The spirit of Ubuntu is alive and well at the Timbavati Foundation; ask “Glad” at Nhlayiseko old-age home, she’ll tell you!

When qualified nursing sister ”Glad” (that’s what she likes to be called) made contact with the Timbavati Foundation she had quite a story to tell. She had taken her entire pension and built an old-age home.

Not because she thought she could make money, rather, she felt such compassion for all the old people in her community in need of care, many of them destitute. She tried to raise funds from the government, from the local municipality and drew a blank. So “Glad” decided to go it alone. Her children wanted to know what would happen to them?  “God will provide,” was mom’s answer. Then fate, Providence, call it what you will, stepped in and she approached the Timbavati Foundation.

The Timbavati Foundation is a not for profit Public Benefit Organisation that, from humble beginnings, has positively affected the lives of thousands of members of previously disadvantaged communities neighbouring the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. After the Foundation assessed Glad’s situation and her mission to help the aged in her community, things started happening. In September 2018 a borehole was drilled and is functioning. A 22 metre netted veggie garden was established and irrigation provided. The old-age home can now plant and grow their own veggies. The Foundation also provides ongoing help and care in this regard. Kitchen utensils and equipment were also provided.

Properly irrigated veggie gardens mean communities can help sustain themselves.


Started almost 20 years ago by the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve (TPNR) and the de Villiers family, landowners in the TPNR, ostensibly as a “bush” school to help educate children of staff in the Reserve.

In 2010 the Timbavati Foundation was formed and registered as a Public Benefit Organisation. Funded by various sponsors with the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve being by far the largest - in 2019 the reserve donated over R2 million!

The Foundation is steeped in the spirit of Ubuntu and works extensively to uplift the lives of communities neighbouring the TPNR via a series of ongoing outreach programmes based on 4 pillars:


From humble beginnings, the Timbavati Foundation moved to vastly upgraded facilities located outside the TPNR known as the Timbavati Environmental School. Once again, the de Villiers family were instrumental, providing the land and buildings. This new facility provides overnight accommodation for students and their teachers and has a team of professional staff as well as a fully equipped kitchen.

Thanks to the Foundation:

  • 6,800 people now have water due to borehole installations.
  • 16,224 meals given annually to school students.
  • 64 Schools accommodated annually at the Environmental School.
  • 14,200 Students benefit from veggie gardens for self-sustenance.
  • 4,500 Students have rain harvesting water equipment for veggie gardens.
  • +1,000 students now have safe and hygienic toilets.
  • +/-40,000 students have visited the TPNR Graeme Naylor museum as part of ongoing educational programme.

The outreach programmes that the Timbavati Foundation runs are built on 4 pillars:


Students from local high and primary schools are taught about conservation


Originally founded by the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and the de Villiers family, landowners in the TPNR, a bush school was built within the reserve to benefit the children of staff. Now a spanking new facility, located outside the reserve, has a fully equipped lecture room and accommodation for 24 students and their teachers. Currently the Foundation works with 64 local schools, both high and primary. There’s a fully equipped kitchen and dining area that serves nutritious, hot meals.

Education is provided by skilled educators and revolves around:

  • *Soil and vegetation.
  • *Soil erosion and pollution control.
  • *Water conservation.
  • *Perma gardening.
  • *Relationships between man and wildlife.
  • *Anti-poaching

The Environmental School provides bursaries to promising and motivated learners to further their education in nature conservation. Mandla, who came on a visit to the school, got a bursary from the Foundation to go to the Graaff-Reinet SA College of Tourism and now works in one of the private game reserves bordering the Kruger National Park.

Safe, hygienic loos are installed.


Various sustainability programmes in neighbouring communities as well as outreach and educational programmes in high and primary schools are run. The core focus is to educate on best environmental practices. Also to expand teacher workshops at local schools.

Pupils are given an assignment to create a perma-garden within their community or school. This assignment takes a year and special emphasis is placed on erosion control, tidiness, recycling and sustainability. The Foundation partnered with the Wildlands Trust in the Indigenous Trees for Life Programme as well as the Environmental Monitor Programme with Kruger to Canyons Biosphere. These partnerships have provided meaningful employment for young local people who have graduated from conservation or tourism colleges.

Some of these gardens have become an important food source for the communities and augment Government feeding schemes as well as engendering a sense of pride and achievement within the communities.

Winners get a free trip to the Kruger National Park. Best students go on to do a course at the Southern African Wildlife College, a SADC recognised centre of specialization. Other promising students also undergo hospitality training at the SA College for Tourism in Graaff-Reinet.


Programmes are designed to uplift and care for disadvantaged neighbouring communities.

These covers:

  • Provision of water tanks.
  • Sinking of boreholes.
  • Construction of safe environmentally friendly toilets.
  • Construction of netted veggie gardens and training in all garden practices.
  • Bursaries for further training in conservation.
  • Funding of Healing Hearts an NGO crucially involved with people who need social care including orphans and destitute people.
  • The Nhlayiseko Old-Age Home which is a good example of how these programmes work.

Boreholes are drilled providing many communities with clean, permanent water.


The Timbavati Foundation is committed to supporting healthcare facilities such as the Phelwana Clinic located in the TPNR. The clinic provides free HIV, TB testing and counseling and treats a variety of other illnesses i.e. sexually transmitted diseases and provides antenatal guidance. These services are free of charge to all staff at lodges, camps and staff of the TPNR.

In partnership with Hlokomela, the Foundation offers primary healthcare services at the Environmental School every second month on a Monday. Easy access to treatment for chronic diseases and other ailments are incredibly helpful to employees from neighbouring lodges - they don’t have to wait for hours as they would at public clinics. There’s also training sessions for high school learners on TB, HIV/AIDS, Diabetes and STDs.

Hygienic, nourishing meals are provided at the Foundation’s Environmental School.

The Timbavati Private Nature Reserves supports the Timbavati Foundation as their main community upliftment entity.