We had a busy and exciting first quarter of the year and it seems to become even busier for the rest of the year.
Madi a Thavha to be flagship of Craft Initiative project
The National Arts Council (NAC) recently chose Madi a Thavha as a flagship Craft Initiative Project. Its aim is to align master crafters in Northern Limpopo with talented hand crafters around them. Madi a Thavha has nurtured and supported a network of local artists and hand crafters during the past 12 years and is well equipped and well situated in the middle of Northern Limpopo’s rich cultural heritage to continue doing just that.
During the NAC Creativity in Craft Training programme of 2015 the collaboration between artists and crafters and masters and students, resulted in new products like traditionally inspired, contemporary jewelry pieces, beaded baskets and beaded-and-embroidered interior products. In the process we also exchanged business skills, gained new knowledge of production processes and got a better understanding of the sourcing and use of raw materials.
In 2016 we continue to build upon the lessons we learned during 2015. We enjoy to breathe new life into traditional skills and would love to keep the rich cultural heritage alive while at the same time, create livelihoods through support to cultural enterprises.
Clever disabled weaver on board
We were thrilled when we recently ‘discovered’ the skilled, 73-year-old Tsonga-basket-weaver Mphephu Tshirenda. Only women are allowed to make this particular Tsonga baskets that she makes. It is done with ‘Tisothso’ an indigenous climber similar to rattan. Tisothso is harvested in the fields around villages, cooked, stripped of its bark, coloured with natural dyes and only then arduously woven into form with patterns. It requires days of preperation and work, proper skills and well entrenched indigenous knowledge. Mphephu is deaf and cannot talk but with the help of a lot of gestures back and forth, laughter and clever plans with tape-measured sticks, she knew exactly what we wanted and is now part of a collaborative team producing ‘new style’ beaded baskets.
Authentic Tsonga cultural festival
We visited Hosi Ngove’s annual Heroes day with Olivia Smeets from Belgium and Guusje Hoogervorst from the Netherlands both studying Tourism management in Europe now doing their internship at Madi a Thavha for a couple of months.
This rural festival at the far north-eastern side of the country is a unique opportunity to experience a burst of vibrant and truly authentic Tsonga culture first hand.
Vulnerable children get a push
During the first quarter of the year Madi a Thavha helped Vutshilo Mountain school to raise funds to keep on caring for vulnerable women and HIV positive children from extremely impoverished circumstances. Our website builder Bas Rennings and Oliva and Guusje are already busy creating a new website for the school.
Jacques’s Easter eggs project
Jacques Smeets, Oliva’s father, immediately wanted to help when he heard about Vhutshilo Mountain school. He first went to a supermarket in Belgium asking if they had any Easter eggs left and when he explained about the school the supermarket gave him all the unsold Easter eggs straight away. But when he proposed to Olivia the idea of giving Easter eggs to Vutshilo’s children she replied they could better do with money than with chocolate. Jacques was not put off. On a beautiful sunny Sunday in Belgium, he went with the Easter eggs to a hockey game of his favorite lady’s team, the KHC Dragons and started selling them in the crowd. Moved by his effort, the ladies of KHC Dragons soon joined selling and a week later, Jacques and his family traveled to South Africa to meet Olivia at Madi a Thavha. She took them to Vhutshilo mountain school to deliver the money he collected himself. The teachers, helpers and children loved the Easter egg story and are grateful for this wonderful gesture of support.
KLM added suitcase with toys
The Dutch Van Veldhuizen family also heard of Vutshilo mountain school via Madi a Thavha. Back at home they started to collect Duplo Lego and other toys for Vutshilo’s children before they came to South Africa this year. KLM allowed them to take an extra suitcase to bring everything to South Africa.
Vhutshilo mountain school supports 50 HIV positive and vulnerable children. Most of them are orphans.
First aid at lodge up to standard
During March all our tour guides; Paul, Thomas, Alfred, Musa, Tebocho, Aart and Marcelle renewed and updated their first aid training which is done every two years. The presenter Andrew Miller is specialized in Corporate and Wilderness First aid and we are pleased that all our First aid boxes for the lodge, tours and for guests going on walks in the mountain, are up to standard and that our emergency and safety procedures are in place.
Twenty US medical students expected in June
We are preparing for the stay of 20 American medical master students at the beginning of June. Dr Debra Sutton, Associate Professor Department of Health Sciences also brought a group of medical students from Virginia last year and had this to say:
We had an absolutely fabulous rural experience at Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge last year. It was a perfect setting for our study-abroad-program and the learning experiences you planned were exceptional. In addition, the food and hospitality was outstanding! I realized right away that we could easily have spent a lot more time in Louis Trichardt and the surrounding villages so I’ve initiated a similar program this year.