Sanctuary Retreats’ philanthropy – making a difference where it counts
Tourism is the world’s largest industry, growing larger every year. Hand in hand with this has come an unprecedented level of interest in responsible travel and a rise in philanthropic programs and ‘volun-tourism’, with travellers increasingly seeking to give back to the communities they visit. This has, in turn, placed pressure on tourism suppliers to improve their social and environmental responsibility.
Boutique luxury travel operator Sanctuary Retreats is a company that has been committed to conservation and responsible tourism ever since opening its first camp in the Masai Mara in 1999. Says Michael McCall, Director of Sales Australia, NZ & Asia the company has always strived to build long lasting relationships with rural communities in the areas in which it operates, making a point of identifying and supporting long-term, viable and self-sustaining projects. “Our aim is to ensure that all projects are supported by our staff and guests and we work closely with communities to identify their needs so we can deliver projects that really have an impact.”
Here are some of Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy’s success stories.
Ilboro School, Tanzania
Children in Tanzania with hearing impairments or mental or physical impairments are often left with limited opportunities to receive a formal education. A decade ago, in response Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy (SRP) funded the construction of the first special needs primary school in Arusha, especially designed to meet the needs of deaf and disabled children. Unfortunately, once pupils graduated from the primary school, they were returned to regular mainstream education where teachers are not trained or equipped to deal with their unique learning needs, resulting in a high drop-out rate.
Recognizing the issue, SRP decided to further support these children by building a secondary school at Ilboru in partnership with Tanzania’s Ministry of Education. The Ministry provides specially trained teachers to work at the two-story, five-classroom facility. In addition to standard academic courses, the school also teaches vocational skills such as sewing, which has significantly increased the chances of students securing employment upon graduating.
In 2016, in partnership with Worldreader, SRP also commenced an innovative literacy program at Ilboru’s Primary School with the use of digital e-readers, which has given children access to a large library of textbooks and literature in both English and their local language of Swahili.
Nakatindi Clinic, Zambia
Approximately five kilometres from Sanctuary Retreats’ Sussi & Chuma Lodge, the Nakatindi Village sits against the border fence of Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma has partnered with Nakatindi village on many projects, including education, conservation and the launch of a Bike Shop run by local women.
But one of its most successful programs has involved the rebuilding of a much-needed medical clinic within the Nakatindi Community. The clinic, which serves 50 people a day, has taken an active role in the prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS, which is highly prevalent within community. More recently, SRP has helped build and equip an addition to the clinic to serve as a maternity ward. The new facility has significantly improved labor and delivery conditions for both mothers and infants, and helped to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from mother to child.
Bwindi Community Hospital, Uganda
Starting as nothing more than a clinic operating under a mango tree, Sanctuary Retreats has helped transform Bwindi Community Hospital into a 112-bed facility that is consistently ranked the best hospital in Uganda. Recognising that a national shortage of nurses was having a negative impact on the hospital, the Uganda Nursing School Bwindi was opened in 2013 and celebrated its first graduation this year.
Through donations, SRP has been able to provide scholarships to promising local students who might not otherwise be able to afford the course. In addition to this, the success of the first graduating class has led to Bwindi Community Hospital becoming a government-funded hospital, meaning all doctor and nursing salaries are now paid by the Ugandan government.
Rhino Relocation, Botswana
Concerned by increased poaching of critically endangered rhino in South Africa, several years SRP into a partnership with Rhino Conservation Botswana, among others, to translocate black and white rhino from South Africa to Botswana. This project has been hugely successful, with the company now employing two full time conservation officers to monitor rhino in the Moremi Game Reserve.
Indeed, one of the most exciting successes has been the birth of lots of new baby rhino following the reintroduction of their mothers to Botswana, with two progeny now ready to leave their mothers and set up their own territories.
Sin Kyun Village, Myanmar Having partnered with Sin Kyun village following the launch of Sanctuary Ananda in Myanmar in 2014, SRP has worked closely with the village chief to identify areas where it can assist the community, with specific focus on improving the village school.
So far SRP has built accommodation for teachers, provided emergency assistance during severe flooding and in May 2017, completed the construction of a middle school at Sin Kyun. This means that children can now stay at Sin Kyun for school until they finish seventh grade. Previously the school only went up to fourth grade, following which students would have to cross the river to reach a neighbouring middle school – an often perilous journey during rainy season!
For more information about Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy, please visit: www.sanctuaryretreats.com