Cheetah Outreach- South Africa

By Amorette Aryee, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

While in South Africa I visited a Cheetah Outreach. This program serves to limit cheetah endangerment and prevent the killing of livestock. They use shepherd dogs to protect the grazing animals. Farmers kill a lot of cheetahs because they are responsible for killing up to 40% of livestock. This severely hinders profits and negatively affects their livelihood. To combat this, farmers set traps or poison this endangered species.

The Cheetah outreach program examines local farms for signs of cheetah occurrences. If one is discovered, a puppy is placed with the livestock. The shepherd dog is protective and quite aggressive. As it grows up, it is trained to protect the livestock. This exploits the cheetah’s non-aggressive behavior. The animal will avoid the dog’s presence at all cost. Thus protect its life and the farmers’ livelihood. Additionally, this program strives to educate people about cheetahs by explaining common misconceptions about the animal. It aids in supporting the declined species by being an ambassador and educating the public.


African fynbos around your neck?

By Grace Kelly, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

Everyone wants their jewelry to be aesthetically pleasing, but is it possible for it to be environmentally and economically sustainable as well? This was the mission of the founder of African Fynbosgems, a local South African enterprise dedicated to making pendants, earrings, and rings from recycled plants.

 The pieces are all made from fynbos, a type of shrub native to the Western Cape of South Africa that produces diverse, colorful foliage. Table Mountain alone contains over 2,200 species of fynbos. Because fynbos species are so heavily concentrated in the Western Cape, they are considered endemic to the area and are particularly vulnerable to non-native invasive species. Invasive species are not only one of the leading causes of global biodiversity loss but they also take up usable water. 

The South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry employs 20,000 local unskilled workers per year in order to remove the invasive species and care for these endangered shrubs. The flowers from these shrubs are collected by locals, dried and compressed into a solid block, and then shaped into pendants and lacquered. The final result is a bright, beautiful piece of jewelry with an engraving of the continent of Africa on the back. Not only do these pieces add a pop of color to any outfit, but help to provide a living for some of the 25% of South Africans that are searching for work.

My friend Megan bought a gorgeous blue and green necklace on our first day in Cape Town and loved it so much that she bought two more pieces for her friends at home! What’s your favorite locally-made souvenir that you’ve bought while traveling?

Africa in the wild... up close and personal

By Elizaveta Dyatko, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

My favorite Disney movie will forever be the Lion King. As a child, I would sing along the Hakuna Matata song and dream of having Timon and Pumbaa as my pets one day. While I didn’t get a chance to bring any South African wildlife back home during my trip to Aquila Private Game Reserve, I’ve had an exposure to some challenges and opportunities of preserving the wildlife and educating and empowering the local communities in the rural areas.

The mission of the Aquila Private Game Reserve is to promote sustainable tourism in South Africa and create social change. Aquila Game Reserve is named after the rare and endangered Black Eagle that thrives in the area. The Aquila Eagle Crest Conservation fund has been born out of a joint venture between Aquila Private Game Reserve and Swartland Winery in order to give something back to the environment that helps sustain both businesses.

The main objective of the project is to educate visitors about threats facing the Black Eagles in order to facilitate conservation efforts of the endangered raptor species and other wildlife species. Aquila is also home to a newly created Education center which houses information on their Eco Synergy systems as well as information on the plight of the Rhino.

Additionally, Aquila focuses on social enrichment, job creation, skills development, sustainable charity programs and empowerment efforts in the town of Touws River, which is situated 12kms from Aquila, where Aquila’s workforce resides. The town was built around a railway servicing plant that closed down in the 1980s leaving 97% unemployment amongst the approximately 12,000 previously disadvantaged residents. Over the past 14 years, Aquila has paid approximately R150 million in salaries, which has empowered locals and created flourishing primary, secondary and tertiary small businesses.

Aquila has facilitated hundreds of temporary staff members in learning new building skills. 95% of all previously disadvantaged staff has been trained with no prior experience to be fully competent and certified as game rangers, drivers, waitresses, cooks, registered security officers and anti-poaching guards, cleaners, front and back of house staff, game capture and translocation rangers, environmental and maintenance, etc.

Aquila also runs a winter Food for Litter campaign, where local residents are encouraged to collect litter, and trade it for recycling, whilst receiving meals for the collected litter. Over 350,000 meals have been provided to the local community during winter for the past several years. 


Leaping from the highest bridge!!


By Josh Levi, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

This was by far the most exhilarating 2 minutes of my life. I have never felt so much adrenaline in such a short amount of time.  I went bungee jumping in the garden/countryside of South Africa. At my bungee location called FACE, I went with a group of friends to bungee jump off the tallest bridge in the world. What was I thinking...

When we went to the shop after we jumped to purchase gear and look at our pictures, I talked to one of the employees who told me that a portion of the purchases of the videos and pictures from our jump would go to schools around the neighborhood. This company sees about 140 customers a day on average. The employees working there are extremely friendly and make little to no money for risking their lives to grapple down and pull you up from the swinging cord. There was an option to purchase a bit of the bungee cord to say thank you to all the people that made our experience the best it could be. This company is a for profit organization that looks to help the community as a whole. Overall, South Africa was by far my favorite port. There was no other place that I could say I want to move to after spending just 6 days there

From purchasing bracelets to providing energy

By Jenny Malina, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

American’s stereotypes of Africa typically consider enthusiastic drumming, colorful art, exotic face paint, sub-par infrastructure, and impoverished cities that survive on foreign aid. However, few realize how diverse the African continent is and how committed individual nations are to helping fellow African countries. Jafuta Foundation is a great example of this. The social enterprise supports individuals who help African communities develop and invests in the well-being of all Africans.

One of Jafuta’s competitive advantages of the Relate Bracelets initiatives is appealing to consumers’ affective side by allowing them to target certain causes with their purchases. To do so, they designed several lines of bracelets each committed to unique causes. I purchased a bracelet from the “Energy for Rural Areas” line because I was baffled by the gap between socio-economic classes during my time in port. Cape Town reminded me of developed beach towns like Malibu or South Beach, while rural areas barely had access to electricity. The overarching objective of this line of bracelets is thus to have simple and sustainable biogas systems installed in as many rural homes as possible. In turn, families will be healthier, women will be more productive, and trees will grow a greener Africa.

In addition, Jafuta Foundation sells bracelets to benefit Africans through investment, donations, and accountability. They created the trademark, “R” to signify all Relate Bracelets they sell as authentic. The proceeds are invested in townships, causes against Malaria, and business operation in addition to energy. In townships, they target struggling families and AIDS-orphaned grandchildren as beneficiaries. Donations for Malaria span more than 90 organizations across the continent and have prevented 1000’s of epidemics. Support for business has helped establish several disadvantaged organizations grow their potential and created transparency, accountability, and operating efficiency for local artisans. In turn, Jafuta Foundation has also created economic opportunities across the continent.

Dancing with the Happy Feet Foundation

By Mohamed Babiker, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

My visit to South Africa was truly inspirational and transformational. I had to the opportunity to see the good and the bad of the country. Although many might say that the townships in South Africa are sad and unfortunate, however, I found the beauty in my experience visiting one of the townships. The township I went to really showed me that they have a really great sense ofcommunity. Everyone takes care of everyone, every child is everyone’s child.  A product of this amazing love, is the Happy Feet Organization in Langa Township, Cape Town South Africa which was founded by Siviwe Mbinda in 2007, Happy Feet empowers children through gumboots dance to work hard towards positive goals and keeps them away from negative influences.

It brings together children from a wide range of ages to come and find unity and happiness through unique dance. We had the chance to see the girls and boys to perform their dances to us. Through their dances I could see the joy in their eyes. You could tell that they were all happy and loved to dance. Happy Feet also feeds these children twice a week. They also help them with their school fees when they can. This organization definitely does a really great job of occupying the kids and keeping them out of trouble. I would definitely go back or support this foundation.

Hello, World!