Jafuta Foundation: Preserving Community, Culture and Conservation

When carefully and considerately applied, ecotourism preserves and benefits the places where it operates. A genuine and successful ecotourism experience involves a real cultural exchange, benefitting both the clients and their hosts in terms of sharing moments of respectful and authentic interaction. Our ecotourism initiatives consider the issues of cultural voyeurism, commercialisation of rural communities and the negative mindset that can impact children and youths through entertaining visitors and receiving gifts and money in return.

Jafuta Foundation is a small non-profit organisation operating in the rural areas and National Parks around Victoria Falls, assisting villagers to respond in innovative ways to the challenges they face on a daily basis. Our four core areas are: Community, Culture, Education and Conservation/Wildlife. This year we have enjoyed hosting a variety of groups, including students, families, film crews and academic researchers.

With a focus on preserving and promoting heritage, Jafuta Foundation welcomes the opportunity to engage with people culturally, providing travellers with a wider context for their visit to Zimbabwe. We frequently have the benefit of them volunteering their time, skills or ideas, resulting in great moments of real exchange. Based on recurrent requests, we have developed something of a “Jafuta Day”, which can be tailor-made to suit the clients’ interests, but generally combines a visit to a rural homestead, an interactive experience at Elephants’ Walk Artists and Shopping Village with a tour of the Jafuta Heritage Centre as well as meeting the artisans of the Ruoko Artists Platform and the silver-making studio.

Local art on display © Jafuta Foundation

Volunteers can work with the Girls’ Dignity project, training girls from rural high schools to make their own reusable feminine personal hygiene products, using top quality material funded by a grant and purchased by Jafuta Foundation. Our volunteers help cut and prepare the fabrics before taking the products to the schools to work with the students.

The Girls Dignity Project hard at work © Jafuta Foundation

We have three main initiatives that involve visitors interacting with communities in a holistic, cultural and environmental manner.

The free walk-in Heritage Centre at Elephants’ Walk is a small private museum showcasing the history, customs and artefacts of the different ethnic groups living in the area through beautiful displays, archival materials and the story-telling abilities of its curator. The film/writing crew behind the graphic novel Kariba had a particular interest in Tonga culture, so we introduced them to a Tonga rainmaker. We approached historians for old photographs and archival footage of building the dam and took them into the Batoka Gorge. A visit was arranged for an interested group of travellers to visit the rural home of an ironsmith whose forge and techniques have not changed since the Iron Age: he produces the most beautiful and effective tools to be found anywhere in the world.

Entrance to the Heritage Centre at Elephants’ Walk © Jafuta Foundation

A visit to Umuzi Homestead is an enlightening and engaging experience. The initiative of Lovemore Ncube and Ma Sibanda, with whom we work closely on our community projects, visitors are welcomed to their rural home and learn what life is like in the village. They try their hand at typical activities, including food preparation, traditional building, herding cattle etc. While this is an entrepreneurial activity that earns both a livelihood, they are voluntary leaders within the community for developmental projects, including BioGas, health and sanitation, so are best placed to share the reality of life lived by the majority of Zimbabweans.

The use of BioGas in rural homesteads is an effective way of reducing deforestation and improving the use of clean green energy to help our planet. BioGas lowers the risk of eye and lung infections caused from woodsmoke in enclosed spaces by generating clean, green energy for cooking. With little input – the manure of one healthy cow - a rural family can create enough green energy to cover their cooking needs without cutting down trees. Jafuta Foundation hosts a number of “BioGas Safaris” every year, where a philanthropic family not only donates the BioGas Unit but joins us on a day at the homestead of the beneficiaries, installing the unit.

The following is a testimony from a family who recently installed a BioGas system. They clearly explain how well the system works:
"In a rural village outside Victoria Falls we had the incredible opportunity to work alongside local residents to install a BioGas converter for a very deserving (and welcoming) family homestead.  BioGas is a natural by-product of cow manure.  With one healthy cow and a limited amount of water, enough BioGas can be produced to sustain a family of up to eight people.  In just one day of work, we assembled and installed the ‘bio-digester unit’ that was then connected to a simple gas stove (built by Butler and Mason) for the family’s cooking hut.  Next, the real fun began… stirring and pouring the 200+/- litres of “slurry” (cow dung + water mix) into the BioDigester bag.  Rest assured that this was a messy and stinky job that all five of us shared in equal measure…

“Eighty percent of Sub-Saharan Africa is dependent on wood for fuel and this dependency is a leading cause of deforestation.  As forests disappear, women and children walk long distances to gather wood for their families.  Additionally, wood fuel is smoky and the leading cause of respiratory disease in rural areas. Women and children are most at risk.
Thank you to Dani, Phillip and the Jafuta Foundation for guiding us through this memorable project."

The Ball family on a BioGas Safari installation in July 2019 © Jafuta Foundation


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