Easter marks a change in the seasons and we can certainly feel a nip in the air in the evenings. We have been blessed with beautiful rain this year and the streams are still flowing strongly and the mountainside is enticing. All this nourishing rain and good sunshine means that the grasses have been growing and our strimmer teams have been working hard to keep paths open for many a hiker, rider and mountain biker.
Easter should be a period of renewal and hope. It is in light of all the recent developments in our country that we wonder about the future. What is freedom all about? And, how do we transform and grow our local economy and community? We are in the rural spaces where people can be forgotten and it seems more and more important to remain committed to education but not just any education, a quality education where children get a real springboard to success. The more we read the more we know how critical Early Childhood Development and Foundation Phase education is. And, we are very fortunate to see progress in our area in the Northern Berg.
Royal Drakensberg Primary
2017 marks 10 years of quality education at Royal Drakensberg Primary. While the Cavernite kids have all graduated and are all at boarding school, we are thrilled to have the little cousins from Montusi just starting. They join 75 other little people in this nurturing space.
This past week we held our annual MTB fundraiser. We changed things quite radically and decided on a family day of riding rather than a race and each participant needed to raise R1000 for education by selling 10x R100 Raffle Tickets. Although the number of entries declined we had a wonderfully successful day with a super hospitality tent full of treats for all the participants. Much thanks goes to the N3TC, our main sponsor, for their continued commitment through their Changing Lives Programme. As guests you shouldn’t be too concerned about paying these tolls. The N3TC provides a safe passage from Heidelberg to Cedara on the N3 route, they are continually maintaining this wonderful section of road through the countryside but best is that they are committed to growing communities and we are very grateful to them.
It is the achievements of the children which continues to motivate us with this project. Our Big5Hike has become such a successful event that we have a waiting list for the event taking part in May! We thank all to our sponsors who make this possible.
The Khanyisela Project
While Royal Drakensberg focuses on a smaller number of children we assist 14 local pre-schools in the Amazizi Village through the Khanyisela Project. Dave & Daphne Thurlwell are our administrators and their dedication has ensured that we have taken giant steps in helping uplift this community. This year we will see two new buildings – one at Zamokuhle and another at Sbusisiwe School. We are also very excited to welcome Dr Marysia Nash and her colleague, Gemma Macdonald, back in May. These ladies have been instrumental in assisting us with our mentorship programme and for growing learning and language development through play.
Investing in the children is imperative but it is also vital that we keep a close eye on things in the home. Our guides have spent the past 6 months doing training with Lee Fuller from Tugela River Lodge. Lee is the most enthusiastic person and his wealth of knowledge has helped enormously in building our team.
We are also very happy to announce that our new spa trainees all passed their Camelot training. Nontobeko & Nomusa completed their Skincare Modules and will be doing facials now. Nakai, Sindi Mbhele, Sindi Mazibuko, Mbali, Zinhle and Malefu completed modules on Massage, Manicures and Pedicures. While there isn’t space for everyone at the Forest Retreat the ladies will be rotating through this department to hone and develop their skills.
In the next couple of months we will be redoing our First Aid training and our nannies will be getting ready for another session with Vital Life to ensure the little people holidaying here are kept safe and busy in our playroom.
In May we complete the last phase of bathrooms in our standard accommodation. This has been a mammoth task but lovely to see the end result. We are also upgrading rooms for our staff and have been doing some serious trimming in the gardens. Working for Water has been through the Cavern estate and many of the pines on the outskirts of the resort are dying off. In time these trees will be felled which will open up the views onto the mountainside.
May this Easter period bring renewed hope. Hope for a brighter future and a better tomorrow. If the world appears to be a dark space, perhaps it is time to head to the hills and stretch the limbs, breathe in the crisp mountain air and be surrounded by the natural environment which restores and replenishes.
Take care and our very best wishes,
The Cavern family