Sustainable tourism: Painting a classroom at Dingani Primary School

Elephant’s Eye strives to be an eco-lodge in every aspect. As part of our efforts, the lodge sources fresh vegetables from community gardens, has an ozone pool (safe for animals to drink from) and runs the lodge off the grid as much as possible without losing out on its luxury feel.

But we also pride ourselves in supporting and uplifting the communities in the surrounding area. And so, our newest initiative was to replace the windows at Dingani Primary School, a school that we have supported since 2013, to breathe some colour and life into the classrooms.

We replaced 76 cracked or broken windows that the school has been waiting for years to do. Travel agents who went on our familiarisation trip in May were given the opportunity to join us in painting the classrooms with brightly coloured murals. Mariska Yntema, Product Developer, shared her experience of visiting Dingani Primary School:

“First of all we made quite an entrance at the school arriving in our safari truck. There was no way we could just sneak in unannounced! After the headmistress welcomed us, we were keen to get down to the job but you could sense the excitement in the air and that we had been eagerly expected. Not wanting to disrupt the lessons, we were taken around to every class to meet the children at the headmistress’ insistence. In every room we were greeted by a myriad of faces with inquisitive eyes on a few sparse benches and chairs.”

“We were quite taken aback by how well behaved the kids were who were quietly awaiting their turn to greet us with a choir-like, “Good morning vi-si-tors!” And then after a slight pause, they continued with a melodious “We are well, and how are you?”

“After doing this in 6 or 7 classrooms, we headed to the ECD class that would be spruced up by our group with the help of some of the staff from Elephant’s Eye. We did not know what to expect and how it all would pan out – a blank wall awaited us, albeit with a few holes. After travelling together for a few days, it was amazing to see how well we worked together and who emerged with some expert painting advice and techniques! All I can say it just flowed and soon our stencils were up on the wall, with yellow and red animals frolicking about in patterns.”

“Not having a specific plan and allowing the team to put their creative juices to full use worked best. The agents thoroughly enjoyed themselves and time flew by. It was a great opportunity to bring some colour and inspiration to an empty canvas. During break time, the kids popped their heads through the windows to take a sneak peek.

Regrettably the little ones left for the day before they could see the finished product. The headmistress seemed very pleased however and promptly posed in front of the wall for her picture to be taken!”

“All in all it was a very fulfilling day that made us grateful that we could do something small to improve the childrens’ learning experience. This is surely an ongoing project and hopefully soon the other classrooms will reap the same benefit.”

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