If you're heading off on holiday to South Africa, be sure to get under the skin of local culture with non-profit organisation Uthando. As our expert Issy discovered, it'll give you a unique and insightful look at Cape Town.
South Africa Holidays
I'm never sure where to start when I talk about South Africa. I've just come back from a two week trip, to explore more of the country and to make sure all my local knowledge was up to date, but also to see if I could discover any new hidden jewels.
Holidays in South Africa can be so diverse thanks to the beautiful scenery, wealth of activities but most importantly the people are so much fun - they always have a story to tell!
For me, one experience stood out on this trip. I visited Uthando, a non-profit organisation that supports Township projects throughout Cape Town. The projects help people in the community to learn new skills, be part of local businesses and help people to take pride and meaning in their lives.
Getting under the skin...
They offer cultural fieldtrips (philanthropic cultural tours) of the local Townships in the outskirts of Cape Town. No… they are not 'township tours' where visitors glimpse in and take pity on the poverty and misfortune. They organise only a few trips at scheduled times that fit with the local business schedules (rather than the tourists), and you get to watch the thriving trade first hand, getting involved in social club lunches, watch band rehearsals and school lessons first hand. The community is bustling with wonderful, bright and industrious people, and I was lucky enough to spend some time with some really inspirational older members of the community.
I also spent some time with the green fingered women who run the people's garden - a group of entrepreneurial women who grow and supply vegetables to schools in and around Cape Town.
Finally, I met the creative and super talented team at the Volcano Arts project, run summer camps and tour schools with plays they put on, as well as dance and music acts that educate others about important issues such as health, relationships and having a bright and moral future.
As you can probably tell, I came away from the experience feeling uplifted, happy and more than anything, moved. These people are amazing, the people that are helping are amazing and the person who is making this all possible is amazing. If you are visiting Cape Town, please do visit UTHANDO and show your support.