Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa
WESSA is a South African environmental organization which aims to initiate and support environmental and conservation projects to promote public participation in caring for the Earth. WESSA has become a leading implementer of environmental initiatives in South Africa, including an Eco-Schools programme involving more than 500 000 learners across South Africa; the Blue Flag programme which focuses on the environmental management of beaches and coastal waters; environmental education and training to improve skills development; the conservation of life-supporting biodiversity and water resources; climate change mitigation and adaptation; and the WESSA Rhino and Elephant initiatives.
"The Tourism Blue Flag project aims to improve the experience of local, domestic and international visitors to our beaches, while simultaneously providing youth with accredited training with the ultimate goal of developing them for further employment in the Blue Economy.
Since 2015, more than 200 participants have taken on the role of “Beach Stewards” at Blue Flag sites around the country with the aim of improving the experience for all visitors to these places. The Beach Stewards are hosted by local coastal municipalities, Non-Profit Organisations and commercial tourism operators and over busy school holiday periods, are based on our beaches. Here, the Beach Stewards are involved in activities such as monitoring of beach user activity and visitor trends; conducting visitor surveys; coordinating fun and interactive environmental education activities for school-going children; assisting lifeguards by helping to improve water safety at the beach; and helping beach managers to maintain the high Blue Flag standards. The Beach Stewards also receiving accredited training in environmental education and tourism guiding from WESSA over their learnership period.
Starting in 2020, WESSA will be implementing the “Child Safe Beaches” project with generous funding from the World Childhood Foundation. Through this project, WESSA will begin the implementation of the successful and award winning “ChildSafe Movement” programme, owned by Friends International. With this project, our Blue Flag Beach Stewards will integrate child safety protocols into their daily action plans at specified popular beaches where child safety issues have been recognised. This project will also carry out awareness campaigns and training interventions for local stakeholders in the travel and tourism sectors of these targeted sites." [from https://wessa.org.za/our-work/sustainable-tourism/tourism-blue-flag/]
Looking forward to a very busy 2020, we decided to assist and have 2 Stewards join us, Thembisa Nobomvu and Luzuko Gwampi. After a meet and greet and ride around the Bay, just to check their sea legs, we were happy to have both on board with our team for the year. The programme was very well worked out and Stewards were given a schedule for the year. The Schedule was filled with accredited training, non-accredited training, Blue Flag Events and of course time learning about our company and working with us. To work with us on the boats as crew Stewards require a pre-sea qualification. Thembisa already had hers and Luzuko was assisted by WESSA to obtain his. Both fitted in well with our team and enjoyed a few trips to sea with guests before the Covid-19 lockdown hit us all. With tourism coming to a complete stand still we decided to take the time to catch up with various projects we are working on and asked Thembisa and Luzuko to put together a "WESSA Stewards Raggy Charters Training Manual". This they did with great enthusiasm in between completing the many tasks given to them by WESSA. Luzuko unfortunately had to leave the program early due to unforseen personal circumstances, so Thembisa completed the Manual and Purity, our full time Marine Guide, assisted with editing and finalising.
With Tourism just ticking over and a few cruises happening with locals we decided to host just 1 Steward for the year 2021 which has rolled over into 2022. We welcome Olwethu Nyondo to the team.
Olwethu has her Diploma in Tourism Management from the Neslon Mandela University and has also completed a short course to become more computer literate. Owethu enjoys travel, swimming, reading, spending time with young children and being involved in local charities and community development.
Since joining us Olwethu has obtained her pre-sea certificate and is enjoying finding her sea-legs and learning from the comprehensive manual put together by last years Stewards.
Olwethu about to depart on her adventure with Raggy Charters
Olwethu (far left) with other Wessa Stewards attending non-acredited training by doing beach cleanups and observations on restroom cleanliness and to ensure that Blue Flag rules are being abided by.
Besides assisting and learning from us through work experience, the WESSA team do so much more. This includes accredited training such as Tourism Guiding, First Aid, Beach Training and Community Service.
For Mandela Day on 18th July 2021 Olwethu joined SSTrust, SANCCOB, NMBM and Zwartkops Conservancy Stewards to clear the Aloe Trail and pick-up litter at the Groendal Nature Reserve. Zwartkops Conservancy and WESSA are planning for monthly initiatives to maintain the trail with the involvement of other PE-Based Stewards.
Sadly Olwethu had to leave us early in 2022 and head off to Cape Town on a new adventure she could not refuse, we received these kind words from Olwethu and wish her all the best.
"It has been a great pleasure working with WESSA along with the Raggy Charters team as I have learnt a lot, from learning about the sea life, how humans can protect them and the importance of the sea life especially for the tourism industry. The most important thing I have learnt is to take responsibility for your actions as they do at Raggy Charters, for every trip that they take, a Spekboom is planted as it helps fight climate change and air pollution by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Will definitely miss being on the boat and doing educational events with schools spreading out the knowledge.
Thank you so much for the opportunity, it has been a wonderful experience working with a team that always works together to achieve their goals. They really made the working environment a happy and peaceful place to be in and had lots of fun on the boat with Purity, Jake and Lloyd."
With Olwethu leaving us we were very happy to have Thembisa (from 2020) step back in and carry on with the 2021/2022 WESSA Project. Here are a few words from Thembisa
"My overall experience with Raggy Charters has been nothing but great (I had to come back again!). It is a great working environment where I was/am given many opportunities to grow and gain new skills in the Tourism industry. The Raggy Charters team is productive and they make learning opportunities interesting. The best thing about the team is the family atmosphere and culture. The team in the field is very young, which made it very easy for me to enjoy my time with Raggy Charters. I've been able to grow professionally and personally and have developed meaningful friendships and relationships. I am excited about these next few months with them."
Thembisa was proudly part of the 2022 WESSA Production :
On 8th June Owlethu managed to visit PE again and attend her WESSA Gradutaion at Pine Lodge Resort with Thembisa. A lovely morning was had byb all. Thank you to WESSA for all your enthusiasm and assistance.