Meeting the Community

In 2013 Benson “adopted” a local village, located 14km out of Victoria Falls on the way to the airport on the main Victoria Falls – Bulawayo Road. The communities in this area were relocated in the colonial era from the fertile lands of the Midlands and Matabeleland South during the creation of farms by the settlers. Relocated into the poor unfertile Kalahari sandveld of Matabeleland North around Victoria Falls the only option for the communities was cattle raising and minimal subsistence farming. Predictably the cattle became easy prey of common predators like lion and hyena and the crops were destroyed by elephants.

The situation has left the communities vulnerable and brought about human / wildlife conflict. In a bid to get an education the children have to walk a long distance to get to the nearest schools, which exposes them to the risk of animal attacks. This discourages families from sending kids to school. Often children also drop out of school in order to assist parents with household chores.

In view of this predicament Ngoko has opted to provide basic education in the Intabayengwe village. Benson has built a basic pre-school / daycare centre which opened in January 2014. The school started with just a handful of kids and by the end of the first term the total count was 30 plus eager children. Each family is asked to contribute a nominal school fee, which is used to provide all the kids with breakfast and lunch each day, which the mothers’ prepare on a rota basis. The teacher’s salary is paid by Ngoko.

Due to the success of the first term the mothers requested adult literacy lessons which are now being provided. We are also supporting the community by teaching new skills with the aim of providing new sources of income and slowly diverting attention from reliance on non-sustainable income sources. After discussions with the villagers we recently provided a couple of sewing machines and introduced sewing classes for the ladies.

Safaritalk recently published an article on the community, written by Safaritalk founder Matt Wilkinson, after visiting the village with Benson:

Safaritalk: Visiting Benson Siyawareva’s School and Community Project

We are now offering cultural visits to the Intabayengwe village. Guests can enjoy a cultural exchange and get an insight into village life in its true form. Plans are underway to expand the tour to offer an overnight stay in the village. The funds from the village tours assist with the development of the school and the hosting families (allocated on a rotational basis) also benefit.

The village tour involves meeting the school kids and visiting one of the local homes and interacting with the community. Guests gain an understanding of how the community survive and the structure of a traditional village in terms of social, cultural and political hierarchies. Traditions, skills and folklore are revealed. Take a step back to a time of communal living and inter-dependency, where skills are handed down through the generations.

If you would like to include a visit to Intabayengwe please ask us for details when planning your trip. The visit is easily booked as part of a stay in Victoria Falls (on the Zimbabwe side).

How you can help

Since starting this project we have been humbled by the generosity and support of our guests. We have ambitions for our pre-school to be formally adopted into the government education system, in order to offer a full education to the kids. We are also keen to build a clinic in the village. We cannot achieve this alone.

You can help by visiting the community/school as part of your stay in Victoria Falls – or mention it to friends or family who may be in the area. If you have any spare space in your bag then consider bringing out some useful supplies.

We are proud members of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travelers like you to make a lasting impact in the community at your travel destination. If you save just a few kilos of space in your suitcase and bring supplies for area schools or medical clinics in need, you’ll make a priceless impact in the lives of our local children and families. Please click here to see what supplies are needed for our project.

Pack for a Purpose

Should you wish to make a monetary donation we pledge that 100% will be spent on the project – there are no deductions for administration or overhead costs.

Online donations can be made in the US through Generosity in Action, and are fully tax deductable. Generosity in Action is a designated fund at Philanthropic Ventures Foundation -a qualified US 501(c)(3) public Charity. Learn more about Philanthropic Ventures Foundation.

Click here to make an online donation.

Once at Generosity in Action Donate page click on the Ngoko Village Project button. Note: there is a 3% transaction fee to cover credit card fees, bank fees, and other processing costs.

A check can be made out to “Philanthropic Ventures Foundation” and note on the “memo” line on the check – “Ngoko Village”. Checks should be sent to Generosity in Action c/o Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, 1222 Preservation Park Way, Oakland, CA 94612-1201.

Thank you for your support!