Not far from the world-famous Kruger National Park, the 4-star graded Blyde River Canyon Lodge is situated in the province of Mpumalanga (Zulu name for “the place where the sun rises”). Set alongside the sparkling waters of the Blyde River and sheltered by the majestic Drakensberg Mountains, the lodge offers local and international travellers a unique African bush experience.
As the owner of Blyde River Canyon Lodge, this is why I decided to get involved with the Pack for a Purpose initiative:
Being part of the tourism industry carries an inherent responsibility to care for and uplift the community in which we live. In South Africa we have an expression called Ubuntu, a Zulu word which – literally translated – means ‘humanity’. This is often translated as ‘I am because we are’ or ‘humanity towards others’.
Partnering with Pack for a Purpose has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to make a meaningful difference to those who need it most in our community. We are grateful for this initiative and overwhelmed by the amazing support we have received from our guests in terms of donations.
With every booking received, the lodge encourages guests to keep space in their luggage to “pack for a purpose” and include stationery, books, games, clothing and toiletries that can be donated to underprivileged school children.
Many of these children live in households where their parents or guardians can barely provide enough food for the table, so the donated items – even if simply a new toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste – are received with real appreciation and joy.
The project Blyde River Canyon lodge has chosen to support is Sibonile Day Care, a struggling pre-primary school in Acornhoek. The school has approximately 500 children, ranging in age from babies to Grade 2 learners. Classroom supplies are practically non-existent, with teachers often having to employ inventive tactics when it comes to teaching, such as using old soda bottle caps as counting aids. There aren’t desks in many of the classrooms … the children simply sit huddled together on the floor. Despite all this, their faces light up when their teachers speak and they are eager to learn and create a bright future for themselves.
From 1 January to 30 April 2019, the lodge received a whopping 150kgs (330 lbs) of donated goods from its guests. On occasion, guests may visit the school and be there in person for the drop-off of donations. This is a very special experience for both the benefactor and the children who receive the donations.