Building community through wilderness
Many of the communities on the borders of Imfolozi were forcibly removed to make way for the reserve. The reserve was fenced off, and became a place for tourists, for white people, for the wealthy, offering little to those who had sacrificed their homes with no compensation.
There are some efforts to change this, and to find ways to use the reserve to benefit local communities by sharing profits and offering employment. This is important, but the reserve also has much to offer the community spiritually. Few local community members can afford to visit the reserve. This lack of access to the wilderness, and our society's emphasis on material wealth and consumerism, has led to many young people forgetting ancestral wisdom about the importance of nature for sustaining individuals and communities. They find themselves strangers in their own lives, unsure of their status and value.
Connecting with the abiding rhythms of the earth through a guided wilderness trail will give young adults a unique opportunity to explore their authentic identity. This project can bring hope, spiritual richness and environmental knowledge to young adults facing issues of poverty, drug abuse and unemployment. It can help to build a community better able to nurture itself, and more equipped and motivated to defend and nurture the wilderness on its doorstep.
Ubizo Lwemvelo is a joint initiative between Umkhiwane Ecotours and Intokozo Youth Community Development