Community Upliftment Experience

Tales from the Bush

At Elephant’s Eye, Hwange guests can engage with the local community on a Community Upliftment Experience. One of our recent guests was so moved by this activity that he felt compelled to share his experience. Read below what he had to say…

I had never had an excursion like this while on a safari holiday. Our guide took us to the local community, Dete, and showed us around the area. We had two stops on our itinerary. The so called sewing ladies and the beading ladies, or to be more accurate the Thandanani Sewing Project and the Vukani Bead Project. Usually we would have visited the school, Dingani Primary, as well but unfortunately it was closed due to school holidays. All of these projects are supported by the Grow Africa Foundation and Hideaways. Elephant’s Eye, Hwange has a shop with, amongst other things, the handcrafted goods of the sewing and the beading ladies, 100 % of the money from the sales goes back to them.

“…I found myself as more than just an observer of the community.”

First we went to see the sewing ladies – a group of local women who gather daily to create beautiful dresses, tablecloths, serviettes and other items out of African fabric that is donated to them. We parked right in front of their fence and walked onto their property while they came outside to welcome us in warmly. In the front garden there were three kids playing soccer while another small girl was running around. That was the moment when I found myself as more than just an observer of the community. I felt a feeling of serenity and light-hearted happiness which I found very moving. Probably because in my culture we often complain about the smallest most insignificant things, so to see these people living contentedly while having so little, was a wake-up call to appreciate the little things in life more. After being shown their product range and listening to the interesting story behind the Thandanani Project, we took a walk through the village.

This walk was full of interesting sights. We saw a few mud huts which some people call their home and lots of curious people who crossed our way, they were incredibly friendly to us and again I soaked up that positivity in the atmosphere as we made our way to the Vukani Beading Project or “the beading ladies”.

The beading ladies are making bracelets, earrings and necklaces out of beautiful beads made from old magazines which also are donated to them. They told us their story and let us attempt to make a bead ourselves. I liked one pair of earrings especially as a gift for my mother back home, so I bought it right there from them freshly made. Where else do you get to buy your presents directly from the craftspeople? I found that so cool! 

“…something I will never forget.”

After our visit at the Vukani project, we walked back to the car while many people on the way greeted us kindly and the kids were standing on the side of the road holding their hands out to receive a high-five from us. Heading back to our Elephant’s Eye, we left the village with a warm feeling of compassion and inspiration. It is definitely something that I will never forget and an experience that enriched my African holiday.” 

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