Three years ago, I started Eenblond Tours, finally doing what I love most. My aim was to introduce my city, culture and beautiful country to the world in a more authentic, real way. My passion paid off, and my company did well almost immediately. I strongly believe in giving back to the communities I tour in, and especially in Soweto, I could get involved in several NGO projects, from buying school shoes, planting veggie gardens, supplying food and distributing sanitizers in recent months.
In February 2020, COVID reached South Africa, and the tourism industry came to an overnight standstill. South Africa went into one of the most strict lockdowns in the world in March. I had to refund the entire year's bookings, depleting all my savings in one go. With the help of two generous donations from previous guests, I could survive the first month, and could still provide assistance to the NGO's I support in Soweto.
Our lockdown fell in South Africa's winter. My entrepreneurial brain kicked in, and I started a successful fire wood business during our lockdown. It was a success, resulting in me being featured in several newspapers and on radio. Unfortunately South African winters are super short, and by August, this business completely dried up.
Several promises for assistance from government was made, but none of my applications was approved. Local tourism was allowed again in September, and on 1 October, our borders opened to a select few countries. With very strict procedures in place, our airports however remain completely desolate, and I am yet to see a tourist in Jozi.
I never saw myself being in this position as lockdown is actually slowly lifting. These are the worst months for me by far. I'm keeping an eye on jobs out there, but with the South African economy on it's knees, I honestly don't know where to turn to anymore. I keep on hustling with projects, trying to sell tours to locals - not successful yet, as my market has always been international.
Worst even, is that the NGO's that relied on me and other donations, are struggling even more. So my aim is to spend a third of donations on a summer veggie garden in Jabavu, Soweto.
This is a horrible place to be in, as so many other people are, but one thing this pandemic taught me, is that people are kind and generous. Also to ask when you need help. This is me asking....please help me save my beloved Eenblond TOURS.
What I will spend the money on:
1. Paying outstanding rent, electricity, water, insurance and internet. Oh, and food.
2. Lay out a veggie garden for Soweto Home Based Caregivers.
3. Buy my Soweto guides airtime vouchers so they can keep on working.
Your Dollars, Euros and Pounds go a very long way in South Africa :)