PR for People Monthly August 2017 - Page 28

James Fernie is one of those people who can say he has achieved what he set out to do. He would, however, disagree, as there are many more future plans in the making. His company Uthando (meaning love in Xhosa) has grown beyond expectations, proving that his vision for a need of such company was founded.

James started his career as a paralegal in London. After completing a traineeship with the European Commission Humanitarian Office in Brussels, he returned to Cape Town. He continued his legal profession, but decided to venture into hospitality. It is here that he realized “the potential of tourism to contribute in a meaningful and substantial way to community and charitable causes.”

Thus, Uthando was born. As a grassroots activist he saw the gap, so to speak: People in dire need of help, be it in education, guidance, financial aid, or all of the above. This can be addressed via responsible tourism, not merely a guided tour, as South Africans have a rich and cultured history to tell and amends to be made in future generations.

As a developing country the funds to do just that are lacking, making Uthando even more ingenious. You are taken to various projects that Uthando supports and works with. It is funded by an add-on service charge from the operator; this way they not only earn money for the projects, but get to keep up with them.

The interaction (for all involved) and subsequent growth is one of the most rewarding and empowering experiences. Uthando has grown from a one-man team (James) to two-man team (James and Xolani Maseko) with various projects, ranging from gardening to dancing for the children to working with the aged.

A traditional African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The Hout Bay Community takes this to heart; it’s evident in the various projects on hand for children as well as for a previously disadvantaged group. The Hout Bay Music Project (HMP) provides music development opportunities to disadvantaged children in the Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu community.

Indigenous music is innovatively combined with classical music and traditional dance. Proof of their success can be seen among some of their achievements such as performing for the G20 Summit and the “The Philanthropist” American Television Series.

The Jikeleza “Turn Around” dance project works as a community partner in Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu. They address a wide range of social issues, such as poverty, neglect, drugs, violence and HIV Aids. They offer creative dance, the African Drumming and Jika Marimba, being their pride and joy. This helps to keep the children off the streets, making them less likely to join a gang or be involved in crime and substance abuse.

Original T-Bag Design Company is also situated in Hout Bay. They make “Functional Art” out of recycled tea bags. Used tea bags are dried, emptied, ironed and painted. The result of miniature works of art are applied to variety of items like décor, wooden boxes or fabric. They are now not only employed, but have a sense of community, excitement and most of all love.

Uthando also works with The Betterchoice Youth Project based in Khayelitsha (Xhosa for new born) its focus to teach children Gumboot and Traditional style dance as well as being a homework club. This is to combat the influence of drugs, gang violence and alcohol abuse. They are giving children a BETTER

From Cape Town, South Africa

James & the Journey of Uthando

by Bernadette Erasmus