Community conscious tourism
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, like most conservation areas worldwide, is located in a very rural and economically depressed area, making positive engagement with local communities crucial for its long-term sustainability. Their community conscious approach aims to enhance the overall contribution of tourism to improving the lives of local communities and the Mgcamabele Community Centre exemplifies this approach.
The Mgcamabele (meaning ‘rainbow’ in isiXhosa) Community Centre has become a central hub for community development on the Kwandwe Reserve. The centre grew out of the initiative and determination of community leader, Noluvo Sideba and her women’s self-help group who took it upon themselves to establish a crèche, which they constructed with building materials salvaged from old farm structures. The crèche was named ‘Imizamoyethu’, meaning ‘our effort,’ reflecting the perseverance and resourcefulness of the community.
Recognising the significance of what the community had done for themselves, the Foundation took the next step and began fundraising in earnest for a brick and mortar centre which opened in 2010. The multi-purpose centre now houses two pre-school classes, a crèche, gym, craft centre, training room and mini library with computers.
Seven local women are employed full-time and a further four women and six youths run their own businesses from the centre. In addition, the centre has recently taken over management of the small convenience store in the village, creating a further employment opportunity and providing an additional source of income.
The centre is run under the leadership of community members and is managed and overseen by a community-appointed Steering Committee. Funds for the running of the centre are raised through Kwandwe’s guest levy, guest donations, pre-school fees (which are heavily subsidised) and fundraising events. These income sources and other revenue generating initiatives are aimed at ensuring that the centre achieves full financial sustainability.
Guests to Kwandwe are welcome to visit the community centre and to get involved with the daily activities.