To find out about life in 1000 Hills beyond the obvious, 1000 Hills CTO has produced an informative documentary video about the proactive and leading community structures and the impact these hard working organisations have on the communities they serve.
Only on watching the video, did I begin to appreciate the enormity of the reach of the Local Benefit Organisations active in the area.
To be an authentic structure able to support 1000 Hills in its entirety, the 1000 Hills Community Tourism Organisation has to nurture a meaningful relationship with the Public Benefit Organisations and to campaign on their behalf wherever possible.
Community Tourism on Point
“This is the crux of community tourism – using the resources of mainstream hospitality to support the community it serves. Employment options; partnership strategies; funding opportunities and stakeholder engagements have to cascade down to the people who live in the area to have any wide-reaching benefit,” considers Jane Candow – 1000 Hills Community Tourism marketing liaison officer and producer of the documentary.
“We wanted to showcase the astonishing, selfless work on our doorstep and to conscientise visitors as to the full spectrum of what 1000 Hills has to offer,” continues Candow.
“We commissioned videographer Carl de Heer from On Show Media and presenter Victoria Raw to spend time among our PBOs and find out more about their history, values and what services they offer. It was a hugely affirming exercise for me to be reminded of the selfless work taking place around us; finding proactive solutions to support vulnerable communities – people living with HIV / Aids and GBV; families living in poverty; the sick and elderly; food security initiatives; caring for our youth as well as abused and neglected domestic animals.”
“As tourism operators, guests frequently asked questions about the community organisations working alongside us – so we thought an instructive documentary might be helpful in taking the conversation further and to inform people of the work being done and to allow those running the organisations to speak in their own voice .”
“As Victoria says in the video: We invite you to get invoved and get in touch!”
PBOs can apply for free membership. Some of the proactive PBOs in the area include 1000 Hills Community Helpers; Embocraft Training Centre Trust; Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust; Inchanga Railway Museum; Kloof and Highway SPCA; Kloof Conservancy; Mpumalagna Heritage Museum; Springside Nature Reserve; Vuleka; Upper Highway Rail Trail and The Valley Trust.
The video is not a comprehensive overview of all of all that is being done – but it does allow viewers a behind the scenes glimpse into the work of some of the key organisations.
1000 Hills Community Helpers
Founded by veteran community activist and 1000 Hills resident, Dawn Leppan in 1989; the 1000 Hills Community Helpers focuses on building community and to this end, offers outreach in the form of meals on wheels and medicine distrbution; and on-site support in the form of a clinic with three doctors on call from Monday to Friday offering free health-care and family planning; a busy crèche for vulnerable youngsters; a library; a feeding station and a craft hub.
Dawn speaks passionately about her calling, and in conversation with Victoria, tells her that their elderly ambulance had to be retired. She appeals to anyone who can help her sponsor or source a new one. (If you can help, contact 031 783 4013)
Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust
Hillcrest Aids Centre was one of the first NGOs to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and since opening its doors in 1990 has made a significant and meaningful impact on the lives of people affected and infected by the disease.
Their primary focus is on serving the semi-rural and disadvantaged communities of the Valley of 1000 Hills region which was one of the original epicentres of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The HACT offers a comprehensive range of services: a plant nursery selling mostly indigenous plants; Ubuntu Ground Coffee; various thrift stalls; their Gogos and Grandchildren community garden food security project; and their 24 bed respite unit to care for HIV positive patients and offering palliative care for cancer-sufferers.
We also get to see their beautiful Wall of Remembrance honouring HACT patients who have passed on.
Woza Moya is well known in the area and an anchor project of the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust. It is a fabulous onsite craft store, which provides an income to roughly 160 crafters (includes pottery, beadwork, sewing, crocheting, fabric painting and wirework) that are supported by the funds raised through craft sales. The crafters are all community members who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. Woza Moya is also the name behind a number of well-publicised art projects, including the Dreams 4 Africa Chair and the World’s First Beaded Suit. They have a satellite shop in Windermere Centre.
Victoria accompanied Barbara Patrick from Kloof and Highway SPCA on a walkabout – checking out the beautiful nature reserve; meeting the cute coffle of donkeys rescued from the illegal skin trade; meandering through the tea garden and myriad interesting charity shops; visiting the animals in their care – including their resident ducks and peacocks – and attending an emergency pick up to collect a kitten in distress.
The Valley Trust grew out of a community clinic which opened in 1951 led by pioneer doctors, Halley Stott and his family and Dr John Ackerman, who wanted to help people guard against preventable diseases. They established a system of home visits by trained nurses, and also taught nutrition and agriculture.
Through raising funds and effectively mobilising resources the Valley Trust builds the capacity of local communities to sustainably ensure their own good health. Their areas of focus are their programmes, fundraising and property management. Victoria visited some of the young people and youth benefiting from Valley Trust – they offer home visits to children from birth to six years old; and youth development initiatives including computer and leadership skills.
Valley Trust also has very reasonably priced comfortable accommodation in a 30 bed facility.
Inchanga Railway Museum
Victoria met Adrian Rowe for a guided tour of the Inchanga Railway Museum – the half way point of the monthly Umgeni Steam Railway trips. The museum occupies what was once the station master’s house – a quaint old homestead on-top of the nearby hill which is home to various historical artefacts, quirky curiosities and memorabilia.