As part of our Meaningful Travel ethos we have pledged to support a local project in each of the destinations that we offer. These range from a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica to an anti-trafficking organisation in Vietnam. Many of our projects allow visitors to get involved with the good work they do and during her recent trip to South Africa our Product Specialist, Sophia visited our local project, Emzini Tours, an organisation which offers responsible township tours in Knysna and donates money raised towards various community projects.
How it began…
Emzini tours were set up in Knysna by a woman called Ella who grew up in a local township with alcoholic parents. Having had a difficult upbringing, Ella began working on a farm at the age of nine to support her parents and secure the roof over their heads. With first-hand experience of some of the issues facing young people in the township today, Ella invested her time and energy in a number of projects.
From soup to safehouses
The projects included a Soup Kitchen which originally operated from a container bought by two English clients, it was then upgraded (through much-needed funding) to a bigger and better kitchen which feeds 30-50 children a day. A safe house was also set up for abused women and children and is currently home to 13 children full time, and one adult – all who suffer from HIV. They’re provided with food, electricity, clothing, education and transport.
Helping out hairdressers
During our time in the township we visited the local hairdresser which is also run out of a container. Lots of businesses use these containers which can either be rented or bought outright in the township. Here they had weaves for sale, and a selection of haircuts to choose from on a picture display on the wall.
Lending a hand to the locals
The next stop was the local library which offers free internet to the community and help with writing CVs. There was also a selection of books for young children who use the library as a safe sanctuary; a place to enjoy the books and hang out. If you visit the township I’d recommend bringing some books to donate as in hindsight I wish I had done.
Happy faces at the nursery
The project also helps to fund the local nursery, where the children can go when their parents are working. If the parents can’t afford to pay for the nursery, they can apply for funding. It seemed like a very happy place where the children learnt different subjects (in 3 languages – Xhosa, English and Zulu) and were provided with lunch and breakfast.
The final stop was Ella’s house. This was a real highlight for us as it’s a great insight into life in the township and meeting Ella was very inspirational. Whilst we chatted to the family we were taught to play the drums and speak a few words in the local Xhosa language – tricky but we got our tongues around the clicking pronunciation in the end!