The Art of Giving. And Giving Well.

It’s time. Time for compassion. Simple, beautiful, life-affirming, life-changing and life-saving compassion. There is always space for more empathy, more tenderness, more kindness, but sometimes you feel the need for it a little more intensely. As I do now. As perhaps you do too.

In The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams, Archbishop Tutu explains compassion, the idea of giving to, or giving of yourself to, others:

Ubuntu says when I have a small piece of bread, it is for my benefit that I share it with you. Because after all, none of us came into the world on our own. We needed two people to bring us into the world. And you realise that in a very real sense we’re meant for a very profound complementarity. It is the nature of things.

“I mean I could not speak as I am speaking without having learned it from other human beings. I could not walk as a human being. I could not think as a human being, except through learning it from other human beings. I learned to be a human being from other human beings. We belong in this delicate network. It is actually quite profound.”

The book is filled with moments that speak to the heart, whether it’s the Archbishop or Dalai Lama talking. It is itself a tool of compassion, reaching out to all the earthlings in our delicate network. It is a tool just like, as we call it, the Art of Giving at Relais & Châteaux.

Our hotels and lodges in Africa and the Indian Ocean practice the art of giving, the art of compassion, daily. Hearing of their efforts to make the world a better place you quickly forget yourself, your own ups and downs, and fill only with gratitude, a desire to reach out. And like that, compassion has done its job.

Such is the effect, the butterfly effect, of the Art of Giving – one that we hope will reach you, and inspire you. Below is a look at the heart of Africa… The Art of Giving.

At the Heart of Africa

Anjajavy

Conservation and community work at Anjajavy le Lodge comes from the heart; you could even say it is the heart, of the lodge, of the reserve and the people living and working in this corner of Madagascar. New species of plants and animals are frequently discovered here, in this real and wild paradise.

Pioneers in protecting this unique environment and setting, the lodge runs several community upliftment projects and has built a secondary school, clinic, patrols. They are busy with a rewilding project, focusing on the aye-aye and fosa, while continuing to conserve the animal and plant life that thrive in this protected area of the island.


AtholPlace Hotel & Villa / Morukuru Family

Morukuru Family’s Goodwill Foundation supports nature, conservation and community. Guests want to be actively involved more and more in matters of conservation in the field and it is them who fund the whole operation of rhino notching, which forms part of the foundation’s anti-poaching initiative. The foundation also supports the local Molatedi School. 


Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof supports a range of initiatives that greatly impact the unique region of South Africa they find themselves in. For instance, the traditional Riel Dancers, the local Elizabethfontein School – many of the students being children of the staff at Bushmans Kloof, Pack for a Purpose, Rock art preservation and education, conservation education – taking students on visits to the lodge and reserve, and the Treadright Foundation – which works towards a healthier and more harmonious world, with Celine Cousteau.

Their conservation projects include a cedar tree planting event with the Cape Leopard Trust; while on a day to day basis the reserve provides a place for the Cape Mountain Zebra to roam freely – an animal which the lodge and reserve has managed to bring back from the brink of extinction


Camp Jabulani

Camp Jabulani has been a 20 year journey of conservation at work, an African wildlife sanctuary founded on the protection of orphaned elephants.  Guests become part of the herd, part of the journey, and the elephants dictate the experience. Discover more about the evolution of the elephant experience at Camp Jabulani in our blog.

Founded by the owners of Camp Jabulani, the nearby Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre is a unique African wildlife facility focusing on conservation and the sustainability of rare, vulnerable and threatened species.



Delaire Graff Estate

Delaire Graff supports FACET, For Africa’s Children Every Time – which runs programmes designed to improve the standards of health, education and well-being in areas in South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana. Read more.

Ellerman House

Ellerman House is closely connected with the Click Foundation, which uses technology in education to pursue outcomes based interventions that can meaningfully impact learners, as well as projects called Reading Eggs and Art Angels. Discover more in the video below. Read more.


 

And this is why we do it…

1610 Grade 4 Learner at Sunnyside Primary School from The Click Foundation on Vimeo.


Great Plains Conservation

The Great Plains Conservation’s Great Plains Foundation is responsible for the incredible Rhinos without Borders project which aims to relocate no less than 100 rhino from South Africa to safe havens in Botswana.

Since the project began, they have moved 26 rhino and the dedicated rhino monitoring team has reported the birth of five calves in their new home. Due to the generosity of individuals, the tourism industry, and partners, they are over half-way to their goal of raising enough funds to move 100 rhino.

The Great Plains Foundation is also involved in community upliftment around its lodges in Botswana and Kenya, and lion and elephant conservation. Read more here and get a better look with these videos below.


Londolozi Private Game Reserve

Londolozi’s Good Work Foundation (GWF), a registered NGO that has been working with grassroots education in Africa since 2003, works to lead a focused, achievable and digitally-[em]powered education model for rural Africa. It has done so through Digital Learning Centres – originally set-up in 2007 to provide Londolozi staff with sustainable learning and accredited training in English, tourism and digital literacy.

Today, along with the Londolozi Digital Learning Centre they have established a Philippolis Digital Learning Campus, Hazyview Digital Learning Campus and Justicia Digital Learning Campus.

Students have to pay nominal fee to join – to show their dedication – and there has been a 30% improvement in results year on year. The goal is a community outward approach rather than a Eurocentric or Eurodriven one.

Absa Bank, as part of its Prosper campaign, which shows its impact on the lives of people across Africa, has released its new short film featuring the story of Deliwe Tibane and how she helped to build the award-winning Hazyview Digital Learning Campus (HDLC). Take a look below at how one life that has been touched by the Foundation. Read more here.


Royal Chundu

Royal Chundu on the banks of the Zambezi in Zambia is “100% Zambian, indigenously run and run like a family; it’s all about feeding back into the community, everything we do is done to benefit the people in the area.”

This includes employing local staff, supporting local fishermen, craftsmen and spa therapists, and a seed exchange with the local community – the lodge donates seeds to the community and buys back the vegetables once grown.

They have also setup a Royal Chundu Foundation School as an early childhood education centre for the children in the community, where students get to learn the Zambian cirriculumn on tablets. Read more.



 

More info:

The Importance of Being Educated

A Wilderness Experience With Heart

At least once in life we find ourselves faced with the question, Am I brave enough? Do I have what it takes? And sometimes, most times, the only way to find out is to take the leap…

One such time now faces the team of 27 who are about to embark across one of the most inimitable and isolated wilderness areas in the world, for six days, covering 360 kilometres – on mountain bikes.

My wimpy muscles twitch fearfully at the thought, but these adventurers are ready to trade safari vehicles and airplanes, their usual mode of travel, for dusty mountain bikes to complete the 10 year anniversary Challenge4ACause expedition through the rugged landscape of Namibia’s Damaraland Desert, from 15 – 22 July 2017.

Representing Relais & Châteaux in the challenge are Shan Varty and Anthea Boehmke (Londolozi), Paul Harris and Nicola Harris (Ellerman House), Julia Geffers (Relais & Châteaux Paris), and Hidehiro Kubo (Relais & Châteaux Japan). They will be joined by 21 other riders.

Those who have ridden before have called it one of the best wilderness experiences of their lives.

Cycling for as much as five to seven hours a day, they’ll pass through 2.5 million hectares of vast expanses, striking terrain and distinctive desert-adapted wildlife like zebra, springbok, oryx, giraffe, rhino, hyena and elephant. Along the way, they’ll arrive to a fully-equipped camp of tents set up by the support team, with meals and drinks awaiting and the odd lion’s call in the distance.

Beyond the natural beauty and sense of accomplishment (and panicky pulmonary palpitations… can lungs palpitate? This is definitely a good way to find out) of such an expedition, what is driving them is something more philanthropic, something tugging at the heart.

With the cyclists, suppliers and partners helping to raise funds through the event, proceeds from C4AC 2017 will go toward uplifting local communities, enriching lives, funding conservation projects in Africa, and making a tangible difference in Africa’s wildlife, landscapes, and people.

The projects supported by this year’s C4AC include many of those funded daily by our African and Indian Ocean Island Relais & Châteaux hotels and lodges, as well as the:

  • Save the Rhino Trust:  protects the highly endangered desert-adapted black rhino population in the Damaraland. This region is home to the largest free-ranging black rhino population in the wild. SRT has provided consistent patrolling and monitoring of black rhino over the last 25 years. Our contributions help fund their anti-poaching units.
  • The Wildlife ACT: The Wildlife ACT is a non-profit organisation whose main objective is to bring our endangered and threatened wildlife back from the brink of extinction. Their conservation efforts largely focus on the endangered black rhino, African wild dog, cheetah, and vulture populations; as well as threatened elephant, lion, leopard, and white rhino species.
  • Good Work Foundation: a South African NGO on a mission to unleash the untapped potential of millions of people living in rural areas. GWF aims to provide a world-class education and to lead a focused, achievable and digitally-[em]powered education model for rural Africa.

We will keep you up-to-date with the Challenge4ACause adventure as it unfolds.


Watch the Video…


 

 

The Importance Of Being Educated

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Above: Anjajavy l’Hôtel

A year or three ago, I found myself at my 10 year high school reunion. The school halls and teachers that had once, allegedly, been mine, seemed foreign, weird, like a limb that didn’t belong to me. I blamed my mind’s poor powers of retention. Freud might say I’m suppressing bad memories. He’d be right.

Some of us look back on the school years fondly. Others prefer not to look at all… As important as “The School of Life” may be, the actual years spent in school do, however, create one of the greatest foundations for our still-forming selves.

They are the beginning of the rest of our lives… In disadvantaged or more rural communities throughout Africa, this couldn’t be truer, more essential. A good schooling can mean all the difference – not only in the students’ own lives and the futures of their families, but for society as a whole.


Londolozi

Above: Londolozi Private Game Reserve

When I force myself to think about those twelve years more closely, I catch a few more glimpses. I realise just how ingrained those moments actually are in the person I am today; how they taught me much more than the subjects I took. I realise that many of those lessons were because of the teachers  who showed me what awaited on the other side of hard work and an open mind. Or “a good head and good heart” as Nelson Mandela called the “formidable combination”.

Many of the lodges across Africa are cognisant of the importance of a good schooling, of good teachers, and have dedicated their time to supporting local schools in need or starting their own education centres, to share the benefits afforded the lodges and the revenue they create through tourism.

Here are a few examples of this from the Relais & Châteaux properties in South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and Kenya.


Royal Chundu 3


 1. Royal Chundu, Zambia

“We are committed to uplifting the community we work with at Royal Chundu and a significant part of that community are the children. We are on a mission to empower this future generation, the children of our staff members and our neighbouring villages. Our tool? Education. And its ability to shape lives and transform the future for the better. Our Foundation School is exactly that – a framework, a foundation for these brighter futures.

“At our community school, we currently educate up to three grades of children, from four to six years and do so using the educational benefits of modern technology. Here our students learn the entire Zambian curriculum on tablets, giving them access to the digital universe otherwise unknown to them. During your stay with us we welcome you to meet with our pupils and teachers on a visit to the school to see the powerful work being done for yourself.” – Read more


Royal Chundu Kids 8

Royal Chundu Kids 4


2. Anjajavy l’Hôtel, Madagascar

Anjajavy l’Hôtel has many ongoing community projects on the peninsula. The hotel works to promote sustainable development in three remote villages in the vicinity of the hotel. Schools, clinics, water wells, sanitation facilities and solar stations are constructed, maintained and operated by the local NGO, Ecoles du Monde, which is funded from guest’s donations directly to the hotel, as well as dynamic international campaigns. The hotel also dedicates time to educating local children about the protection of the environment and health. Guests are invited to visit the primary school started by Ecole du Monde. – Read more.


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3. Londolozi Private Game Reserve, South Africa

The Londolozi Digital Learning Centre in Mpumalanga was set up in 2007 to provide staff at Londolozi in the Sabi Sand with sustainable learning instruction and accredited training in English, tourism and digital literacy – something that would enrich not only the lodge and reserve but also the individual.

In 2007 Dave Varty – owner of Londolozi Private Game Reserve and Chairman of Goodwork Foundation – said to his team of Londolozi staff that he would bring them access to world class education.

Together with the Good Work Foundation (GWF) and course facilitator, Mo Groch, the Londolozi Digital Learning Centre was set up, with several internationally accredited courses and modules made available to the greater Londolozi community. This was followed by the establishing of the Madlala Digital Learning Centre and Hazyview Digital Learning Centre.

“This is ‘digital-era’ literacy education and career training that is delivered through a series of high definition multimedia programmes. It is structured, curriculum-based, and allows students to progress through the content systematically, with the majority of assessments being written and marked online” said Kate Groch, CEO of Good Work Foundation.

Read more: How the Londolozi Community is Disrupting Education and Empowering a New Learning Imagination


GWF

Above: Hazyview Open Learning Academy Facilitator, Mary-Jane, demonstrates “touch screen” and one student just can’t wait to try.

4. The Great Plains Conservation, Botswana & Kenya

The Great Plains Conservation and Great Plains Foundation are invested in community education at all of their lodges – including Zarafa Camp in Botswana and Mara Plains and ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya.

“The focus of our education program has been on the villages of Seronga and Gudigwa that neighbour the reserves we operate in Botswana. These remote communities live alongside the wildlife that our guests come to experience so it seemed fitting that they too benefit from wildlife through a relationship with us.

“In Gudigwa we work with the local primary school and its wildlife club, running a conservation education programme, as well as with a craft group we established named ‘ZaraZara’. In Seronga, the craft group is named Tipatizane and this large group of over 60 members has also participated in HIV and life skills training.


GPC


“During the first week of December school holidays, we take 20 children at a time into the bush for a minimum of four days where they experience game drives, walks, conservation lessons, cultural activities, craft sessions, conservation focused activities and of course the annual soccer match against the facilitators. The facilitators include our community liaisons, guides and camp managers.” – Read more.


The Click Foundation


5. Ellerman House, Cape Town

“For 4 years, The Click Foundation has been implementing an online self-paced literacy programme to primary school learners across South Africa. They have 13,000 learners, across 4 provinces, in 42 underprivileged schools gaining access to reading and computer skills from as early as 5 years old. Ellerman House has also created ArtAngels, an annual fundraising art auction, hosted on site. All proceeds are channelled through the Click Foundation, our family foundation established in 2010. The partners of the Click Foundation use the money raised each year fund more community pilot programmes.” – Read more


Click Foundation


6. Morukuru Family, South Africa

As part of its Goodwill Foundation, Morukuru Family in the Madikwe Game Reserve supports the local Molatedi School. Guests are invited to donate supplies to the school during their visit to the lodge and to go on a tour of the classrooms and property. Through guests’ generosity, the lodge has managed to provide the school children with school books, computers and other donations. – Read more

“The Morukuru Family believes in giving back to Africa, and to her local communities through education, empowerment and encouragement. We are involved in various community projects, including assisting the Molatedi school library with book donations as well as soccer kits for the up and coming soccer stars. The Molatedi Primary School is very close to our hearts here at Morukuru, and we encourage our guests to take a tour of the school during their stay with us.”


June-2015


7. The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, South Africa

Education is central to the existence of the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC), Camp Jabulani’s sister organisation. They work daily to create awareness – particularly with younger people – about the importance of wildlife, and the need to conserve it. The centre runs a number of educational activities and has partnered with like-minded organisations and campaigns.

HESC actively supports underprivileged schools in the area, through donations – including vehicles, computers, furniture, stationery and other needed items – and inviting schools – such as the local Paulos Ngobeni Primary School and Lumukisa Primary School – to visit for a day. – Read more.


HESC


8. Delaire Graff Estate, Cape Winelands

Laurence Graff, owner of Delaire Graff Estate, started a charitable initiative known as, For Africa’s Children Every Time (FACET). One of the initiative’s projects are the Graff Mobile Learning Centres – custom-designed vehicles that bring hope and opportunity to youngsters who live in and around South Africa’s winelands. The vans are packed with educational resources, computers, books, games and DVDs, which give the children much-needed access to, and assistance with, education.

One van has been transformed into a mobile computer lab, housing 10 laptops, a modem and a printer. The second van has become a mobile library, with literature in both Afrikaans – the language that most of the children of the winelands speak – and English, plus toys and games for those who manage to read a series of books and complete a review of them, to mark their literacy progress. – Read more.


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9. The Cellars-Hohenort, Cape Town

Educating children in disadvantaged communities is about much more than the curriculum and discipline. Very often, it means, as a teacher, offering support, safety and sustenance… “Recent research shows that many children who do not have enough to eat wind up with diminished capacity to understand and learn,” Carl Sagan has been quoted as saying. “Children don’t have to be starving for this to happen. Even mild undernutrition – the kind most common among poor people in America – can do it.”

To counteract this, The Cellars-Hohenort got involved with Feedie -the international foodie philanthropy app that transforms digital food photos into actual meals for impoverished school children in South Africa, served by The Lunchbox Fund. The hotel’s Executive Chef, Peter Tempelhoff is a Global Feedie Ambassador. – Read more.


Royal Chundu Kids 6


10. Bushmans Kloof, Cederberg

“The lodge has been actively involved in the pilot project to include local farming communities in creating the Cederberg Biosphere Reserve and super-reserve, consisting of the Biedouw River Conservancy, the Wupperthal Conservancy and the Cederberg Wilderness Area. Bushmans Kloof is proud to support and contribute towards Elizabethfontein Primary School, in a bid to uplift and emphasise environmental education for local schoolchildren. We donate stationary to Elizabethfontein primary school every year and sponsor their youth camp every year. Every year we host the 13 year olds from Elizabethfontein School to an open day to experience the hospitality industry, and to learn about the importance of conservation.” – Read more.


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Several of our hotels and lodges are members of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travellers to make a lasting impact in the community at your travel destination, by taking along certain supplies for schools or medical clinics in need. These include Zarafa Camp, ol Donyo Lodge, Mara PlainsBushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness, and Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre – which is connected with Camp Jabulani.

Read more about our Pack for a Purpose experience at Bushmans Kloof in, “What You Should Really Pack For Your Safari.”


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