Explore Audley's guide to Responsible Travel in Africa. View our recommended eco-accommodation options, charities we support, and any additional relevant policies and practices.
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Africa and The Indian Ocean
Himba settlement, Serra Cafema, Namib Desert
Uthando South Africa is a registered non-profit organisation based in Cape Town.
Founded in 2007, the organisation raises funds for a broad range of community based projects which support the most vulnerable sectors of society, in some of the most destitute areas of the city.
Over the last few years Audley has supported a number of projects through the charity. In 2011 this was the GCU (Greater Commission United), a project that aimed to keep children from the Cape Flats township off the streets by giving them a safe place to go, providing them with access to sports such as soccer, tutoring, mentorships and school assistance.
This year the donation will go to the Amy Biehl Foundation, one of the Uthando projects, that aims to empower five to 18 year olds by providing education and cultural activities that offer students a healthy alternative to crime, drugs, sex, idleness and negative influences and unlock their creative talent.
Me to We is a non-profit organisation which arranges trips to visit local communities around the world, allowing travellers a genuine insight into the cultures of the countries they are visiting. It works alongside the Canadian charity Free the Children, whose work includes various projects to free children from child slavery, provide education and support to their local communities. The charity's development model includes provision of clean water, sanitation, education, health, alternative income and agricultural education with the ultimate goal of helping the villages become fully self sustained with an improved quality of life.
In Kenya, you can take part in a three or seven day “voluntourism” stay just outside the Masai Mara in a region known as Bogani, where Free the Children works with numerous villages which are all at different stages of development. The experience is more about education and social involvement than getting your hands dirty building schools etc. So whilst you can take part in various activities, much of the time is spent talking with the women, men and children in different villages and learning more about their lives, discovering their needs and how the development project is making a difference.
Storytelling plays a real part in your stay, with interesting speakers providing a different slant on charity work, or a Maasai askari sharing his story of how he struggled to convince the village elders to permit him to have an education. During the course of your stay you will see villages which have only recently started working with Free the Children, and those that have been working with them for many years - the difference is astonishing!
You will visit schools, have singalongs with children, learn to bead with the village's women, collect water with the Maasai mamas, plant trees for forestry projects, and can get involved in helping add bricks to a school building, or lay foundations for a health centre. If you have particular skills which you want to make use of, for example, if you are a teacher and want to spend your time working with the schools, this is of course very much welcomed!
The excursions themselves depend on the need at the time, but you can be assured that every day will be different and your experiences will be both humbling and eye-opening.
Our friend and former colleague Ariana Grammaticas left Audley in 2007 to return to her home country of Kenya. In early 2008 she wrote to us about The Mara Rianda Charitable Trust. Set up by Richard Long, who visited Kenya in 2004, it supports the school and community in the wider Mara area. All the money Richard raises is used to provide this support, and he covers administration costs himself.
The Trust has installed a borehole to supply fresh water, built five new classrooms, provided bursaries for exceptional students to go to secondary school and paid the salary for one teacher. Most recently, in 2013, the Trust also opened the Mara Rianda Medical Centre, complete with three wards, consulting rooms and a dispensary.
Though much has been achieved, there is always much more that can be done.
We initially became involved with The Mara Rianda Charitable Trust to help with its aim to bring clean drinking water to the children of Aitong Primary School, who were previously drinking from a muddy spring. Complications arose when it was discovered that the spring the trust had hoped to tap for clean water dried up for three months each year. After several meetings with the Maasai elders, it has now been agreed that the water can be taken from the main spring at Aitong village and pumped over one kilometre to the school. This project is now completed, aided by donations from Audley and other organisations.
More recent achievements at the charity have included a new kitchen and dining room at the primary school which is now fully waterproof, delighting the parents who help cook the meals there. The trust has also funded the building of a new maternity unit at Mara Rianda, as women who had complications previously had to travel for three hours on a bus to the nearest hospital.
In addition to this they are working with a new school, Olipikdong’oe, which needed help to install electricity so that the children who board could study after dark. A further two new primary schools have been built that allow light in, unlike the original mud buildings made out of dung. It also provides a classroom for another school that was being taught under a tree.
As the maternity unit at Mara Rianda grows Audley is helping to support the installation of solar power to allow continuous lighting throughout the night. As well as this the trust is aiming to support a further twelve children through secondary school.
If you would like further information please speak to your Africa specialist or visit the Mara Rianda website. Alternatively, if you are going to Kenya and are staying at any of the Governor’s Camps in the Masai Mara, do ask the staff to take you to visit.
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