Dreamcatcher Foundation Development: What do we do and why to we do it?
Dreamcatcher works in 21 communities geographically situated on most of the main travel routes across South Africa. In spite of living in stunning environments and 20 years after the political transformation of South Africa, our focus group, comprising predominantly (but not exclusively) women, children and youth, live in poverty. Political freedom has not made the dream of many struggling people, (and that of Nelson Mandela), of a better life), work and come true.
Dreamcatcher is serious about achieving results and giving content to the UN Millennium Development Goals ((http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/bkgd.shtml). As hands-on local economic -and community development organisation, we walk the talk and are committed to get things done. Our activities are guided by a “people-first ” ethos and a philosophy that sustainability is built into all projects we embark upon, from its inception. These criteria are the guiding principles upon which Dreamcatcher was founded over 2 decades ago and informs our outcomes based approach in terms of the following issues:
- That the communities comprising many diverse cultures are the custodians of the environment of South Africa and the future of the environment will be shaped by the quality of life as lived by the people living there
- Utilising tourism as a generator of opportunities, it is our responsibility to address the growing wealth gap between rich and poor in South Africa and the tourism source market countries and to address the barriers which inhibit growth of tourism entrepreneurs at local level
- We place a high level of ethical accountability to shape and spearhead development projects which provide practical solutions to a wide range of community needs
- We are not profit driven but people- and opportunity driven. All funds remaining after the entrepreneurs or project costs have been paid, are imploded back into our development projects
- We believe that the children and youth in the communities, impacted upon by the mothers and women in the community, are the leaders of tomorrow; that they will shape the future of the communities and the destiny of South Africa. We therefore actively pursue projects which enable the women, youth and children to lead themselves out the poverty trap
- In partnerships with – and in consultation with the communities and project partners who join us, Dreamcatcher accepts accountability to contribute and impact positively on future quality of life of the communities and environment
- We have the responsibility to practice authentic responsible, outcomes based solution focused initiatives and models which facilitate fair access to tourism business; community development and small business development opportunities
- We embark upon projects in a manner which addresses the impact of our activities on the environment and that of the community who live in it
What about tourism?
For the future of authentic community based experiences and sustainable business development opportunities, Dreamcatcher actively pursue activities which ensure that visitors to South Africa discover the “true” nature of South Africa and its people. Giving visitors freedom and an alternative from the shackles of “staged cultural and bus-window” experiences, Dreamcatcher draws on our extensive network throughout Southern Africa, to offer visitors the chance to “go truly local” and to include authentic lifestyle experiences as an integral (not tag-on) experience, into their travel plans. It is thus fair to say that Dreamcatcher’s approach is “changing lanes” to develop a new way of travelling in South Africa by creatively replacing outdated “sight see” perceptions with “life see” experiences of South Africa.
Responsible tourism must be truly responsible!
It is important for the traveller and investor concerned about the future of the communities situated on -or close to all the main tourist travel routes in South Africa, to consider taking time out, before they decide on a tour to South Africa, to do some research to familiarise themselves of what the impact of their tour, funding or project will have on the quality of life of the locals.
Prof. Harold Goodwin (www.haroldgoodwin.info), recently writes that ” Responsible Tourism is Irresponsible Tourism in many instances”. At Dreamcatcher it is clear: We do not sell poverty to increase wealth which still does not provide access and opportunities to GROW for the individuals and communities living in recurring socio-economic circumstances in the many tourist destinations of South Africa. In the words of Taleb Rifai – Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation (WTTO). “Tourism can change poverty in communities, one tourist at a time“.
Though job creation is critical, it is fair to say that Dreamcatcher does not focus on recruiting more servants at grass roots. Our key aim is rather to develop entrepreneurs who can join the ranks of the mainstream tourism – and peripheral business industry in South Africa. We help women and youth to transform themselves from servants into a service providers and local job creators where they live. This is the approach of Dreamcatcher in terms of sustainable, responsible tourism or volunteering.
Changing from a spectator, into a participator, visitors on a Dreamcatcher experience or volunteer visit, work or brainstorm side by side with us to contribute in their own special way. We facilitate involvement to experience first hand the significance of their patronage. As a team there is a common vision to work together either as a social engagement visitor or volunteer to support the Kamammas, kids and youth in our communities to secure their transformation from poverty to opportunity and hope.
It is important for the traveller and investor in tourism in South Africa, concerned about the future of the communities situated on -or close to all the main tourist travel routes; to consider taking time out, before they decide on a tour to South Africa, to do some research; ask questions and to familiarise themselves what the impact of their tour will have on the quality of life of the locals. In the words of Prof. Harold Goodwin (www.haroldgoodwin.info): ” Responsible Tourism is Irresponsible Tourism in many instances”. To us at Dreamcatcher it is clear: We do not sell poverty to increase wealth which still does not provide access and opportunities for the individuals and communities living in recurring socio-economic circumstances in the many tourist destinations of South Africa. We join the visitors to become our partners to develop communities and to make a real difference with their patronage. Exposure to the significance of their patronage and the vision and transformation in motion in the communities, from poverty to opportunity and hope with the Kamammas and Kids is what visitors experience.
The responsibility to research and the power to ask questions and to seek reliable answers on how much of their travel package is actually developing a new generation of tourism business entrepreneurs and how much local communities benefit in South Africa, remains that of the truly “responsible” visitor.
South Africa can no longer afford to fail in terms of that true, sustainable, responsible tourism and volunteering. Visitors to our incredible land should not miss out on authentic local encounters, knowing that they are building that “better life” in South Africa.
Read about out projects helping the communities of South Africa:
- A second chance at life – Rosie’s story
- Dreamcatcher Kids
- Environmental impact projects
- Harmony in diversity
- KickUp Kamammas – A health & wellness lifestyle empowerment project
- Leaders of tomorrow – Giving Dreamcatcher Kids a chance
- Paint-Up with Kamamma
- Research, Knowledge & Skills Exchange for Development
- Resource Needs, Schooling & Knowledge Transfer
- Special needs projects
- Tourism its Mine its Yours
- Training and skills transfer projects
- Waste – It’s mine, it’s yours
- Wasteland – Graced Land