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Tswalu Kalahari has a large community of 142 staff together with their families. Sometimes the number of our employees surprises visitors. Here at Tswalu, staff levels are high to ensure the highest levels of service for our guests but also because we are directly responsible for the conservation and care of 100,000 hectares. So ours is a big family.
The majority of staff grew up on the remote farms from which Tswalu was first formed. Others come from the nearest towns, Deben (90 kilometres away) or Kuruman (120 kilometres). But Tswalu is everyone’s home now.
In 2009 we completed development of our new staff village. Our houses have been designed on sound environmental principles, emphasising insulation from the hot Kalahari sun. Planting of indigenous, deciduous trees provides shade in summer and the sun’s warmth in winter. Each house is fitted with solar water heating and low energy lighting.
These new homes lie within easy reach of our creche, sports facilities and Primary Healthcare Clinic. Tswalu runs its own registered pre-school for all children. In addition we have a full-time teacher devoted to our adult literacy programme where learning is all computer-based, raising further skills in the process. This investment is transforming literacy levels from 12% a decade ago to over 70% today. But we’re aiming for 100%.
We operate a fully equipped Primary Healthcare Clinic. All treatment is free of charge, not just for Tswalu residents but for anyone from the surrounding area. We take pride in our standards of care, which result from a three-way partnership. The State’s Department of Health provides medication, Tswalu provides the buildings, vehicles and employs a full-time nurse, and a group of medical professionals in Germany, led by Dr. Ludwig Focking, provides equipment. Ludwig is a former guest who fell in love with Tswalu and first proposed our clinic; he also trains our nurse at his practice in Germany.
Our clinic also plays a vital role in the local community in conducting extensive educational awareness on HIV/AIDS as well as the importance of proper nutrition. To encourage healthy eating, we have created food gardens and planted citrus orchards.
In this way, Tswalu now provides opportunities for employment, skills training and free healthcare to a community that historically had no access to these fundamentals. Now we are also hoping to assist other communities. We have already donated a game drive vehicle to a community-run game reserve in Kuruman. We have even given our own ostriches to a communal ostrich farm.
Tswalu Kalahari has achieved Fair Trade in Tourism accreditation, based largely on this positive impact on the local community as well as our enviromental and conservation achievements.