When you travel with Isibindi Africa Lodges you become part of the family that has as its purpose saving our planet for our children's children. This purpose drives us all...
COVID-19 Courage relief programme
In the middle of April 2020 The Isibindi Foundation launched a massive feeding programme in response to the devastating effect of the Covid-19 shutdown. Vulnerable homesteads in the rural communities surrounding our three KZN loges, namely Mpembeni, Hluhluwe, Shengeza, Manguzi, and Mabibi community (compromising mostly of elderly, young children and no or little income) were assisted ﬁrst.
Our lodge game viewers and team of volunteers from each community and the Isibindi Lodges travelled daily, trucks ﬁlled with food rations (potatoes, maize meal, beans, cooking oil etc) and travelled to every single homestead in the surrounding community. Thousands of people were fed. Masks and information sheets in Zulu were handed out and working in conjunction with the communities local clinic we screened every single homestead. We implemented a mask making project using lodge sheets. We also supplied fabric and elastic and ﬁve seamstresses were soon making hundreds of masks which were handed out free of charge in the community. Communities helping communities!
"Thousands of mouths want to say thank you Thonga Beach Lodge!" - Betty
Zikhali, schoolteacher and MADECO trustee.
"We are very grateful to the Isibindi Foundation. The mayor of the Big5 Hlabisa Municipality is forwarding his sincere thanks to The Isibindi Foundation and Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge board and management" - Wellman Khumalo, Mpemneni community
Reduction of single use plastics
We have put the following measures in place at our Lodges to reduce single use plastics:
- plastic straws replaced with paper ones
- plastic wrapped toothpicks replaced with paper wrapped ones
- packed lunches are no longer wrapped in plastic but reusable containers and greaseproof paper
- plastic bin liners replaced with brown paper ones
- rubbish bags replaced with recycled plastics
- replaced plastic sanitary disposal bags with paper ones
- plastic ear buds and shower caps have been removed from the rooms
- the marketing office no longer supplies info packs in plastic sleeve envelopes, they have been replaced with brown bags
- removal of 300ml juices from beverage stocks as they contain plastic straws
- Where possible milk is used in jugs and not small single use plastic tubs
The majority of the construction staff during the building phase of the Kwa Zulu Natal Isibindi Lodges were from the local community.
This was an opportunity for new skills to be learnt as well as for the community to play a very real role in the development of the lodges. We at Isibindi Africa Lodges believe that this has played a large role in the community feeling real ownership in the projects.
A lot of the building staff went on to be trained as operations staff. Further up skilling occurs throughout the operations phase as we endeavor to improve service and the guest experience. Approximately 50% of our employees were previously unemployed and had had no previous work experience.
They are now trained and working in a high-end ecotourism lodge. Isibindi Africa has transferred numerous skills which have changed lives. In-house exchange training occurs throughout the lodges; staff also visit the other Isibindi Africa Lodges and are up skilled, this is reciprocated.
At Kosi Forest Lodge, Thandi, who was the head chef for 15 years, eventually fulﬁlled her dream of becoming a school teacher. And a number of staff received their 15 and 20 year long service awards; namely Blessing, Esnurse and Jerome.
Kitchen staff have received training over the years at by Carl Moller, Isibindi Group Executive Chef, often visits the lodges kitchens providing support and training. Guides who show potential in receiving their driver’s license are assisted by the lodges. Various goods and services like ﬁrewood, fruit and vegetables, sewing repairs, vehicle repairs and re-thatching is supplied by the local community to the lodges every year.
At Thonga Beach Lodge 88% of our employees are employed from the local Mabibi community, of which the 80% are Previously Disadvantaged Individuals (PDI). The community owns 63% of the buildings through the Madeco Community Trust. This investment is held in MABIBI DEVCO. The buildings are leased to Isibindi Africa Lodges. This loan was funded by Ithala development bank. To date the community has paid 80% of this loan. Isibindi Africa Lodges has self-funded the expansion of the lodge since then, and all upgrades since the lodge was built. The community also owns 51% of the Mabibi campsite and Thonga 36 Beach Lodge owns 49% of the campsite (the campsite’s wage bill is currently R408 000.00).
At Kosi Firest Lodge, over 95% of our staff is employed from the local community. The percentage of staff PDI (Previously Disadvantaged Individuals) is 100%. 26 of the 34 staff members were previously unemployed. The current lodge manager Blessing Mngomezulu started working at the lodge as a general building labourer. With support from Isibindi he attained his FGASA guide qualiﬁcation, received further training at Thonga Beach Lodge, attended hotel school and is now the lodge’s General Manager. He has been managing the lodge since 2013. In 2018 the annual wage bill paid to the Mnyayiza community was R2 038 000.00.
To date Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge has spent R36 000.00 repairing pumps and water pipes supplying the Mpembeni community on behalf of the municipality. We now have two water points for the community to collect water as the local municipality is unreliable and this is often their only water supply.
Planting of trees
In celebration of Arbor Day Rhino Ridge annually supplies and plants indigenous and fruit trees in the Mpembeni school and the clinic. Many thanks to the Chittenden family and Zululand Nurseries in Eshowe for their donations.
The need to grow awareness on conservation and tourism – and the beneﬁts of these two areas to local communities who reside alongside our environmentally protected areas is vital for their future sustainability. To achieve this, the Foundation working alongside the Mpembeni community to establish the Mpembeni Environmental Centre, a facility that will be used to run various educational workshops focusing on tourism and conservation, as well as serve as a base for environmental clubs for local children.
Local community members transport our staff as well as our guest, daily. Members are also involved in transport services to the lodges such as rubbish removal. Mentoring has also occurred in this SMME.
Through Isibindi Africa’s efforts the ESKOM electricity supply was upgraded for the ﬁrst-time, resulting in Mabibi's households having access to electricity.
“There is no such thing as “away” -when you throw anything away it must go somewhere”
All donations are always received with great appreciation and will take us a step closer to achieving our vision of investing in our communities in a conservation-oriented manner. All donations received will be utilized in one or more of our above programs. All project speciﬁc donations received will be allocated to the donor’s project of choice!