s Group HR and Community Development Manager:  Pam.r@singita.com.

Read More

Kicking off 2012

January 09, 2012 - Community Development

All the effort made by the team at Singita Kruger National Park on Mandela Day last year to raise funds to purchase soccer balls for schools in our local community, was made worthwhile at the end of 2011 when a group of 11 Singita staff went into Hluvukani, one of the local communities situated just outside the Kruger National Park’s Orpen Gate, to deliver the balls to the schools.

The soccer balls were handed out at 7 different schools.  At each school a soccer game took place between the staff and the school pupils.  The games and the new balls caused much excitement for both players and spectators.

A great day was had by all and the Singita Kruger National Park staff are looking forward to when we will be taking a similar trip to Welverdiend, another one of the local communities, to complete the delivery of the remainder of the balls.

Singita Kruger National Park would like to thank Adidas SA for assisting us in achieving this special relationship with the community schools, by providing the balls at a specially discounted rate.

(Article contribution by Christen Bennett – Singita Kruger National Park.)

If you missed the story last year about celebrating Mandela Day at Singita Kruger National Park, enjoy the blog post here.

Read More

The three key ingredients of the Singita Approach

March 29, 2010 - Singita

The sustainable Singita approach consists of three key ingredients:

Firstly we pride ourselves on continually creating opportunities where guests are able to interact with their natural surroundings in a way that does not adversely affect the surrounding wilderness. Our philosophy of touching the earth lightly is threaded through every part of our offering and every aspect of a Singita guest’s experience.

Singita Sweni Lodge

Secondly we’ve implemented a fewer beds in larger areas programme. This has significantly reduced the impact guests have on the surrounding environment. It has also created an incredibly intimate experience for these guests.

Singita Sasakwa Lodge - Singita Grumeti Reserve Tanzania

Lastly we are actively involved in local communities. Through our initiatives, and the support of generous guests, we assist these communities by developing and introducing forms of sustainable prosperity. This sustainable prosperity results in the best type of social upliftment – the kind that allows communities to maintain and celebrate their dignity, culture and heritage.

Singita Sustainable Development Initiatives

Read More

Sign up to receive the Singita newsletter