Our ties with the Bushmen began in February 2001 when our marketing director decided that she felt so strongly about the heritage behind Redbush Tea that she wanted to create a means to give back something to the descendants of the people who first discovered this amazing plant. In so doing we hoped to help them preserve their culture and their dignity.
Historically the San lived over a vast area and were not restricted by political boundaries or geographical borders. Like many indigenous and minority groups, they are deeply committed to promoting their cultural and socio-economic rights. There are today about 85,000 San left in six southern African countries including South Africa. They represent our last connection to the hunter-gatherer existence, a lifestyle that was present globally until 10,000 years ago.
Today the human rights issues which they have to deal with are similar to those in other parts of the world; discrimination, difficulty gaining access to land and natural resources and being subject to re-settlement programmes away from their ancestral areas, additionally, numerous San were killed, tortured or made homeless as a result of the recent Angolan war.
The Redbush Tea Company has been giving a percentage of the profits from the sale of their teas to the Kalahari Peoples Fund (KPF). They are a 35-year-old, not for profit organisation that came together to help the San and other peoples in southern Africa. KPF raises funds and provides technical and advisory assistance, principally in the areas of community-based land & resource rights. Most critical in its mission is achieving progress in education, human rights and the development of land use planning, as well as assisting in building schools, medical facilities etc.
Essentially The Redbush Tea Company through your support will help the KPF to work with the San groups to promote innovative community-based development programmes. These will range from training community members to become local teachers, ensuring that their culture and language is sustained, forming art and craft co-operatives, establishing farmland where crops can be grown to support communities, providing boreholes and irrigation, and buying computers for their schools.
With your support we have helped KPF to achieve:
- Lamination machines to preserve precious books, display and teaching materials from heat and dust. In collaboration with BP Solar and Sony Corporation USA, we purchased printers, digital cameras, laptops and solar installations. In addition, two members of the Ju/’hoan* community Kaqece Kallie N!ani and Dahm Kim Dabe are being trained to operate and help with the overall curriculum so that written materials and training are in the Ju/’hoan language and can, therefore, be used in all Ju/’hoan areas of Namibia.
- We teamed up with Time Warner Book Group UK who endorsed Redbush Tea as the tea of choice of Mma Ramotswe and her No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, from the award-winning series of books by Alexander McCall Smith. We raised money through the sale of promotional packs of Redbush Tea to raise money to build a new pre-school in the Ju/’hoan village of Den/ui. This was our most successful promotion to date as we raised sufficient funds to not only build the school but also to pay for equipment and two local San teachers salaries for the year(will be Namibian Government funded thereafter). Alexander McCall Smith said when he learned how successful the project had been. I am delighted that the money was raised in this way and I am particularly thrilled that a school was built as a result. This is very good news indeed’.
- Literacy project – while the Namibian government has agreed to pay the necessary teacher and trainee salaries additional funding is still needed to cover the cost of books and literacy materials as well as equipment to help the teachers continue to help develop ‘mother tongue’ education projects with the Ju/’hoan and other San peoples. Redbush Tea has covered the cost of this. We have also made a substantial contribution towards a Ju/’hoan community book project, paying for transcribing and translation of the word for word recordings of Ju/’hoan elders.
- Another project with us working once again with Little, Brown Book Group (formerly Time Warner) and award-winning author Alexander McCall Smith, was a promotion to help raise more money for the Village Schools Project (VSP). A new book in the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series – Blue Shoes & Happiness was published in February 2007 and the author kindly agreed to let us promote this while fundraising for KPF.
- We funded a water irrigation and reticulation project in /Ukxoarama in N. Botswana which has provided the San with the facilities for not only clean fresh water but also the chance to grow their own food. As government handouts are being withdrawn and with the loss of their hunter-gatherer way of life it is critical that they find another sustainable means to feed themselves and their families.
- We chose to work specifically with one of the few remaining traditional San groups at Qharenxaho in the Kalahari in Botswana. The need for fresh, safe drinking water is immense, without it they cannot survive in this brutally marginal area where they have been forced to live since the loss of their ancestral lands. One of the elders there told our marketing manager when she visited them that she had given them hope for the future. We take our water for granted, as easy as turning on a tap, not so for the San.
- We went back to Namibia to the Nyae Nyae to fund another borehole, including the siting and drilling. We have chosen the village of ≠’Otcaq’ kxai, which is to the North of Den/ui where we built the pre-school in 2005. The village desperately needs fresh water accessible through irrigation and also a standpipe. This will provide for both their daily domestic needs as well as for cattle troughs and also for irrigation for their vegetables.
- We’ve produced a special promotional box to raise funds for a borehole, vegetable garden, irrigation and meeting house in the village of N‡ ama in the Nyae Nyae, Namibia. Their old well had dried up and living in one of the remotest parts of the conservancy, meant they desperately needed our help.
- We returned back to Botswana, siting another much-needed borehole in the village of Labala. Funded from a fantastic on-pack promotion we ran with the support of Disney’s The Lion King, we were able to change their lives for the better.
We will continue to help support charities with their work with helping the San to improve their lives and to ensure the survival of their culture.