Covid19 Pandemic – Leaders in Accountability

What at this junction of the Covid19 Pandemic affecting South African and global communities has been achieved to realise the goals of the founding memorandum of intent since the founding of Dreamcatcher to date?

Dreamcatcher Founder and Executive Programmes Leader, Anthea Rossouw, has always been a great believer in the power of team effort. Wearing two hats, that of Programme Leader: Sustainable Socio-Economic & Environmental Development Projects and as a Community – and Eco-System Stakeholder Engagement Specialist she has been working tirelessly with the support of her able and committed Management Board for 3 decades to facilitate accountability to enable diversity, inclusivity and address issues standing in the way of sustainable economic futures and harmonius social cohesion in South Africa.

Has Dreamcatcher measured up its intentions and funding obligations?

Visionary Leadership

South Africa has a youth unemployment rate of 53% with particular high levels amongst women resulting in recurring poverty. As appointed to the post-apartheid executive marketing board of the National ‘South African Tourism’ she had a clear vision of benefits that a community-based tourism approach could contribute to the economic and social transformation of South Africa. This vision received little attention from the main-stream tourism sector whom Anthea says in jest: “listened politely, then politely ignored us”. In response Anthea, viewing inclusive, fair access to tourism enterprise, as an imperative for the greater good of sustainable tourism futures in South Africa, set up Dreamcatcher to develop inclusive, fair access to tourism enterprise opportunities for historically disadvantaged communities. Over past 25 years the focus has been on enterprise, community development, and environmental protection.

So what’s up now? The Africa Tourism Leadership Awards, recognises the game-changers in the tourism sector. The awards focus on individuals and groups’ initiatives being pursued across the sector. Among the night’s big winners at the conference (Hybrid and physical attendance) held at the Kigali Convention Centre, Kigali, Rwanda, Anthea Rossouw, Founder of Dreamcatcher South Africa, was awarded the ‘Woman in Tourism Leadership’ award.

Says Marina Novelli, Professor of Tourism and International Development, University of Brighton UK

‘The impacts of Dreamcatcher’s and its founders’ work are multifaceted and many. They span across the environmental, social and economic domains. Their model of responsible and sustainable tourism has had extremely positive and powerful life changing social and economic implications for the communities involved at grass root level and have provided many guests with unique experiences. Dreamcatcher
is without doubt an example of how sustainable community based tourism should be developed and run to innovate, transition, contribute to environmental stewardship and intracultural encounters to grow tourism and thus grow livelihoods. The work of Dreamcatcher South Africa to innovate tourism, is an inspiration for generations to come’.
Marina Novelli (PhD)
Professor of Tourism and International Development
Academic Lead for ‘Responsible Futures’ – University of Brighton’s UK Research and Enterprise. Affiliate Member of UNTWO

Sustainability embedded

Dreamcatcher supports the creation of new tourism experiences e.g. ‘Homestays Cookup with Kamamma’. Sustainability is core throughout training and ongoing mentoring. E.g: enterprises are trained on the impacts of waste, interventions to reduce and reuse waste; providing composting units, training on how to use them to grow own food; provided with solar geysers; supporting community well-being. The philosophy is enterprises ‘give back’ through community projects including environmental stewardship with local youth and support to vulnerable citizens. Their approach to sustainable tourism enterprise has been recognised by the South African Department of Education.

So whats up now? Says Kelly Cerialo, Director of Paul Smith’s College’s Global Center for Rural Communities, Canada
“When we teach the concept of sustainable tourism in the classroom, we often question – ‘Is tourism truly sustainable?’ And, we struggle to find strong examples of sustainable tourism experiences that consider the social, economic, and environmental impacts of tourism on the host community. We were extremely fortunate to find Dreamcatcher in South Africa as a prime example of leadership in sustainable tourism. Dreamcatcher has changed the way that our students think about the planning, implementation, and growth of sustainable tourism and its application in community-based tourism experiences. Dreamcatcher empowers its community members, supports the local economy, and introduces an innovative solution to handle waste management in Melkhoutfontein and sensitively recognising cultural engagement as key to sustainable tourism. This model of sustainable tourism can and should be replicated worldwide – it has the power to shift traditional tourism dynamics between host community and visitor.”
– Assistant Professor Kelly Cerialo, Paul Smith’s College, Director of Paul Smith’s College’s Global Center for Rural Communities

Social Impact

Our Dreamcatcher nationally trained and accredited 1st Aid response team, trained a number of years ago, support the local community enterprises, families and the vulnerable in their communities as well as visiting tourists, in terms of wellness and emergency response. Since March lockdown Dreamcatcher has been supporting the Dreamcatcher Kamamma and Brothers enterprises and continues to do so. An example of this is Melkhoutfontein at the ‘Wasteland – Graced Land’ community based experience. The team mobilised and is working with the local authority Civic Response Team, to render community support in terms of access to – address and distribution of balanced meals support, mentoring and PPE. Dreamcatchers’ sustainability support drive is assisting to maintain health, wellness and access to p ower, phone data, and power, health and wellness in Dreamcatcher communities, specifically to counter -and render support specifically related to Covid19 Pandemic.

Sustainable poverty relief projects to level up the socio-economic playing field and plight of marginalised communities in post-Apartheid South Africa to address the issues of social justice, inclusivity, equality, improved livelihoods and harmonious co-existence with specific focus on women and youth and sensitive and dedicated investment in our human capital, is critical for sustainable futures in South Africa.

So whats up now? Says Deloris Wewers, retired Director of Social Services
‘During my tenure as Assistant Manager and later Deputy Director (1992-2007) in capacity as District Manager in the Garden Route District, I came across Anthea Rossouw founder of Dreamcatcher a hospitality and tourism service provider with specific passion and focus to empower woman and youth to develop into tourism enterprises. Anthea portrayed the unique capacity to identify entrepreneurial traits in those who had never been enterprises to develop into entrepreneurship. She also furthermore displayed vision to develop the tourism enterprises into supportive networks, complimenting each other and this means to cover not only the usual tourism services we know, but to offer rewarding community based experiences as she reached into the heart of humanity: into the communities. I was introduced me to the unique names imagineered like CookUp and Homestays with Kamamma tourism services which I understand are today legally registered brands. 20 years later, and myself now retired as Director of Social Services Garden Route, it is heartening to know that one of her trained tour guides, has evolved into a transfer service with a team of guides who take tours around and Homestays -and CookUp with Kamammas are still in business.

Besides unique purposed training, which included service and standard but so much more than the usual training, Anthea empowered and motivated small renovations to homes which made a big, practical difference to services tourists. Anthea even took the tourism enterprises to showcase their experiences to the Tourism Indaba in Durban.

Anthea targets individuals living in vulnerable poverty stricken areas, yet situated close to main tourism routes, to open new doors and to project their communities into tourism. Tourism is something from which they were excluded from and never had in their lives. In this process she has created, the enterprises contribute to the tourism economy directly as tourists spend in the towns where they stay over, and at a 3rd economy level which still needs more exploration. As a person Anthea displays determination, commitment and passion to develop enterprise opportunities and to ensure, through mentoring programmes purposed to their and industry needs, that they are linked to a network to sustain their development. Being a ‘grassroots peoples’ person, with a mindset of accessibility and inclusivity, she has the unique ability to reach out to ordinary people who would never have had the opportunity to develop and as an entrepreneur to enter formal labour and the tourism industry to sustain their income.

Under the guidance and leadership, at times facing many challenges, yet continuing to ‘walk the talking’ in poverty relief and with the passion and commitment, the impact and intervention of Dreamcatcher Anthea or ‘Die Droomvanger’, (so called in communities, is measurable through the degree of social and economic development opportunities and the level of confidence and independence she has empowered. With quality of life which has improved measurably, the Dreamcatcher empowered enterprises are multiplying their own resources and skills where they live”.
Deloris Wewers, retired Director of Social Services
Garden Route Region, South Africa

Conservation, Environment + Waste

Impacting on community health, socio economic growth and contributing climate change: The waste management system in South Africa has historically been poor and has blighted the communities, inhibiting the development of a pristine environment and thus to develop into a sustainable visitor destination and place to live.

So whats up now? Says Dr Ryan Woodard – United Kingdom
“Township communities where Dreamcatcher engages and collaborates, have historically been impacted by waste. E.g. in Melkhoutfontein waste been burned in the open impacting on the environment and public health. In collaboration with the community, Dreamcatcher developed the first recycling scheme in the community and is collaborating with the Hessequa Local Authority to provide input into innovate waste strategies to reduce the impact of waste in the community and reduce transfers of waste to the landfill site 45 kms., away.

Today 26 new entrepreneurs have been created collecting the recycling, designing and making products and crafts to be sold into the tourism value chain including tourists visiting the community. The craft workshop runs solely off solar. Waste, historically a problem, is now being utilised as a resource improving the environment and community and Dreamcatcher is collaborating optimally with the local ecosystem of which includes the Hessequa Local Authority to provide input into community responsive waste and environmental management plans.

Melkhoutfontein is situated on the Garden Route, and South Africa is home to 11% of the world’s indigenous plants. However, the alien species, Acacia cyclops, was introduced to stabilise dunes in the beach resorts close to Melkhoutfontein. A declared invasive species, Acacia cyclops spread throughout the area decimating indigenous natural habitat. Dreamcatcher spearheaded the remediation of a former dumpsite covered with Acacia cyclops invader, into a botanical garden where indigenous species are re-establishing and is becoming a popular destination for international visitors. It is now included into the UN declared Gouritz Biosphere. Acacia wood is now being used by enterprises to make crafts and items of practical user for the local and tourism market”.

Dr Ryan Woodard
Senior Research Fellow
MSc Environmental Assessment and Management Course Leader
School of Environment & Technology , University of Brighton, UK

Cultural Heritage and Community Encounters

Core to Dreamcatcher’s work is reawakening the lost cultural heritage. The people of Melkhoutfontein are descendants of the ancient Khoekhoen, the first nation who documented their life through rock art. The legacy and contribution of the Khoekhoen is still largely absent in school curriculum. Dreamcatcher innovated a community mural painting project where houses are painted in designs depicting the ancient cultural heritage. Artists work with the community including local youth on designs and painting. The vibrant murals are attracting international and local tourists proudly guided by accredited tour guides with community members sharing their stories.

So whats up now? Says Karla Cordero – United States of America
“As an organization that encourages it’s communities to stand up against their challenges rather than standing down to them, Dreamcatcher embodies perseverance and determination in everything they say and do. I saw that self-drive and motivation in the Melkhoutfontein community, especially the few nights I stayed with my Homestay Kamamma. She shared with me her story of how she was inspired to go from working for an employer to being self-employed, running her own Homestay business, and “getting to be my own boss.” When my Homestay Kamamma told me about this milestone in her life, she beamed with pride.

It’s a unique opportunity to not just visit with a local South African family, but to stay with them in their home, to hear and share stories and delve into the local culture over a cup of coffee in the morning. Walking around the community, engaging the friendly locals as we go by as they proudly stand in front of their beautiful houses adorned with life-size murals sharing their ancient heritage. It is here where visitors can join the locals and help paint back their history into the lives of today and the future generations. We all may be born into different families in different countries, but we all have dreams and aspirations, experiences that shape who we become, and the inner desire to be the best version of ourselves. Dreamcatcher lives and breathes its mission of ‘walking the talking’ and if necessary of, “disrupting barriers” in an effort to grow understanding across cultures and identities, and to cultivate a sustainable love for the world around us, made possible through truly authentic tourism encounters.
Karla Cordero –
Chief Executive Officer, Utopia Foundation, Michican USA

From servant to service provider shares her journey

Sustainable poverty relief projects to level up the socio-economic playing field and plight of marginalised communities in post-Apartheid South Africa to address the issues empowering women and youth to empower better tomorrows is critical.

So whats up now? Edwina Lietz, Melkhoutfontein South Africa
‘I used to work at a guest house and it was always my passion to work in an environment where I can engage with people. Dreamcatcher Anthea offered me the opportunity to train in tourism and hospitality industry. My training along the way with Dreamcatcher also included being mindful of the environment and our impact on the environment and how to identify and manage waste as a resource. I received high-level training in waste and environmental management from Dr Ryan Woodard from the UK, specially recruited by Dreamcatcher to come over and teach our team of Kamammas and recyclers. So I learned how to run my Homestay but I also learned that waste, which includes tourism waste has significant impacts on health and the environment yet it is always going to be with us, but how we view and manage it is important.

When I started my Homestay with Kamamma I did not have money to develop. my Homestay, but I was aware of mountains of building and other waste at the dumpsite close to Melkhoutfontein. My husband and myself collected dumped building waste and we erected our Homestay totally from waste we reused from the dumpsite. Every Homestay is unique, but I learned what is universal, is to share our services from one human to another. In that I learned, we are universal. The mentoring I receive is market related as also the standards and service levels I have set in place at my Homestay.

Today I am a proud owner of a unique Homestay with Kamamma, receiving guests from all over the world who come to experience our unique tourism experience called ‘Wasteland – Graced Land’. I am no longer a servant. I feel liberated. I am the captain of my Homestay and Recycling Kamamma ship. It puts food on my table, gives me dignity and fills me with pride. As our entrepreneurs are bound together in a network of support, as Dreamcatchers we as Kamammas are encouraged to give back and contribute in our own communities. To do our share to make our community and world a better place”.