An important part of the training is the environmental aspect where much attention is given to the botany of local flora, and especially to the identification of plants with healing properties. A project is undertaken by each group to benefit and enhance the attractions at !Khwa ttu and at the same time the project serves as model that can be replicated in the home community for the same reason.
Relevant hospitality skills programmes such as Table Attendant may be added to the main focus. Value adding external workshops in Rock Art, First Aid, HIV & AIDS, Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Rights are arranged while lessons in computing, language, life skills and San issues provide further grounding. Excursions are arranged for added interest.
The trainee groups are pleased to mix and learn from San of other groups and are gladly welcomed by the !Khwa ttu permanent staff, who facilitate and evaluate their participation in the various departments.
On-the-job experiential learning takes place over weekends, when trainees have the opportunity to put into practice their newly acquired knowledge and practice their skills. These practical skills they acquire at reception, in the kitchen and restaurant, in the garden, on the trails, at maintenance, in housekeeping, and most importantly, on the tours.
Trainees react positively to the nurturing environment where all activities revolve around them. In the safe environment they experience a different way of life where they are stimulated to learn about their own culture and build on proud traditional skills such as tracking and where they acquire an intimate knowledge of the fauna and flora they encounter.
Trainees become more broadly marketable upon achieving an array of skills besides that of tourist guiding – they receive certificates for room and/or table and/or bar attendant positions and/or also in customer relations (SA Host).
For the target group the achieved project effects are life-changing. On a practical level trainees improve their English communication skills and gain all-round self-confidence in learning to deal with guests and present to customers. They learn about the Fynbos biome, nature and cultural guiding, complete various hospitality skills programmes, learn to operate in pairs, teams and as a group. General life skills aid them to understand HIV/AIDS and health issues. Importantly trainees rediscover their own culture when they meet with other San groups of whose existence they were unaware. They delight in discovering fresh phrases and turns of expressions in their common language that presents regional variations. They discover a common identity and purpose and are ignited to share this further. They often say: “This I want to share back home. . .” Most of all hope springs to achieve a relevant career, to become an entrepreneur, to become a role model or well informed leader.
The sustainability of the changes achieved in the target group will depend on how soon upon completion of the programme trainees manage to secure employment where they are able to implement and build on their knowledge. Should they return to their communities and remain idle for more than half a year, chances are that the impact and momentum of the training intervention might be lost.
From today’s perspective the project is more relevant than ever, and gaining increasing credibility as a leading provider of quality education to young San.