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Pride ‘n Purpose: the scheme which supports Ulusaba’s local communities to sustain themselves

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One night gathered around a campfire burning at the Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa, Karl Langdon and his friend Gregg Campbell became engaged in a passionate philosophical discussion. It is a scene likely to resonate with many travellers, when orange flames combined with whisky draw out people’s wildest ideas and innermost ambitions.

For Karl and Gregg, it started with a basic human desire to help others.

As General Manager at Ulusaba Game Reserve, one of Virgin Limited Edition’s seven unique luxury retreats personally selected by Sir Richard Branson, Karl came to recognise the importance of protecting and enhancing not just the flora and fauna, but the lives of local people too.

Ulusaba Private Game Reserve. Image credit: Virgin Limited Edition

Founded on principals of sustainability, education, and entrepreneurship, Pride ‘n Purpose is committed to helping the disadvantaged members of the communities adjacent to the Sabi Sand Reserve by helping people to help themselves.

“We are not ‘giving out’ but ‘giving back’ and supporting people in a sustainable way”, says Karl.

Born and raised in the Bush, Karl witnessed first-hand the plight of people on the other side of the fence line who face daily challenges such as accessing safe water and good education. With guests at Ulusaba Game Reserve eager and able to make a difference, Pride ‘n Purpose was launched in 2003 to encourage guests to engage directly with the local communities. Now, 95% of guests interact with local people through Pride ‘n Purpose’s projects, for instance, by planting fruit or indigenous trees or helping with infrastructure projects.

Backed by the British bigshot and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, the first steps began with smaller projects such as creating a vegetable garden for a local family of seven children whose mother sadly passed away from HIV. Something that the children could personally nurture to feed the family, the vegetable garden encapsulates Pride ‘n Purpose’s goal to support people in a sustainable way.

“We truly believe that helping people to help themselves creates a self-sustaining model that can go on to help the wider community,” says Karl.

Another project that stands out in Karl’s memory is with a young man named Cornelius who ran a small beading business making bracelets for his friends. Pride ‘n Purpose assisted Cornelius to buy beads and tools with which he could create beautiful pens, keyrings, and beaded animals. As his business grew in size, Cornelius opened shops around the region and now runs a fully sustainable and successful business which feeds back into the local area by creating opportunities for employment and keeping local culture alive.

Ulusaba Private Game Reserve. Image credit: Virgin Limited Edition

“We place a big emphasis on educating young people about the opportunities that are available to them on their doorstep,” Karl explains.

“Through mentoring and teaching, we can show them that they don’t necessarily have to move away from their home to forge a successful career.”

Many of the guests at Ulusaba Private Game Reserve come from business backgrounds, so have become an integral part of the scheme by actively sharing their entrepreneurial knowledge and expertise.

However, Pride ‘n Purpose is not just about empowering young people to become entrepreneurs, but Karl explains that, as per its name, it also works to help instil pride in the local heritage through creating feelings of dignity and the ability to thrive. The scheme works with local choirs and Shanghaan dance groups.

Since the one fateful night around the campfire, Pride ‘n Purpose has built 13 schools, six homes for vulnerable and orphaned children, and now shifts its focus towards developing the Dumphries Digital Learning Centre (DDLC) and Ku-Humelela to support adult and senior learning and development. Due to open in late 2019, the Ku-Humelela centre will recreate an African market, complete with space for craftmakers to create and sell, a vegetable garden, and classroom. The centre will bring everyone together to share stories, news, and trade while encouraging community visits.

“One thing is for sure, there was never a plan for Pride ‘n Purpose”, Karl says. “If you told me that night around the fire what our idea would become, I would have laughed.”

Now, Karl hopes that other non-profit organisations will follow in the footsteps of Pride ‘n Purpose to help people help themselves.

Pride ‘n Purpose’s running costs are fully covered by Virgin Unite and Virgin Limited Edition, so all proceeds and funds raised go directly to the local communities.

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