The Covid-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on communities across Africa. Natural Justice has seen this first hand through the work we do in Southern, East and West Africa. These communities we stand behind are facing increased rights violations and a devastating future based on unemployment, hunger, violence against women and rising levels of inequality.
While organisations like Natural Justice and others are dealing with many uncertainties at the moment, earlier this year, we were honoured with the extraordinary donation of Earthrise Mountain Lodge, situated in the Maluti Mountains of the Free State Province of South Africa. It is a profound and, in many ways, deeply personal gift that will not only support our work, but allow us to continue to work with the Naledi and Franshoek communities situated in the valley.
As custodians of the Lodge, we have a dream for it to become a support base for civil society, activist and indigenous movements, and this dream is now under threat.
Earthrise Mountain Lodge is special in many ways: historically, it is situated next to “Sangoma Valley”, used as a training site for African healers. In its former iteration as Rustlers Valley, the farm was the site for the Rustlers Valley Easter Festival. Currently, as Earthrise Mountain Lodge, it supports the Naledi community, who are developing organic, small-scale farming systems and local enterprises. Members of the community also work at the Lodge and at the nearby creche, which was a community initiative but supported by Earthrise Trust and the lodge. It is a space used by activists from across the globe as a safe space for reflection and strategising.
The gift of Earthrise Mountain Lodge is a chance for Natural Justice to situate its work in an environment that can further its struggle. We will continue to provide the space for activists, movements & civil society organisations to convene from Africa and beyond. We will be working with indigenous communities to ensure this is a thriving space for traditional knowledge and healing. It will also be a space for innovation and alternatives. A gathering space to reimagine the world we want to live in and to convert this into a reality.
Unfortunately, with the lockdown regulations in South Africa as they stand, we don’t foresee being able to use the space of Earthrise Mountain Lodge for many months. All bookings were cancelled with the onset of Covid-19 and the subsequent restrictions. We want to ensure that this continues to be a thriving space and it is in jeopardy due to the lack of income or alternative funding at this time.
While we can’t wait to initiate the longer-term dream we have which will benefit activists, movements and civil society organisations whose struggles are so crucial for solving the planetary crisis, we would like to fundraise for the modest costs required for the short-term upkeep. We are looking to you for your support to do this together.
@photos by Clare Louise Thomas