From the local village called KwaMnyayisa, next to Lake Shingeza, comes this elegant lady, Thandeka Gumede. She tentatively applied for a position as a temporary waitress at Kosi Forest Lodge in 2007. She was studying via correspondence to become a teacher and needed to find ways of funding her studies. Thandeka was immediately hired and her potential was soon recognized as she moved into full time waitressing, then to assistant chef and finally she was trained as an administrator “though I wasn’t having any computer skills” she marvels.
Her eyes widen as she describes one day being asked to do a welcome and check-in of a guest. “I was terrified but didn’t want to disappoint the manager” she explains. “The next day I said I want to do it again to get it right. Eventually I got used to it,” she smiles and now hers is one of the first kindly faces you may encounter at the lodge.
I ask what she enjoys about her work and her answer is quick and enthusiastic – “I love hosting and admin – you get to meet people from all different countries and cultures. Some people are very open and you can talk about real issues of life with them. I enjoy telling them about my culture.”
Thandeka is still studying to become a teacher, but confesses “Even when I do become a teacher, in my spare time and holidays I will continue working here because I have met so many interesting people. Thanks to our guests coming from France and Canada I even learnt to say “Bonjour!” and I have lots more to learn from them.”