Mtentu Lodge is dedicated to the local community
Travel and tourism companies and lodges often only chase profit, forgetting their surrounding communities and only catering to affluent guests. We can assure you that this is not the case at Mtentu Lodge! Our local community is fully involved in the running of the lodge. They are always ready to help, with a smile mind you. These wonderful people are constantly ready and willing to open their hearts and homes and welcome in strangers like they are friends.
Mtentu Lodge is a community lodge and we’re focused on helping our community in every way possible.
ThandaMandla is an innovative asset-based youth empowerment programme created and run by FUN (Friends Uniting for Nature) Society, a charitable not-for-profit organisation based in British Columbia, Canada.
FUN Society partnered with Mtentu Lodge to be able to develop and pilot these programmes in the community of Baleni in 2012. Directly translated as Love Power in Xhosa, one of the local languages spoken in that area, the name was chosen to represent the two key pillars of FUN Society’s work in that region.
FUN Society worked at Baleni Senior Secondary School, with a group of 24 bright and talented youth on a project aimed at enhancing leadership skills, English language ability and entrepreneurship for social change.
In 2012, FUN Society hired an intern to help coordinate the development of this work into a volunteer-tourism programme. In the fall of 2012, two volunteers from British Columbia, Canada joined the FUN Society team at Mtentu Lodge to work with the youth at Baleni Senior Secondary School, as the first-ever Thanda Mandla Volunteers.
Using the concept of the Power Cube (Gaventa, 2006) and looking through a lens of integral theory (Wilber, 1998), this programme began as an action research project that ended up exploring the intersection of love and power as an approach to youth empowerment in rural South Africa and has resulted in a group of 24 youth in rural South Africa who have started projects that they believe will make their community or school better.
In the words of the ThandaMandla intern:
"My time spent on the ThandaMandla project in Pondoland, South Africa was without a doubt the most unique cultural and educational experience I have had to date. My role in this project was to teach a group of enthusiastic, brilliant, and just all around awesome students, aged 16-22, from a rural school in Pondoland. The main focus of this project was to create interactive and creative workshops for the students, which essentially gave them the tools to carry out community development projects of their choice. The ThandaMandla project uses an asset based community development approach, which encourages community members, in this case the students, to discover and use their assets to make meaningful change in their community. I believe that this approach is the most sustainable and effective way to do community development, and that is why working on this project was so fulfilling. Put that together with a community that is so welcoming that you are able to learn about the Pondo culture, take part in various traditional activities, learn some of the Xhosa language, and explore the most breathtaking landscape you will ever see, andyou get an experience that you truly fall in love with. I never wanted it to end!"
Dumasi Creche is a local crèche serving the children of Mtentu. Community run and supported, it was in desperate need of basic maintenance and improvement. Mtentu Lodge, in partnership with Ripples for Good foundation and Savages Football Club set about fixing the crèche over the course of three weekends, revamping the facilities at the school and providing much needed learning resources. All in all, the roof was replaced, walls were built, the entire place got a new coat of paint, a water tank was installed, a small jungle gym/swing was erected, a garden was planted and learning resources were dished out.
Currently the school limps on with one donation keeping it running. This donation is only able to pay for two teachers' wages. These wages are very small and we are in real danger of losing our teachers. The children also do not have a feeding scheme and it would be great to be able to feed them at school. So if you would like to help, we are looking for any donations or ideas to help improve the school. Our teachers would also benefit from training and volunteer assistance, should anybody want to get involved. Please contact the lodge if you would like to support the crèche.
Our Local Church
Mtentu has one traditional church. For years, the church sat unfinished with just the walls built. Together with a missionary group from Pietermaritzburg, volunteers set about building a new roof for the church. It took two days of hard work but in the end the roof took shape and finally rendered the church usable. Benches where also built to provide the seating needed for the church patrons.
The construction of the roof has acted as a catalyst to the church's members. Since the roof has been put on, the community has laid a floor, installed doors and started to put in window panes. Regular Sunday services now takes place and our community has a dry meeting place to meet and grow together spiritually. Our church could always do with help and we ask anyone interested in the church to contact the lodge.
The local community in the surrounding area is fully involved in the running of Mtentu Lodge. Always ready to help with a smile, these wonderful people are constantly ready and willing to open their hearts and their homes to new friends.
We have some amazing ways for our guests to experience rural life and get involved in cultural traditions. Watch this space for more information on our community initiatives.