Between March 2006 and March 2017, our village experience tours have brought 4 645 clients to visit and provided an income to Matsoaing service providers of R1 971 688.
Our tours visiting No. 10 Riverside make a substantial contribution to the local economy. Beside the Nkune family, (the main service providers and hence the major beneficiaries), over 70 other families in the local community see some benefit from tours to the area.
Two dance/culture groups have been set up in the neighboring villages of Makhapung and Mathakheng and they are paid R65 per person for their demonstrations of dancing and the artifacts used by people in their daily lives. The traditional healer is visited and paid R25 per person for her time and explanations. The evening entertainment groups encourage participation of guests, and the two groups, one made up of shepherds and one of ladies from the villages each receive R35 per person for their performances. All of these people not only benefit from the extra income flowing into their lives and their community, but there is also a tremendous enthusiasm about presenting their culture to a wider audience. Basotho people in the eastern highlands are proud of their culture and the visit of tourists reinforces such pride! Horses for riding at No 10 are provided by local villagers via an informal Pony Trekking Association on a rotation basis and so a large number of local families benefit from this. They receive R100 per horse per ride.
We have recently started visiting the Matsoaing Shepherds’ School. This evening school is run by local volunteers, and aims to provide the young shepherds of the Highlands with a range of skills to assist them in their later lives. They learn language, arithmetic and crafting skills. Besides our visits supporting a worthy cause, it also gives a unique opportunity to interact with them. We set aside R15 per person which the school uses to help buy crafting materials. You can support them further by buying some of their wares.
Drakensberg Adventures have established relationships with two local primary schools, Mphere and Ha Tseko. Groups doing tours during the week in term time usually visit one of the schools, but irrespective of whether the tour visits the schools or not, we set aside R25 per person for supporting the schools. Our objective is to provide support to enhance the learning environment for the learners at the schools. In March 2013, we handed over two sets to football kit, one to each school, for the use of their 1st football teams. This was celebrated by a match between the two schools.
In August 2013, we provided Mphere School with educational materials to the value of R1650. These were English teaching aids in the form of the THRASS program. These were enthusiastically received by the whole Mphere school community!
In February 2015, a group of learners from Beechen Cliff School in England spent a few days assisting Ha Tseko School with furniture and painting of murals.
Both schools identified a lack of space as a major constraint and so we agreed to start a project aimed at building new classrooms for each school. The funds we had accumulated over the years, together with a substantial donation from Beechen Cliff School in the UK meant that we had sufficient funds to complete the first phase of the project. It took around a year, but each school now has a new classroom built of concrete block and corrugated iron, and constructed in a manner such that it will be possible to add a second classroom on once further funds are accumulated. Ha Tseko School had their official opening in October 2016 and Mphere opened their new classroom in April 2017.
In addition both schools urgently require more teaching space as they have two classes per classroom and teacher, with quite large groups sharing. Both schools have started projects to build a new classroom block. We have sufficient funds accumulated to allow each school to build one classroom (with the help of funds donated by Beechen Cliff School) and this has been done in such a way that a second classroom can be easily added in the future when further funds become available. The new classroom at each school should be completed by the end of 2016 and ready for use at the start of the new school year in January 2017.
Beechen Cliff School visited again in February 2017 and spent time at Ha Tseko School. Beautiful murals were painted on the walls of the new classroom and the teacher in charge, John Young brought carpentry tools and taught local people how to repair the existing broken desks which the school had. The relationship between Beechen Cliff and the schools in Lesotho has truly brought great benefits on both sides!