“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love” – Mother Teresa

As the coronavirus pandemic marches on leaving, uncertainty in its wake, we are reminded now more than ever of the need for charity. Saturday 5th of September is the International Day of Charity which commemorates the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa as well as highlighting the need for volunteer and philanthropic activities. All over the world, NGO's and other stakeholders are facing an unpredictable future at a time when needs are more acute than ever.

Morukuru Family does not exist in a vacuum, and our business, staff and guests have all been affected by COVID-19. However, even in these challenging and unsettled times, we choose to be positive and look forward with optimism. It sounds odd, but looking forward means looking back. And in preparation for this International Day of Charity, we reflect on generous acts of philanthropy by our guests who have supported the ongoing work of the Morukuru Goodwill Foundation( MGWF).

 The Morukuru Goodwill Foundation (MGWF) was founded in 2007, by Ed & Anka Zeeman owners of Morukuru Family, and has a multitude of goals including, but not limited to wildlife conservation. MGWF is committed to developing education and healthcare for local communities as well as providing assistance for small business ventures by way of mentorship and financial support. These efforts contribute to improving the socio-economic situation of neighbourhoods in the vicinity of the lodges situated in the Madikwe and De Hoop.

With generous donations from our guests at Morukuru Family, the MGWF has been able to assist with improvements to the Molatedi School (Madikwe), including building a new ablution block and a recycling facility. Financial contributions have also gone towards essential teaching equipment like books, blackboards and computers as well as painting, gardening and salaries for staff. Research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, in the USA, showed that participants who chose to donate enjoyed activated pleasure centres in the brain. This testifies that giving makes you feel better, which is something we can all benefit from, especially now.

 Not to be left out Morukuru Ocean House and Morukuru Beach Lodge are also keenly involved with their own education initiative with the adoption of the Ouplaas EK Primary School which is situated just a few kilometres away from the entrance to the De Hoop Nature Reserve. This school has a history dating back 100 years but is under-resourced and faces ongoing funding challenges. Support from MGWF, Morukuru De Hoop means the essential work of teachers can continue, as well as the critical work of the feeding scheme, that provides daily meals for pupils. Guests have embraced this project by way of generous donations meaning ongoing improvements like the gifting of computer equipment has been possible.

 Morukuru Family specialises in family safaris, and guests often ask if they can bring supplies to support the local school and community. Pack For a Purpose is championed by Morukuru Family. This initiative encourages travellers to use a small space in their luggage to make a big impact on communities at their destination. This scheme also allows parents to share the experience of donating to charity with their children, showing that from a young age, they can make positive changes in the world. Children by nature, love to help others, so nurturing their innate generosity encourages them to grow into active citizens.

We don't live in a perfect world, and there's never going to be an ideal time to give. However, there are always people out there in need of help. Whether interest rates are rising, the economy is in the doldrums, or we are experiencing a global pandemic, the reality is that when you donate you help others who need it.

Our guests often request to visit the Molatedi School and our lodge management creatively tie in the interest or expertise of the guests with the needs of the school. For example, a horticultural entrepreneur donated seeds to the school for the vegetable garden. Another guest, working with a sports brand, brought soccer outfits for the children, and a dentist gave a presentation to the school children on dental care and supplied toothbrushes and toothpaste.

 Time and again, our young guests commit to special fundraising projects at their schools back home before they travel to South Africa. We make sure these junior philanthropists can personally hand over their donations. Getting family and friends involved is a great way to motivate them to undertake their own efforts to give. We know it takes a village to address issues such as conservation and early childhood education. Getting those around you passionate about contributing has a positive effect and makes your own giving more tangible.

 Our Safari with a Purpose was developed by Morukuru Family and MGWF as an exclusive 3-day experience. This package allows you to flex your conservation and humanitarian muscles. Sign up for a specialist procedure like Rhino notching and a visit to Molatedi Village and school, to meet the headteacher and find out more about the projects supported by MGF. You don't need $10,000 to make a difference. Your charitable donation could result in a week's worth of meals for a child, medical attention, or even improved schooling.

As we look ahead to International Day of Charity 2020, these words from Mother Teresa never rung more true:  “Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go”. That's what Morukuru Family and MGWF do!