Community Spirit Flourishes in Victoria Falls in the Time of COVID-19

The normally bustling tourist town of Victoria Falls has been ushered to a standstill by the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, but these tough times have brought out Zimbabweans’ trademark resourcefulness and resilience.

The Victoria Falls community - where most livelihoods depend on tourism - has banded together, with those able to, assisting its more vulnerable members. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate, operated by hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism (AAT), has been a part of this.

AAT chief executive Ross Kennedy said the community in and around Victoria Falls is the fundamental strength of the destination and tourism sector.

“In good times and in bad, and especially in the unprecedented times of COVID-19’s devastating impact, it is this very same community that has shown incredible spirit, fortitude and resolve,” Kennedy said. 

“AAT has continued to contribute to community projects through our corporate social responsibility programme and ethos to the best of our resources and abilities in such challenging times,” Kennedy says.

“We have spread our support through human resources, donations of goods and services, and the limited financial support we can give with business closed, as well as energy, guidance and skills where appropriate. 

“We all wish we could do more of course, but our commitment to do as much as we can for as long as we can, will prevail. We salute our colleagues and the community in both public and private sectors for their commitment and loyalty to the Victoria Falls community."

Despite being closed since April 1, the Vulture Culture Experience - a supplementary feeding programme for these endangered birds – has continued at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate, as has some support for the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU), and operations at Victoria Falls Recycling.

In addition, three Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate employees, this month, visited Monde Village, located 14km from Victoria Falls town, with donations of clothing - which came from employees and past guests - and soap.

VFAPU, which helps to protect Victoria Falls’ wildlife, and relies on donations to survive, has also been hit hard. AAT also handed over goods, which included first aid supplies, cameras and batteries to VFAPU donated by past guests through the Pack for a Purpose initiative.

A Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate team also joined an initiative spearheaded by Greenline Africa, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and others to remove lantana, an invasive weed, from the Victoria Falls rainforest last week.

Meanwhile, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate general manager Anald Musonza has spent time ensuring that the region is equipped to manage the pandemic by being instrumental in establishing the Victoria Falls COVID-19 Taskforce, of which he is deputy chair.

The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate gardens are growing food for vulnerable communities, and US$500 has been donated towards medical and personal protective equipment to fight COVID-19.  In addition, food has been donated to health workers, soap to the returnees at the quarantine centre, as well as 1,000 food hampers to the less privileged, Musonza said.

Work done by the taskforce has included setting up two isolation centres and a quarantine centre for returning residents, refurbishing Victoria Falls Hospital’s intensive care unit and safeguarding the food security of the community’s vulnerable families.

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