TutuDesk and School Shoe Drive

Giving Back | 18th November 2021

A genuine gift is like water when it flows out it can never return.
– African Proverb

At Shambala Private Game Reserve, we believe in committing our time to uplifting as many young people living in the local rural community around us as possible. In order to successfully do this we have partnered with the EMS foundation, who operate with the purpose of alleviating and ending suffering, raising public awareness and providing dignity while promoting the rights and interests of vulnerable groups, particularly children, the elderly and wild animals.

Much of our energy has been focused on educational and food security initiatives over the past years in order to bring about a positive and tangible change to the lives of the young people in our community, one such project is the Tutudesk campaign. The Tutudesk, named after the beloved Archbishop Desmond Tutu, provides a surface for the children to work on, and are made locally – so supporting development and employment. Each desk weighs less than 1kg and replaces the traditional school desk which is often not provided for in some rural school settings. We have partnered with the EMS foundation to donate thousands of these desks to underprivileged schools in the Limpopo Province to promote learning and to encourage learning in the community.

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. Education is the movement from darkness to light. The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.
– Desmond Tutu

We also recently donated six hundred pairs of school shoes to children residing in the Vaalwater area of the Limpopo Province where the reserve is located. Many children in rural South Africa do not have the luxury of shoes for the walk to school, often a long journey over rough terrain, through the rain and even cold wintery mornings. The importance of well-fitting shoes is often overlooked in these impoverished areas and providing comfort, protection and giving each of these children a sense of pride as they make their way to school to learn each day is something we endeavour to do with this outreach project.

Caring for our community goes hand in hand with the continuous conservation work that we do across the reserve. This is further aided by the various employment opportunities that are filled by members of the community as we work with them to upskill and professionally develop themselves to ensure long-term job security for them. During the course of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak in South Africa, we rolled out food packages to the local community as part of the ‘’Thuma Mina*’’ campaign to provide food security to them and their families during this tumultuous time.

*”Thuma mina” means “I am here, Send Me”,  a song by Hugh Masekela, the theme of which is self-sacrifice, individual responsibility and the importance of personal change in mindsets. President Cyril Ramaphosa quoted this in his inaugural State of the Nation address to South Africa.


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