Many countries have had to adjust to the effects of COVID 19 across the globe. To prevent further spread, travel restrictions have been put in place both locally and internationally. This has resulted in foreign tourists not being able to visit the spectacular joint venture conservancy lodges in Namibia. These lodges are not only a beautiful tourist destination, but they are also a means of income to the locals in the area.
Nambwa Tented Lodge situated in Bwabwata National Park in the Zambezi region is a joint venture tourism operation with Mayuni Conservancy. The lodge hires local staff in the area and one of these is Reuben Mwamo who welcomes guests with his big warm smile and makes you feel right at home. His charming personality makes it easy for him to interact well with guests. He shares with us the benefits of working at the lodge and how this has helped improve his livelihood.
In 2016, Reuben started as a casual worker at Nambwa for about two weeks. He was recruited from the nearby villages; the lodge owners strongly believe in hiring locals to build and work at their lodges as this helps the locals acquire new skills. In November 2016 he was part of the builders at Kazile lodge, which is across the river. He had no prior building skills but was shown and quickly caught on. Reuben was then transferred to Nambwa as part of the maintenance team. After three months in the maintenance department, he approached the manager and asked to be part of the waiters. “I had to be trained to be a waiter and after my training when I started serving people, I got many positive reviews on trip advisor, guests liked me because of how I would interact with them”. The managers realised how capable and hardworking Reuben was and in June 2017 he became a barman. As he mixes his cocktails, he charmingly explains to guests the names of the different drinks named after animals or places. In November 2018, he was promoted to be a Food and Beverage supervisor which is now his current position. He takes pride in how he moved from maintenance to where he is now. “Hard work and determination pay off,” says Reuben.
“I like my job because I get to interact with different kinds of people from around the world and experience different cultures and I can share my culture with them as well. I am also able to pay my tuition from my salary. The salary is also able to sustain myself and my family for now. It is not easy working and studying but I am determined, and I have a vision and goal to be my own boss.”
Reuben believes that growth and having a vision are important. “You cannot expect to move when you keep doing things the same way. I have a five-year plan which includes me studying business management at Regend Business school.” Reuben is currently doing his business course on distance with the college based in Windhoek. This is a two-year course that he is paying for himself from the money he makes working at the lodge. Without the work at the lodge he would not have been able to afford the school. He is excited about the course because he one day wants to start his own business. Reuben is looking to start something small that he can manage and sustain. He has two children and wants a good life for them. He is grateful for the job he has and the exposure that it has given him.
By visiting lodges in conservancies, you will be supporting locals such as Reuben achieve their dreams. Plan your next trip to these magnificent conservation areas with beautiful locals that you can interact with and learn from.