Why “It Takes A Village” is so meaningful. Food on the table, clothes for the kids, and some extra bucks in the piggy bank. These essentials have gotten easier to come by for one lucky locality in South Africa. Since The Touch Down Group revitalized and re-opened Humala River Lodge nearly two years ago, the villagers are bringing home the bacon.
Located in Songimvelo Nature Reserve, the lodge not only generates tourism dollars for reserve conservation and community projects but also has empowered the locals by employing them. According to lodge manager Wessel Roodt, Humala employs 15 locals full-time, 4 on a special community project, 15 Swazi performers weekly and 4 casual laborers who help with all kinds of maintenance and property upgrades.
Furthermore, the lodge spends money on a weekly basis in the local business center, purchasing maintenance supplies, refilling gas, fueling the vehicles, and doing the laundry. All vegetables are bought from local gardens.
“In total, we pay approximately R120,000 per month on salaries to all these people and spend another R150,000 in the nearby service center, which has a multiplier effect on the local economy, excluding accommodation, transport, and uniforms for the staff,” says Roodt. Employees hold virtually every type of position: security, reception, restaurant chefs, barman, waiters, guides, spa staff, managers, maintenance, groundsmen, scouts, trackers, and drivers.
“Normally, one employee supports at least five people at home – that will give you an idea of the benefits spread to a wider group of people,” he says. “In other words, the 15 full-time employees support 65 people, and if you calculate the multiplier effect on the money spent in the surrounding communities, then the lodge contributes indirectly to approximately 1,000 people’s lively hood each month.”
What was once the vision of a few has become a reality for many. It’s not the only economy that has improved. There’s a sense of pride and purpose that pervades the village, and you can’t put a price on that.