The Lighthouse2Lighthouse committee has walked a bold new path in figuring out the speed bumps that came with the 2020 pandemic.
Earlier this year, they managed to complete the annual L2L 100km walk to raise funds for the Butterfly Centre in Stanford just in time before South Africa went into lockdown in March. The L2L ladies soon came up with a new plan to formalise their monthly practice walks, try out new routes, and explore the possibility of opening the practice walks to more than just those who have registered as official walkers for 2021. They also decided to use practice walks to generate funds for all the local charities who applied to receive funds from the official L2L 2021 Walk but were unsuccessful.
Funds from the main walk in 2021 will be donated to Hermanus Child and Family Services and to Overstrand Hospice. All funds raised at practice walks are divided by the other charity applicants ensuring far wider support than in any previous year of Lighthouse 2 Lighthouse.
The L2L committee approached Grootbos Foundation (one of the unsuccessful applicants) to discuss whether Practice Walk 2 could take place on Sunday 15 November along the slopes and valleys surrounding Grootbos Private Nature Reserve outside Gansbaai.
“The route was challenging because of the nature of the single footpath route through the fynbos, and the ascents and descents through forests, kloofs and waterfalls,” explains Phil Murray, fundraising and donor relations officer for Grootbos Foundation. “Grootbos Foundation, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, Fynbos Trail and Flower Valley Conservation Trust leapt at the opportunity to host this walking route and let people experience first-hand, the value of conservation and the impact it can have on communities.”
She added: “The trail is challenging, but it is not out of the reach of any age group. Comfortable hiking boots are essential as opposed to sandals or flip-flops. This walk reaches some of the most beautiful mountain crests from which panoramic views will take your breath quite away.”
Murray says she is excited but also a bit nervous about participating in the L2L walk for the first time next year along with Grootbos Director, Julie Cheetham.
“Grootbos Foundation has been hugely impressed and always held L2L walk in the highest regard,” she said, “and what a wonderful meeting of the love of the great outdoors, the desire to uplift local communities through charities and the love of walking to make a difference! This is everything we stand for at Grootbos Foundation, so it makes perfect sense for us to jump in! Conservation, community upliftment and sport development in our own neighbourhood are the focus of all of our programmes.”
The foundation runs a variety of programmes with the shared goal of promoting conservation, providing free training, skills, education and entrepreneurship opportunities to unemployed adults in the region, and caring for vulnerable children through both fun and serious afternoon sports, life-skills, education and feeding schemes. “All our programmes are offered free of charge to benefit those who have so little, making use of existing schools, early childhood development centres, community sports spaces and community centres to bring programmes to people,” Murray explained.
Grootbos Foundation also worked with Overstrand Disaster Management Committee to provide Covid-19 relief in the form of large scale soup kitchens, home quarantine food parcels, provision of PPE, educational support to school and learners, and micro-enterprise support to struggling small businesses.
“Now more than ever, our communities need support so that they can participate in their own regrowth and resilience and help to rebuild our communities and local economy,” Murray stated. “We support and enact sustainable ideas that empower the most vulnerable in our communities to build responsible citizens.”
Grootbos Foundation works closely with Flower Valley, a non-profit organisation, which promotes community-based conservation. The 540 ha Flower Valley Farm boasts stunning fynbos, where visitors can come for day hikes or stay in the accommodation.
Flower Valley’s key work includes the control of alien invasive plant species. This creates employment for rural communities on the Agulhas Plain. “It is the leading agent that promotes the sustainable harvesting of wild fynbos and in providing focused research and capacity building for the wild fynbos bouquet industry in support of sustainable and ethical green economy,” explained Murray. “Over the last 21 years the Trust has been involved in providing Early Childhood Development support for children under the age of six years.
“Flower Valley Conservation Trust and Grootbos Foundation are partners and collaborators on a number of projects where there are similarities in the conservation and community work we do. Through these effective networks and trust we are able to make a meaningful difference. We are both neighbours, friends and members of the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy, and are really excited to be working with the L2L committee.”
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