Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal, 02 April 2020 – Isibindi Africa Lodges founder, Brett Gehren, has released a moving video in which he narrates a message of courage to the Groups’ staff following the crisis situation of the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown, and their reaction to this dire situation.
Here is a transcript of Bretts’ message of courage:
“Twenty-seven years ago, when we started Isibindi Africa Lodges, we called it Isibindi because at the time we needed courage, and the Zulu word for courage is iSibindi.
We needed the courage to start our brand new business from scratch, that would one day attract people from across the globe.
Today, again, we draw on that courage. We need iSibindi to stand together.
To stand together as a family, as communities, as a country – to face off the threat of coronaviruses, and to make sure that at the end we come out stronger.
As news of the Coronavirus spread across the world it was evident that it would have a massive impact on tourism.
When the first case arrived on our shores in early March, I quickly realized that Isibindi Africa had to act swiftly, as this could be a severe threat to the future of our business.
I met with my trusted senior team and it was incredible how everyone bought into the fact that we would all have to make sacrifices.
The support I got from them was amazing. I then had to meet with all the staff at different lodges.
This was a daunting task as I was not the bearer of good news.
I think they were terrified by it. I think they understood it. I’m not sure that they knew what it meant for their future.
I’m sure that they were all concerned that they would be told to go home. They did not know if the lodge would stay open or not. And whether they would continue to get salaries or any support from us.
Standing in front of the staff that I had known for so many years – friends that I had seen develop from labourers to lodge managers – I quickly realized that I had their support.
Breaking the news that they would need to make some substantial salary sacrifices was made so much easier knowing that we were going to stand together through this.
I assured them that I was in this with him, that we would be fighting together a to make sure that we come out at the end of this stronger and with a business intact and one that can continue to pay the salaries and wages that are so desperately needed in these remote communities.
The heavy load of caring for our communities and the incredible natural wonders around our lodges into an uncertain future is made bearable by the unwavering support from all our staff.
They give me the courage, the iSibindi to stride forward knowing that this will pass.“
About Isibindi Africa Lodges: Founded in 1996, the Group owns and operates six tourism businesses in South Africa and one in Zimbabwe. These are; Isibindi Zulu Lodge, Kosi Forest Lodge, Rhino Walking Safaris, Rhino Post Safari Lodge, Thonga Beach Lodge, Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge and Tsowa Safari Island (Zimbabwe). For more information visit www.isibindi.co.za.