New library to empower community

2019-05-14 06:00
Chris Owen-Collett, general manager of Micato Safaris in South Africa.PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

Chris Owen-Collett, general manager of Micato Safaris in South Africa.PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

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Residents of Red Hill celebrated the launch of their new community centre and library – a significant upgrade which can be attributed to the contributions of tourists, among others on Friday 3 May

Tucked away in the South Peninsula is the community of Red Hill, an informal settlement that has received a generous gift from Micato Safaris which will now enable them to read more, access the internet to find jobs and allow learners to conduct research on the World Wide Web.

The company’s non-profit division, AmericaShare, the Red Hill Development Forum and Red Hill Literacy Project began work on this project last year when AmericaShare visited the community with the intention of making a long-lasting impact on residents.

Chris Owen-Collett, general manager of Micato Safaris in South Africa, explained that this development is the product of their commitment – and the commitment of their tourists – to make valuable contributions to the communities they visit.

“It is ironic that Red Hill is situated on a tourist route which sees more than a million visitors to Cape Point every year.

“Most tourists and even locals are not aware of this vibrant and close-knit community,” said Owen-Collett.

Regarding the centre, he said: “There was just this run-down community centre which wasn’t being used, so the library portion is completely new and we’ve revamped the community centre portion of it.”

The library is equipped with books, a computer centre and a printer, which Owen-Collett hopes will be used to empower the youth to become better informed, excel at their school work and help the unemployed to find jobs to support their families.

One community member has been trained to run the library, which will also be a space where tourists can meet the locals.

“We want to provide local communities with educational opportunities and we believe that tourism and local communities need to meet each other. Local communities need to benefit from tourism and tourists need to get a more real experience of South Africa.” 

With more than 1 500 residents in the impoverished settlement, Solly Fourie, Western Cape Government’s head of the department of economic development and tourism, commended the people who made this project possible. “We, from the department of tourism, really believe that tourism is a catalyst for socio-economic development and growth, if it’s done in a responsible and sustainable way.”

He continued: “It’s great for me to see that a community such as Red Hill and the many tourists, through Micato and Owen and AmericaShare, have developed a commitment to invest in not only the extramural activities but in the lives of young people.”

The learners were also happy about the new development. Masibulele Njobe said: “I’m excited about the library. We’re going to use the library to search things for our homework and use it for assessments.”

Owen-Collett concluded: “We’re going to be bringing our guests here so they can get a deeper level of interaction with the community.”

  • For more information on how to get involved contact Janusz Skarzynski on 063 684 2212.

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