Making it their business to give back
Samara Private Game Reserve, established in 1997 by Mark and Sarah Tompkins near Graaffreinet, is home to a passionate conservation undertaking.
Since 2010, through their Wildlife Volunteer Programme, Samara has developed a close relationship with Vuyani Save Haven, a Child and Youth Care Centre in Graaff-reinet for abused and severely neglected children.
The subsidy Vuyani receives from the Department of Social Development only covers about 40% of the actual running costs, and so Vuyani still depends heavily on support from the public and individuals to be able to meet all the needs of the children.
During the months of June, July and August, the Samara volunteer programme is open to the children of Vuyani, who get to visit Samara for environmental fun days where they learn about nature and conservation.
The volunteer group also spend time at Vuyani helping out with a variety of needs at the home.
Sarah Tompkins, the visionary of Samara Private Game Reserve, as well as her daughter, Isabelle, have been instrumental in helping the Vuyani children in many ways, including the volunteer programme. Guests at Samara are invited to be part of the Pack for a Purpose programme whereby Vuyani receives donations in kind, for example school stationery, games and clothing.
A further initiative is the annual Christmas party for Vuyani’s children and staff through the Friends of Samara initiative, where clothes and a present for each child is sponsored by generous donors.
Vuyani is a Xhosa word, meaning joy, and through the ongoing commitment of Sarah and Isabelle Tompkins and the volunteer programme of Samara Private Game Reserve, it is hoped that true joy can again be restored to the children of Vuyani.
More information on the various initiatives can be found on https:// www.samara.co.za/experience/ volunteer/ and http://www. packforapurpose.org/destinations/ africa/south-africa/samara-privategame-reserve
Kids participate in Spekboom planting at Samara.
A game drive on Youth day with Jan Dunn, leader of the 2018 Wildlife Volunteer Programme at Samara.