Khusela Ikhaya, started by local social enterprise Transception, is pioneering re-sponsible tourism as a means of broadening its reach into disadvantaged communities.
The organisation paints homes in informal settlements with a specially developed tumescent paint, that dramatically reduces the possibility of fire spreading, thus reducing the incidence of the devastating shack fires experienced in informal settlements.
A major drive in Franschhoek recently saw a group of exchange students from Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, assisting with the painting of homes and other buildings. Bolander caught up with the team at the Haute Cabriere Education Centre, and spoke to Libby Wetzler.
“Being able to do this work makes me feel like I want to learn more about this particular community,” said Ms Wetzler.
“We’re only here for a week unfortunately, but we’ve already done a good deal of work in Soshanguve already.”
The group, studying at the University of Pretoria for the current semester, was doing service in Cape Town for a week.
“I think responsible tourism is a really good idea, because it allows you to contribute meaningfully to a community, and I think it is also important to learn about the culture and history of the community in which you are rendering service,” she said. “I think it gives you a fuller understanding of the place that you are visiting. Cape Town is an amazing city with much to see, but responsible tourism gives you the opportunity to engage with communities. They are just as much a part of Cape Town as is anything else.”
Chris Diedericks, managing director of Safe Zone, a Somerset West company which supplies flame retardant chemicals, added: “We’re partnering with Khusela Ikhaya by supplying the flame retardant chemicals for treating all of the soft furnishings in this school.”
“All the chemicals we use are completely non-toxic and water-based so they pose no health threat at all. This project is an important part of our social responsibility undertaking,” he said.
Reflecting on the farm’s involvement in the school, Haute Cabriere cellar master Takuan von Arnim, said: “We’re giving these children that first big step that they need, and the next generation needs that step.”
The day care centre cares for 38 children, and also provides an after school environment which ensures that homework is done.
“In a way its like focusing on nature, wanting to leave the planet in a better state than you found it. You can’t point fingers unless you’ve done something yourself.”
Khusela Ikhaya’s Ashely Stemmet brought Bolander up to speed on developments.
“The (Khusela Ikhaya) Project is now registered as an NPO and we are awaiting our Section 18a (of the Income Tax Act) approval which will make donations tax deductable. We are pursuing a number of initiatives including a skills development platform, life skills and motivation related talks, a sports academy and a leadership academy,” he said.
“Funding is a major concern for us, as the City of Cape Town, which has aided us with funding thus far, has only so much to give. We’ve approached a number of major corporate sponsors recently and we’ve had positive responses which will result them in the making funds available in the near future.”
Mr Stemmet explained another initiative which is paying dividends. “It’s built around #stopshackfires, and focuses on a 90 second video flighted on big screens at Newlands during every Stormers home game. It highlights the cause of the problem and it suggests a solution. It is a call to action which allows people to SMS #stopshackfires to 3988, which results in a R15 donation.
“We also have a SnapScan QR code which we promote in social establishments,” he said, adding that the Slug and Lettuce pub and restaurant group has adopted the project and volunteers are allowed to approach patrons in these establishments in pursuit of donations.
In addition to the video played before Stormers home games, volunteers wearing #stopshackfires T-shirts engage with patrons for two hours before the game starts in an attempt to solicit donations. “The other ongoing initiative, is team members of the Stormers and Ajax Cape Town, who on their days off, when they don’t train, giving back to communities by helping with painting of dwellings. Community members find this tremendously motivating, as some of these team members, come from the communities which they are helping to uplift,” he said.
To contribute to Khusela Ikhaya, SMS #stopshackfires to 39888, or scan the QR code with your SnapScan app and make a donation for a different amount.