Our reservations administrators, consultants and team leaders come from all walks of life with varying degrees of readiness for a career in reservations but ultimately share one common goal: a passion for creating the holiday of a lifetime in Botswana. Our business is built on our relationships with our agents and our suppliers. This is no different in the relationship between team leader and her teams (yes, all our Reservations Managers are women) and the consultant and his/her administrator/s where the nurturing of potential into expertise is taken very seriously.
And so it should be, as the administrator of today, fresh out of university, is our consultant of tomorrow. This is not only about growing tourism in Botswana, but about our success and sustainability as a business. Developing destination, supplier and consulting expertise is done through a tried and tested model of formal training, one on one on the job training and rigorous feedback processes.
Formal training includes induction for the newbies (as we call them) on our processes and technology as well as ongoing destination and supplier training for the more experienced staff. This may include visiting local establishments on what we call educationals, designed to introduce our staff to the various properties they are selling, how these properties compare with each other, what properties suit which kind of clients as well as how to combine properties into an exciting itinerary. Our suppliers regularly pop in to keep staff up to date on developments. Most recently this included Bushways erecting tents in the office garden to give our newer staff a feel of the tents and amenities. Our consultants (as well as consultants in training) also participate in itinerary training where they are required to put an itinerary together to a specific scenario. Individual itineraries are critiqued by the group, exposing staff to different ways to think about an itinerary, seeing different combinations of properties, encouraging them to not only sell their tried and tested. All of this aims to achieve our vision of creating inspiring travel experiences for our agents and their clients. Our newest development has been the updating of our meet and greet training for our newbies. This training is designed to help staff develop the knowledge and skills to offer the critical ground handling services we extend to our travellers.
Beyond formal training, one on one job training together with ongoing feedback through regular desk checks and bi annual performance reviews ensure our staff get the necessary affirmation on where they are doing well and advice on where they can improve. This helps our staff prepare for promotion up the reservations ladder. All of our team leaders, who are home grown having been consultants at SD, have also received management training. Just over half of our consultants are Batswana who have been trained, developed and promoted via these learning and development strategies. Our newest crop of consultants, promoted in October 2022, are Lisa, DK and Kea S (the S is very important as we have three Kealebogas on the team). These Associate Consultants as we call them, are currently working closely with their team leaders in developing their consulting and destination expertise. In the last month, they have all started working with an administrator and are now engaging in supervisory training to support the new skill set required. This will prepare them for promotion to the next level of consultant namely, Intermediate Consultant. From there is upwards to Senior Consultant.
Structures and criteria for advancement are clearly articulated and transparent to staff allowing them to see the potential for growth and their career they have at Safari Destinations. Our HR Manager, Sarah likes to say “We don’t hire people for jobs at SD. We hire for careers’’.
Our support staff’s training and development is equally important as that of our res staff and skills training specific to their disciplines as well as supervisory and management training is also vital for this collective. Similar performance processes are followed.
Development is one of the core values of Safari Destinations and is a value that we believe needs to be in evidence, every day. Our vision is “Proudly local, dynamic and passionate, together we create inspiring travel experiences, enriching lives for all.’’ We believe our learning and development strategies at SD are a key contributor to achieving this vision.
For us at Safari Destinations we are striving and pushing through no matter how hard and bleak things may seem. We know that soon we will look back and pat ourselves on the back and say we’ve done well…
August was dedicated to the “Women In Tourism” who have brought us so much inspiration. As we saw women coming together being the matriarchs of our societies, taking the lead and being the magic that the world needs right now and giving us hope to work harder and to stay positive.
SD ladies never lurk behind… Carina and Lorraine have taken the reigns and together they are showing us their passion for travel. Not only are they fighting for Safari Destinations they are also fighting for the travel industry in our country. They are leading by example like many other Women In Travel, who are strong, resilient and BOLD.
True success is built on relationships. SD is proud to be the professional home of many strong women who show endless dedication, they never give up and they always keep their spirits alive:
Ursula (Zimbabwe Office) says: “Gosh, how things have changed! Looking back, I’m amazed at what we’ve achieved on every level, looking forward, I’m as uncertain as the next person. What I do know is that the Falls will continue to flow, and as long as it does and I have breath in my body, I’ll remain an advocate for all who wish to travel here. I’ve learnt a few things too… more patience for sure, to be kinder to myself and to actively seek the positive, no matter how small – over negative. I still need to work on that patience but I literally just can’t wait to welcome our first post-pandemic guests back!”
Andrea (Reservations Department) says: Strolling through European forests for a change is incredibly relaxing; I can just walk – without trying to figure out who broke the branch in a distance and will jump out from behind a bush any moment; I have learnt to appreciate these “low adrenalin” walks, where your eyes and mind can wander and wonder.
Julia (Marketing Department) says: “The last few months have been extraordinary in many forms, this has brought challenges, uncertainty, hope, all of which we are experiencing in one form or another. This has made me realise that we are more resilient than we ever imagined, I have learnt to be more patient and most of all I have learnt to be GRATEFUL! Grateful for the beautiful spaces we get to spend our free times in, Grateful for the loving family and friends that we have. Grateful for the what the future has ahead of us and much much more“
Tebby (Reservations Department) says: “Breath and repine less…to help with my sanity amidst this pandemic I started doing yoga with my baby boy. This has helped me replace stress with peace for my soul.”
Caroline (Marketing Department) says: “I have learned to do things that I wouldn’t normally do…I now do yoga and I have found peace, happiness and serenity on my yoga mat and cycling early in the morning. These two things have given me comfort and some emotional freedom”.
Sarah (HR department) says: “Family which includes our dogs and cats, have been an important part of remaining grounded and sane during corona madness. Our three sausage dogs love a walk along the riverbank. With the flood having reached our doors, this is a favourite activity for all concerned.”
Keneilwe (Reservations department) says: “During these unusual times , I have learnt to appreciate my family and friends, being in lockdown and not being able to see those closest to me made me appreciate the moments we spent together as it’s more apparent that nothing in life is guaranteed”.
Carina says: “I have always known that working in tourism means living my dream. Nothing else has fascinated me more than exploring new places, working with like-minded, open-minded and energizing people. In tourism women can achieve the most amazing things. Tourism is full of strong women that started with only an idea and with their passion, hard work and drive they achieved more than they would have ever imagined. These women are often too shy to be proud of their achievements. Especially in difficult times like these we should be more generous with ourselves and give us the credit we deserve for pulling through, for not giving up. Soon we will be looking back with a big smile on our face knowing that no matter how big the hurdle is we can overcome it and the challenge will have only made us STRONGER.
There is something our parents always told us that as kids we probably ignored: You don’t realise how important something is, until you lose it.
It is well known that tourism is a critical economic development option in many countries, bringing in much needed foreign revenue. In Botswana tourism is even more important where it has been one of Botswana’s key economic sectors, contributing greatly to government revenue and boosting important macro businesses.
The mighty Okavango Delta and nearby areas such as Maun, Moremi, Savuti and Chobe attract thousands of visitors annually from all over the world. Tourism supporting the communities in these areas through employment and community development and where the payment of government taxes has allowed for the provision of free schooling and health facilities.
Tourism is not just about the big destinations and properties, or the transport and flight companies. It is also about the intricate web of small businesses and entrepreneurs providing travel booking services, day trips, guiding or poling experiences as well as the many businesses that contribute indirectly to the guest experience from providing well-built and maintained safari vehicles to growing and delivering the ingredients for a delicious meal. There are the many community trusts with stakes in concessions with campsites or lodges, all part of Botswana’s strategy of sustainable tourism.
However, at this point in time, not only has the regular and very welcome support of the local travel industry stopped, but international support has also waned, as the Covid pandemic wreaks havoc with economies and peoples’ lives. Without any warning, suddenly there are no travellers and therefore no income impacting thousands of people who may have no work, no or reduced salaries and therefore no or limited means of supporting themselves or their families. This is worsened by the fact that there is no way of knowing when the industry will start to recover.
The Botswana people have a culture of coming together to resolve and face challenges head on, and this time is no different. In the midst of these chaotic and troubling times, we are proudly watching NGOs take the lead in communities to ensure that the most vulnerable are taken care of. Safari Destinations’ own community liaison co-ordinator, Tara Theron, has been working closely with these NGOs to see how we can support them, now and in the months to come. The Government, with the support of the private sector, is going all out to support and assist in a variety of ways. One of these important initiatives is to ensure that everyone has food. We are Proudly Batswana, and are thankful to see the great spirit of BOTHO being ever present. We will continue to bring you reports of what is happening on the ground.
One of the other sayings my parents would regularly say in my childhood when things were tough or something bad happened: Every cloud has a silver lining. While 2019 was a year of drought for Botswana with poor floods for the Okavango Delta, it was a good year for the landscape of the Delta allowing land usually under water to provide more grasslands for antelope herds, more grass means bigger herds. And now in 2020, we are seeing one of the best years yet for the beautiful Okavango Delta in terms of the spectacular flooding of the Delta. The way nature has rebounded teaches us valuable lessons in recovery and hope. We hope you will come and share this wilderness with us soon.
Please don’t cancel your dream-safari. Postpone. Help us protect Tourism, and by doing so, you are positively impacting thousands of lives.
Think back to 2010… Nicholas Sarkozy was president of France, Barack Obama was the president of the US, Ian Khama ruled Botswana and Angela Merkel was chancellor of Germany (OK, some things change faster than others!). The best movie at the Oscars was The Hurt Locker (we had totally forgotten about that one) and the top songs were by Ke$ha, Train and Lady Antebellum (who, who and WHO?). There was no Instagram until October of that year, Nxai Pan and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve had no permanent camps, Natural Selection didn’t exist, and who would have thought that AirBnB or Uber would grow so quickly?
Things were very different then and no more so than at Safari Destinations. Our little company was just four years old. Our office was above Mack Air opposite the airport and we had about 15 staff, half of which are still with us today. 2010 was the year when Lorraine and I started searching for a new home for our business, which we found only a couple of kilometres down the road. We bought our new premises in 2011 and thought we would never need all the space – hahaha, were we wrong.
21st century technology
In those long-gone days, most of us still worked on large desktop computers and used the small but efficient Nokia 5300 mobile phone. The fax machine still played a key role (remember how the ink faded right at someone’s phone number?!).
Kay, reservations manager, recalls the prehistoric days before the IT revolution, ‘We used to do everything ourselves: no personal administrators or fancy systems.’
Karen, reservation supervisor, who was the sixth employee to join in June 2008, agrees. ‘When I started, we were quoting manually using Excel and we were also doing all clients’ documentation manually, too, which used to take hours. Now, we have a clever system that works out costs and pulls documentation like invoices, vouchers and confirmations.’
The longest-standing staff at Safari Destinations agree that the biggest change the decade has brought is the colossal change in technology.
‘It really has changed my job in a big way,’ says Angela, Travel Experiences manager. ‘We used to carry a huge manual file with more than 60 Operations Reports when going to the airport to meet clients and, believe me, it was HUGE… Every time you received a call from a supplier, agent or client, you would have to find a little corner in the terminal and flip through the file as fast as you could in order to retrieve information. Today that big black folder has been replaced by a single tablet.
The Travel Experiences team
Angela touched on another big change over the decade: the development of a specialized and highly skilled Travel Experiences team that handles all client meet & greets at Maun International, smoothing arrivals and departures, handling lost luggage, welcoming clients and everything in between.
The Travel Experience team in 2020 makes a big difference to a client’s overall experience and are very appreciated by the rest of Safari Destinations. Kay and Karen remember having to drop consulting in order to race over to the airport to meet their clients, then race back again. ‘Back then, each consultant had to go and meet their own clients. There was no such thing as a “Travel Experiences” team. I must admit, I’m very happy we do now have a Travel Experience team!’, laughs Karen.
But no matter how sophisticated the technology became, Safari Destinations always put people first and the years between 2010 and 2020 saw some incredible projects for staff and the community.
As a mom of two girls herself, Karen appreciates Safari Destinations’ focus on boosting the next generation. ‘The support the company offers parents who have children is one of my biggest highlights of the past decade. Allowing our children to physically be on the office premises in a cottage (known as the Kiddies’ House), being supervised, whilst we can work is a massive benefit.’ This development was ahead of its time in Maun (and actually the rest of the world) and support for working parents is a growing and welcome global trend into 2020.
‘One of the biggest projects,’ says Lorraine, ‘is the vision to build a school and after-care facility for the Bana Ba Letsatsi (BBL) underprivileged children, a dream come true and a testament to the meaningful contribution Safari Destinations and our partners have made through tourism. The long-awaited building will be started in 2020.’
Other notable community-engagement projects include the start of the ‘Magic Bus’. This is a mini-bus that is sponsored by Safari Destinations and gives transport to especially the elderly of Maun, who may otherwise have to walk long distances to attend a clinic or go shopping.
To celebrate Botswana’s 50 years of independence in 2016, staff took part in the ‘500 Man Hours’ project that encouraged them to collectively give 500 hours of time to community projects. Today, Safari Destinations works closely with the Maun Animal Welfare Society (MAWS), Women Against Rape (WAR), Bana Ba Letsatsi (BBL) and many others. Many in the industry are also aware of SD’s work with Sekgoma Primary School, the bed night bank, Travel for Impact and various drives for donations of winter clothes, blankets and foodstuffs.
‘People’ also refers to how Safari Destinations finally started employing the so-called ‘stronger sex’ (ha! Us ladies change tyres, set up tents, dig game-drive vehicles out of sand AND give birth!). ‘The number of men employed is also a big change. In 2008, when I joined, employing men was not in the pipeline; however, once more women joined the company, there was a definite need for some male company!’, jokes Karen.
A maturing industry
As Safari Destinations grew from a toddler to a teenager over the decade, the broader safari industry also matured radically. Everyone agrees that far more players have entered the market, bringing fresh ideas and new people, and making every supplier raise their game to stay competitive. Often this had meant a new level of luxury: wine cellars, Wi-Fi, media rooms, gin bars, specialist spa treatments and à la carte dining were all virtually unknown in 2010.
As Angela says, ‘Suppliers have had to keep up with trending luxury décor in order to stay relevant while not destroying the authenticity of the camps or environment.’ ‘Yes,’ says Karen, ‘More properties are popping up, which means new players as well. The upgrading or rebuilding of a lot of properties to a very high-end level means some products are far more luxurious now than ever before.’
And keeping up with times means the decade also saw huge shifts in how it uses technology.
‘Smart-phone technology and websites being a go-to place for people to do research has been a big change. There is so much more access to information now,’ adds Karen.
‘Social media is a plus. It makes it so much easier for all concerned to get the message out there and also for clients to dream up and plan exotic holidays. Wildlife documentaries, viewed across the world, are also a plus but trying to get an 8-10-day trip to compare with a documentary that is five years in the making, is sometimes challenging, to say the least! Luckily, we rise to the challenge!’, laughs Kay.
‘The rise of social media over the past decade has changed many things,’ agrees Andrea. ‘In some ways, thanks to smart phones and social media, travel is less about the experience of being in moment now and more about what you can post to Instagram later… Every camp now needs a few corners that are highly Instagrammable. It’s the same with some sightings: if the light is low or branches are in the way, then there’s no point in stopping for a photo for some guests. Some clients want the exact experience they’ve seen on Instagram – unfortunately, the elephants aren’t trained to drink from the same swimming pool at the same time every single day!,’ she jokes.
‘Social media also allows for a lot of information, which is a good thing as Karen says, but sometimes that information is put out by amateurs who get things wrong. TripAdvisor is now a staple source of information for clients that they trust without knowing the full story of a stranger’s holiday – a good camp may get a bad review for something beyond their control. As professional consultants and experienced experts, knowing what product would suit which clients is a skill that cannot be replaced by a single TripAdvisor post.
As Kay says, ‘with more and more beautiful videos and photographs appearing online every day, we need to remember that they represent just one moment of a safari. A photographer chooses a single perfect image from a whole journey. For us, the fun and excitement remains in finding sightings, having great guides, smelling the wild sage, hearing the bulbuls call to each other and seeing remarkable landscapes – not in reducing it all to a few pixels on a screen.’
A decade of good laughs
While it’s never easy to grow a business from strength to strength, it is certainly made a lot easier if everyone has a good sense of humour. The Safari Destinations employees who’ve been around since 2010 and before have shared plenty of jokes and funny anecdotes over the years.
Kay groans at some of the crazy requests… ‘We’ve been asked to provide a double room with a sea view at the Victoria Falls Hotel! Once a client was disappointed because they couldn’t take a mokoro from Nxamaseri to Tsodilo Hills to see rhino!’ ‘Oh, that’s nothing,’ says Karen with a straight face. ‘I was once asked if the clients would be able to see unicorns on safari…’
Travel is a big and often stressful part of our jobs as we have to see as many properties as possible, make extensive notes, take photos (and videos now with our phones – unthought of in 2010!) and remember countless names, numbers and facts. But even educational travel has it’s funny side: Lorraine and I were once hosted at Baines’ Camp by Sanctuary Retreats.
‘They ran us a romantic bubble-bath following the afternoon activity that we had no choice but to use. So, we had fun taking a picture of the two of us fully dressed in the bath!’
We’re all looking forward to seeing what advancements, achievements, jokes and memories the next ten years will bring us!
Safari Destinations has grown from a simple idea in 2006 to a highly successful DMC. And while we sell exceptional safaris to see beautiful landscapes and breathtaking animals, the real backbone of the company is ensuring all staff receive in-depth training and continuous development, about our systems, products, destinations, suppliers, agents and source markets.
Day 1 at Safari Destinations …
We don’t believe in throwing staff in the deep end and leaving it up to them whether they sink or swim. That helps no-one: not us, not their team members, not our agents and definitely not our new staff member. We invest a lot of time and energy attracting quality people to Safari Destinations and we like to get return on that investment.
All administrators in the Reservations department work in an ‘apprenticeship’ arrangement with a more senior consultant or team leader, with ongoing feedback. Performance reviews are held every three months for the first six months of learning the ropes, and admins are coached in every aspect their role. These regular, formal check-ins every three months are company-wide for all new staff members, ensuring that everyone is reaching their potential as much as possible.
We keep our promises
Our business hinges on us being experts on all aspects of travelling to Botswana and Zimbabwe and creating inspiring travel experiences. We promise our agents that we are experts, and our in-depth training and development helps ensure we keep our promise. All staff regularly attend external supplier training about their products, brand and offerings. We have an in-house trainer specifically for destinations and further in-house supplier training plus lessons on sales, product and itineraries. These sessions are facilitated by in-house specialists, providing an opportunity for our seniors to hone their training and development skills through support from the HR department.
A chain of success
Once a senior administrator, who has successfully handled all behind-the-scenes aspects of complicated bookings, is ready to move onto becoming an associate consultant, she (or he!) will join a consultant-in-training programme. This equips them with the ability to understand and communicate with agents of different markets; create inspiring itineraries; and write persuasive and factual motivations. Once again, team leaders and senior consultants are on hand to guide, correct, educate and mentor.
We live it
A big part of our promise to be experts is to have first-hand knowledge of all sorts of safaris, from five stars, to mobiles, to self-drives. As many staff go out as much as possible on educationals – this is a vital part of developing a critical eye (when a lodge is due a soft refurb, for example); learning how to compare products (which will deliver better value even if it costs more?); and how to assess which product suits which type of traveller and market best.
Onward and upward
Everyone likes to grow and feel like their careers are moving forward. Because of this, we’ve created defined steps on the career ladder in the Reservations Department:
- Safari Assistant
- Senior Administrator
- Relief Administrator
- Associate Consultant
- Intermediate Consultant
- Senior Consultant
- Team Leader
This is carefully staggered to ensure that everyone who is promoted can cope with an increased workload, heightened responsibility and an increased need to supervise other staff, helping them in turn with their growth and development. We make sure no-one feels overwhelmed by their new role but rather excited and motivated!
In this way, Safari Destinations builds supervisory and management capacity, preparing those staff with potential, talent and the interest for promotion.
IT is it!
We’ve come a long way from manually creating booking packs. Today, all staff are fully computer literate and up-to-date with major industry programs like TourPlan and WETU. We also track our tasks, diaries and bulletins through Bitrix, and actively use Skype to keep in touch with our staff and agents around the world.
Our success stories
Obviously, since starting in 2006, we had many, many success stories and plenty of proud moments where our wobbly impala newbies are now super-fast adults outrunning all manner of deadlines, requests and crises! These are three recent success stories:
Roxanne After a number of years in camp management and running her own business with her husband, Roxanne joined Safari Destinations in May 2013 as an Intermediate Consultant. She was then promoted to Senior Consultant while also expanding her family with two of the most delightful little boys. Roxanne was promoted to Team Leader in September 2019, having participated in management training and being mentored by Storm Keen, previously a Team Leader. In just over six years, she has risen to the leadership cadre of SD!
Keba In February 2016, Keba started as our receptionist as this was the position open at the time. We soon realised that she had lots of potential and, with her degree in Tourism, she was moved into Reservations as an Administrator. She steadily advanced up the ranks and was soon appointed as an Associate Consultant. Keba worked closely with Storm in terms of her development. Once Keba reached the level of Relief Administrator, she has started to be involved in our consultant-in-training programme, which exposes admins to putting itineraries together as well as sales training. We have loved watching her growth and development as a professional and value the passion she brings to her work.
Resego Resego started off at SD in December 2015. She swiftly advanced through the Administrator ranks and was appointed as Associate Consultant in 2018. By 2019 she was an Intermediate Relief Consultant. Relief Consultants are vital as they support those consultants on maternity leave (we have a lot of SD babies, being a team that comprises 80% women), or who are sick or on annual leave. This position is an excellent development opportunity, giving Resego exposure to working with different agents and different markets. She is also our top scorer in our destination training exams, having scored no less than 90% on all her assessments!
Because of our carefully calibrated training and development programme we can not only deliver exemplary service to our agents but we also ensure that our team are empowered, challenged, rewarded and inspired to be the very best they can be.
Can you believe that it’s been on our roads for more than a year now? We thought we’d take a look at how Maun’s Tourist Funded Community Bus is benefiting our community.
“The Community Bus has been a ray of sunshine to our children brightening each day through its vibrant colours and comfort”. Taboka Rotsi.
Taboka is the Project Co-coordinator of Bana Ba Letsatsi (BBL) a care centre for orphaned and vulnerable children in Maun. BBL is one of the organisations benefitting from Maun’s unique Community Bus.
Last year – in celebration of Botswana’s 50th Anniversary – Safari Destinations and Travel for Impact (TFI) launched the Community Bus. For the past year it has been making a real difference in the lives of the less fortunate, whilst adding a splash of colour to Maun’s streets.
This unique collaboration between travellers to Botswana, private enterprise and charitable organisations is directly benefitting Maun’s disadvantaged communities.
So, what does the Community Bus do?
It’s a school bus, granny transporter, safety zone and life line that empowers our community all rolled into one. It solves the transportation challenges for not one but several charities by operating on a scheduled basis.
In the morning and afternoons, it does a round trip picking up and dropping off kids for Bana Ba Letsatsi. This coincides with the school run pick up and drop off for children staying at the Woman Against Rape (WAR) shelter for victims of gender based violence. Without the support of the bus most of these children simply wouldn’t attend school due to the distances involved, and those that did, would be late and tired from having to walk several kilometres.
After the morning school run, it’s time to collect and distribute daily food parcels for AGLOW to Maun’s impoverished elderly. Often our driver OB and AGLOW volunteer Lesang, are the only people some elderly see all day. So the bus becomes a lifeline, enabling AGLOW to daily monitor the elderly’s wellbeing, and equally importantly, it provides an opportunity for a chat and some friendship and companionship.
Between its scheduled duties, the bus is pressed into service to assist charitable organisations with ad-hoc requests. Perhaps it will be sent to the local butcher to collect a donation of meat for BBL. It may be dropping or collecting the elderly at the clinic. Transporting MAWS volunteers, collecting dog food donations, delivering donated clothes, collecting food parcels for flood relief…on and on the brightly coloured bus bustles about town!
The weekends are equally busy. It may be transporting the elderly to and from a lunch, transporting the hearing impaired on a photography course, taking children on a field trip or providing transport for a disability workshop.
With over 30,000km on the clock, the bus has delivered approximately 1305 meals, completed over 600 school runs and in the process, has indeed become a lifeline for the Community. These words, from one of the elderly that the bus visits, sums up the vision of the Community Bus. Softly spoken, and with a tremble in her voice, she whispers:
“Every day I am looking forward to seeing the bus coming. I like these people who don’t know me, but come and bring me food. I now sleep full every day.”
A video, The Years Pass By, highlights the work of the bus in the community.
The Community Bus was jointly sponsored by Safari Destinations, with the balance and ongoing expenses supported from The Safari Destinations / Travel for Impact 1US$ Bed Night Levy.
Safari Destinations is about family. It is the people that share our daily lives, and who we have grown to love and cherish. With our SD family, we create memories, share good times and help each other through the tough ones.
Some of those good times are celebrating the birth of the children to staff employed at Safari Destinations. At last count, it was 17 in total with another 2 on the way! Close to 50% of all our staff are parents. This is why lift clubs, meal arrangements, play-dates, “Hello Aunty Sarah” as well as kiddies’ laughter and tears are the order of our day.
We all know that total commitment describes our women here at SD. Many years ago when Lorraine and Andrea were still breastfeeding, critical Globetrack training had to take place. So, it all happened “behind the scenes” while the (male) trainer continued his training. He had strict instructions to “Don’t turnaround!”
While 80% of our staff are women, we believe that fathers are just as important as mothers. This is why our Dads get paternity leave with the birth of each child.
Our latest recruit is beautiful, little Paige, born to Senior Consultant, Mia Ives. Once Mia returns to work, as a first time mother, she will have the support and understanding of the Managing Directors, Carina and Lorraine as well as the many women here at SD who have walked the path of managing family and work.
Brrr!! Winter is upon us bringing harsh climatic conditions to less fortunate people who are not able to afford the basic necessities to keep warm. And so, it was once again time for Safari Destinations’ philanthropic community winter clothing drive. Utilising our strong community network we embarked on a project to gather as much clothing and blankets as possible within the Maun community. The staff of the company were then involved in distributing these items to organisations serving disadvantaged communities. Those communities identified as being in need (in coordination with Travel for Impact); were AGLOW, WAR, BBL, Basket of Love and Botsetse RDS. These organisations assist orphaned children, disadvantaged elders, disadvantaged teen mothers and their babies. The blankest and clothes were welcomed with open arms and lots of people will now be able to bear the cold a little better.
A big thank you to all those who played a part in the success of this mission; from all those businesses that had clothing boxes to collect the clothing, to those who donated clothing, to Safari Destinations who donated close to 50 blankets, to the company staff who gave their time in collecting, sorting, washing where necessary and then distributing the items. Besides staving off the winter chill, this little bit of kindness put a smile on the faces of many.
Back in June, we launched our 10FOR50 Campaign celebrating our 10th and Botswana’s 50th anniversaries. In celebration of this, one of our major goals was to donate a total of 500 Hours to Community Service.
When Lorraine initially announced this during a staff meeting there was a silent pause (cue cricket sounds…) as our staff body absorbed the enormity of the challenge. Now, anyone who has ever visited the SD offices knows that there is no such thing as silence here…
Fortunately, volunteering to assist the community is part of the culture at SD and the silence was actually attributable to a collective intake of breath before declaring Challenge Accepted – Game On!
The months have rolled by and looking back, we’re proud of what we’ve achieved: we’ve organised winter clothing drives, renovated the reception for a Woman’s Shelter, spent hours visiting and assisting the destitute elderly, helped out at charity events, hiked across the Makgadikgadi Pans for Charity and even participated in a Charity fashion Show. Phew!
And then came the final two big events of the year…
First up was organising a fun day at Bana Ba Letsatsi (BBL) – a day centre caring for orphaned and vulnerable kids. One thing you can say with certainly about SD staff is that we love kids. We love them more than delicious warm sticky magwinya’s (a savoury/sweet, deep fried donut-ish traditional food, which-we-know-we-shouldn’t-eat-but-Eish-they-are-delicious) we even love them more than we love planning that super awesome Delta Trip. We simply love kids.
It therefore goes without saying that a fun day for BBL would be well supported by our team.
Through the generosity of our agents, we support BBL under the TFI levy; we sponsor their full time Physco-Social Counsellor, contribute to food and running expenses and also provide free scheduled transport through the SD/TFI Community Bus. All of these are crucial support to BBL but they’re not “fun” for kids.
We decided on a Fun Day, purely because all kids need to have joy. They need to have a day where they can simply be kids and have fun!
We started off with face painting accompanied by a snack of magwinya’s (have we mentioned these before?) followed by a round of games and fun: egg and spoon races, sack races, cup cake decorating, jumping castle and the surprise all-time favourite – tug of war! The kids then attended a graduation ceremony while the SD “Safari Chefs” cracked on with a massive braai (barbeque). Everyone enjoyed a superb lunch and we ended the day by handing out party bags to all. What a super day
Something else you probably already know about SD is that we don’t do things in half measures. Yep, half measures are for sissies, we like to go all out! So as if planning and hosting a fun day for a 100 odd kids and guests was not enough, two weeks later we were back in action – this time assisting with an Annual Christmas Lunch for 400 Elderly members of our community.
AGLOW International Maun is another beneficiary from the TFI Bed Night Levy. They are an organisation committed to caring for the destitute elderly in Maun. We sponsor monthly food parcels as well as the volunteers who provide daily visits. Transport is also provided by the TFI/SD Community Bus.
We are long term sponsors of their Annual Christmas lunch for the elderly and this year a contingent of 10 SD volunteers descended into what can only be described as a food cooking marathon. Forget Masterchef, if you want to see a bunch of amateur chefs dropped in the deep end in a foreign kitchen then this is the event to watch! If chopping 2 sacks of cabbages for 4 hours sounds like fun, feel free to join us next year…
All jokes aside, Team SD did a super job, worked well together from prep to cooking and served a delicious feast to a very enthusiastic audience – not a scrap of food was left over.
And that’s how we achieved our community hours. Often chaotic, usually sweaty, sometimes smelling of cabbage but always with a sense of achievement and proud to be able to give back to our awesome community.
Thanks to the incredible support and commitment of our staff in under 6 months we have not only achieved our goal of 500 community hours, but we have exceeded it to achieve 563 community hours!
What’s our target for next year? We’ll have to wait and see.
I’m sure we are planning on going large…
…Do I hear crickets?
Ina lebe seromo. This is a Setswana proverb that means: you are your name. Your name is your destiny, it is who you become, and it is you. Batswana just like most if not all Africans, understand that your name defines your fate, it shapes your life. Thus for most Africans, names bear deep meanings. Within SD itself, there are Batswana who have been endowed with special names and these names and their origins are more than meets the eye.
This is a Kalanga name, meaning “Him/Her” (Keene in Setswana). I am the first male child who is considered the overall caretaker and leader in my parents’ absence. I bear responsibility to ensure that the family is held together. I am “The One” in my family, with them I am the King.
This means that ‘We are fortunate’ or ‘We are blessed. This is a joyful name, a baby girl, a gift to the family. ‘Re’ in Setswana means us…so the first part of my name signifies unity. Now we know why I am a team player and a people’s person. J “Sego” in Setswana means good fortune or luck. It means I am a blessing in other people’s lives. To me, every time someone calls my name: “Resego”, it is a validation and a salutation that “WE ARE BLESSED”!
Kalanga names are beautiful and Chawada is another Kalanga name that has a spiritual connection. Directly translated, Chawada means “What you Desire”. My parents are believers and after a long wait, hoping to have a son, I, Chawada was born instead. Giving thanks and submitting to God’s will, my parents then named me Chawada. In other words, they were submitted to God’s plan for what he desired for them. Chawada Ndzimu too tji bokela – Whatever you like for us Lord, we are grateful!
Helmie is a Swedish name meaning “Will, desire”. It originates from helmet (protection). It is a rare name to find in Africa, let alone Botswana. I am named after Boineelo‘s (the writer of this article) elder sister. My aunt who gave me this rare and beautiful name was very close friends with Boineelo’s sister in high school. It goes to show that we never know the impact that we have in people’s lives and how deep meaningful connections can be. So make sure your life impacts those around you in a positive way and maybe just maybe your legacy might live on in a name, just like it did for me!
Lindiwe is a deeply spiritual name, one that signifies, comfort, love and protection. Being the spiritual person that I am, God has shown me comfort in times of need, protection in times of trial and love at all times. I am protected, it is my fate. I live in constant peace, knowing that what and who I am, is greater than the trials I may face. When at peace, all is well. I can live my life with a joyful peaceful heart.