A Different Kind Of Magic This Christmas

I’ve always felt incredibly lucky to live and work at Londolozi. I have met some unbelievable people from all over the world, seen sightings I never in my wildest dreams anticipated witnessing, made friends that have become family and been inspired over and over again by the people of Londolozi. One of the things I love most about Londolozi, is that the essence of luxury extends far beyond the confines of opulent camps and thrilling safari adventures. It weaves into the fabric of compassion, leaving an indelible mark on the lives of those in need. Being a part of the Londolozi Ripple Fund is truly a great privilege, which I feel very lucky to have been blessed with. And last week, I was reminded once again why I am so lucky to do what I do.

November was a time for giving, and December is one of celebration. I was lucky enough to witness both manifest themselves in the most remarkable way…

There exists a place touched by a different kind of magic. A magic that I struggle to find the words to adeptly describe.

Some of you may have read about the incredible story of one of our own – Eric Ubisi and his wife Merciful – ripple creators that just simply make this world a better place. Eric and Merciful have opened two orphanages in the community surrounding Londolozi, one of them being Hlayisekani, an orphanage that serves the needs of young differently-abled children and adults. It is not just a school and care facility for disabled children, it is a place teeming with joy, a sanctuary where the warmth of love and care eclipses the hardships facing its occupants, a place with a resilient spirit that has weathered storms, both literal and metaphorical.

Hlayisekani Disabled Orphanage

We were honoured to have attended the Christmas Party of Hlayisekani, a day that I will never forget!

Today, Hlayisekani cares for 24 young people, meeting needs that rural communities generally aren’t geared towards, such as wheelchair-friendly access. But life, much like the untamed wilderness at Londolozi, is unpredictable. A recent storm, fierce and unforgiving, swept through the region, tearing the roof off of the Hlayisekani centre, a heartbreaking loss for Eric and the volunteers who are now in search of ways to repair the damage caused by the storm. Inspired by our silent hero, Eric, whose quiet determination and tireless efforts have shaped the fabric of Hlayisekani, we jumped at the chance to get involved and help in any way we can.

Parts of the roof landed in a tree next to the school – tragic!

In the face of adversity, the spirit of resilience shone brighter than ever. Amidst the challenges, the Christmas Party at Hlayisekani was a testament to the enduring joy that springs forth from the hearts of the little legends I feel so privileged to have met. Laughter echoed through the air, music was all around me, and as I sat in this festive celebration, I truly felt the presence of magic. In the presence of tough circumstances, the true Christmas spirit emerged – the true magic of the season lies in the bonds forged when hearts unite for a common cause.

The festive gathering showcased the profound impact that a community can have when it chooses to stand together – Ubuntu.

We were able to donate 27 mattresses and clothing to Hlayisekani as our Christmas gift, and are in conversations with Eric about how to rebuild the damaged roof and building. This act is not merely charity, it is a ripple effect set in motion by your choice to stay at Londolozi.

Cry Sithole hands out mattresses & clothing donated by the Londolozi Ripple Fund

As Eric returns to Londolozi, his quiet smile carries with it the knowledge that his work, supported by the Londolozi Ripple Fund, is a beacon of hope for those who need it most. In time, we would love to help with the completion of the building and facilities, electric wheelchairs, handicapped bathrooms, and a functioning kitchen.

The main classroom at Hlayisekani

I have found myself feeling choked up at the kindness and never-ending depth of love that YOU, our global Londolozi family, show us and our various good work in the world projects. And for that, we cannot thank you enough.

It was truly inspiring seeing first-hand what Eric and Merciful and everyone involved with Hlayisekani are doing to better the lives of so many who need help. Hlayisekani, nestled in the embrace of the wild, just 3 hours from Londolozi, taught me a profound lesson: that true enchantment lies not in the grandeur or luxury, but in the indomitable spirit of its people. As we bid farewell, the echoes of shared dreams and unyielding determination linger, painting a portrait of a sanctuary where love, resilience, and a touch of that extraordinary magic redefine what beauty truly means.

Stay in the Ripple

To stay connected, or for more information, please reach out to us at ripple@londolozi.co.za. To follow regular updates on projects and donations as they unfold and follow work that has already been successfully completed follow us on Instagram @ripple_fund and visit our Londolozi Ripple Fund Impact Site.

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