The Cavern is a family run resort in the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa and has always been committed to helping the broader amaZizi community. In the 1980s, it was all about helping put a roof on a church. In the 90s, we were very involved in building one of the first Early Childhood Development centres in the area. And, in 2006, we combined all our efforts to make greater strides in helping uplift the children in the area.
We have received donations and support for our projects, Royal Drakensberg Primary and the Khanyisela Drakensberg Projects for more than 15 years. Our work through the Khanyisela Project helps support 17 ECD centres with approximately 650 children through a fortified porridge drive, teacher training, maintenance and building operations, and acquiring and distributing educational supplies and resources.
The Royal Drakensberg Primary school is an independent foundation phase school for almost 90 children and we are determined to ensure that children learn to read so that they can read to learn. It’s all about uplifting the children, stimulating them from a young age, so that they can become contributing members of the community.
Most recently, we introduced a new project called BabyBoost which focuses on the first 1000 days and works with the vital stage of development when the child’s neurological pathways are forming. The programme extends mothers’ and caregivers’ understanding of rearing infants and toddlers through a series of workshops and home visits. The early stimulation, advanced by having toy and book libraries, helps children to develop successfully. Playgroup sessions follow the workshops and we have seen wonderful progress following further implementation in our communities. Feedback from mothers has been truly inspiring.
Pack for a Purpose was introduced to us by a UK Tour Company that has been visiting The Cavern for several years. What a wonderful initiative which gives travellers the means of helping communities where they are visiting. It’s a real win because the travellers choose something that is close to their heart – that might be a book or otherwise a box of plasters or wonderfully bright colouring pens – and they then pass the needed goods onto the schools in the community. This connection and buy-in contributes to real upliftment.
It is never easy trying to build a project from scratch and it is never simple keeping the work going. It takes an enormous amount of commitment. Travellers have assisted with many kilograms of donations which helps free up other resources and so the great wheel of change continues to turn making an imprint in this Drakensberg community. Imagine the sheer joy of a new story or the excitement of drawing with bright coloured pencils. These small donations are huge gifts in the lives of the little people.
It’s all about helping the children. It’s about building a community. It’s about making connections from afar and harnessing support in raising others up for brighter tomorrows. It’s an opportunity to help and an opportunity to create bright shining joy.