Field trip to the Transkei

“What we do is provide empowerment,” said Bulungula Lodge co-owner, Dave Martin, “Which instils a great deal more pride than simple employment.”

From 22 to 29 May, four members of the Sustainable Seas Trust team spent a week with their minds and hearts open to the people and promise that lie on the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast. With the goal of documenting the notable work done by various backpackers and established charities in the area, the team was exposed to a plethora of activity and development that surpassed all expectations.

With funding supplied by PetroSA, the team’s first stop was the Bulungula Lodge, which was established by Martin with the aim of ascertaining whether backpacker tourism could be used as an effective poverty-fighting tool. With heartfelt support from the community, the Bulungula Incubator was then established as the charitable off shoot from the backpackers.
Filmmakers Kyle Robinson and Martin Bleazard of Trust Sustainability Films spent all their waking hours documenting the various families and individuals who have benefited from the Incubator and Lodge, to a standard synonymous with the teams productions.

Education programme manager for the PetroSA project, Sirkka Tshiningayamwe and photographer and writer Desiree Schirlinger, chatted to a number of schools in the area about the prevalence of coastal education within the institutes. Des also managed to fit in a chat or two with learners on what they can do to look after our oceans.

Mdumbi Backpackers was the next stop on the weeklong trip, with a focus on their offshoot community development NGO, TransCape, established by the backpacker owners and resident doctors working in the local hospital. In a similar vein to the Bulungula Incubator, TransCape’s projects range from HIV/Aids education and outreach, micro financing projects, infrastructure development and a great deal more. “We have a number of projects organised and set up that the community desperately needs,” explained TransCape chairman, Luzuko Bango, “Unfortunately with the current lack of funding we’re struggling to maintain them.”

Hopefully with the added exposure provided by the Sustainable Seas Trust and the documentary currently in production, some public light will be shed on these organisations that, like SST, are working towards a stable and resourceful country.

Did You Know?

I hope for your help to explore and protect the wild ocean in ways that will restore the health and, in so doing, secure hope for humankind. Health to the ocean means health for us.

Sylvia Earle
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