“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.
The Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust aims to see communities of Bushbuckridge, South Africa benefit from conservation. This is achieved through partnership between conservation and communities helping one another – the meaning of ‘Pfunanani’.
With a focus on social upliftment, the Trust’s core value is building lasting relationships.
Set in this deep rural area, these communities are far removed from many public resources and often last in line for schooling, transport, water and other basic services. Although they lack financial resources, the area’s communities have a great asset in their abundant natural and human capital. The Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust works across 3 key pillars: Education, Environment and Enterprise.
The Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust aims to facilitate community engagement on conservation issues, increasing their involvement in the wildlife value chain, and activating youth participation against the poaching.
Jane Helen Paumgarten started the work that became the Pfunanani Trust in the mid-1980s.
Realising that the communities within the Sabi Sand Wildtuin needed to start engaging with the communities living outside its boundaries, she became one of the early pioneers in community development within Mpumalanga.
As the second daughter of Colonel Ian Mackenzie, the second chairman of the SSW, she was one of the first to recognise that the buy-in of the surrounding communities was critical to the long-term sustainability of the SSW.
Her work building partnerships in the communities of Lillydale, Justicia and Ireagh led to the development and support of a variety of initiatives, including schools, community vegetable gardens, bakeries, recycling projects, chicken farms and candle-making projects. She remained actively engaged in these projects for decades, continuing to visit projects and colleagues within the communities, until deciding to step-down when the Pfunanani Trust was adopted by the SSW as their official community outreach body.
Being the first to acknowledge that she experienced varying levels of success, she was a driving force within the SSW community to engage directly in supporting the local communities. Working independently and without the frameworks of business plans, and CSI investments, she built up a variety of relationships with local leaders to make improvements to the economic and social value of the communities. With a mixture of stubbornness and tenacity, defined in her mind in the belief to “get things done”, she formed the path that the current Pfunanani Trust is able to follow.
She was held in very high regard by the people she worked with and even when she eventually stepped down from her responsibilities with the Pfunanani, she remained in contact with many of her friends & colleagues. Every year headmasters continued to call her annually to keep her updated on their matric pass rates.
In addition to the work in the SSW, she was committed to a range of other community support projects. As chairperson of the Mackenzie Foundation she was involved in projects ranging from the upkeep of Johannesburg’s oldest Anglican church (built in 1886), to providing the bears at the JHB zoo with play enrichment equipment, to supporting the Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy and the Casterbridge Music Development Academy.
Jane engaged with the world on her own terms and with bravery, determination, compassion, and a wonderful sense of humour. She was an adventurer and explorer, a farmer, a mother, a wife, a philanthropist, a hunter, a game ranger, an entrepreneur, a sister and a friend. She will be missed dearly by her husband Richard, her daughter Fiona, her son-on-law Ross, her brother Iain and the rest of the Mackenzie family.
Jane died on the 6th of January 2019, after a short illness. A memorial service was held for her on the 19th of January at her farm Salela, in Hazyview, Mpumalanga.