Samara Karoo Reserve, near Graaff-Reinet, was established in 1997 by Mark and Sarah Tompkins as a passionate conservation project. Over 27 years, they have restored 67,000 acres of land, consulting with ecologists before purchasing 11 farms covering 5 of South Africa’s 9 vegetation biomes. They eradicated alien invasive plants, removed internal fencing, and rested the land for decades. Milestones include reintroducing cheetahs, elephants, and lions after many years. Samara actively restores and rehabilitates degraded landscapes through sound land management practices. In 2022, the Finch and Plojoux families joined the Tompkinses in their journey, equally committed to the future of this Karoo ecosystem.

The Samara/Vuyani Connection

During the 2010 Soccer World Cup, a group of overseas soccer trainers hosted a training academy at Samara for the local community’s children. Vuyani entered a team, and the Samara Volunteer leaders, Alwyn and Hayley, approached Vuyani with an offer to be part of Samara’s community outreach project. Sarah Tompkins endorsed this liaison and has since become a loyal ambassador for Vuyani whenever an opportunity presents itself

Benefits of the Partnership

Vuyani has greatly benefited from partnering with Samara – first through their Volunteer Program during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer holidays. Our children were invited to join the volunteers in various ecological projects, such as soil restoration and spekboom planting. The children learned about different species relocated at Samara, walked with cheetahs, and saw the big five in the wild. These volunteers were also welcomed for visits at Vuyani on a regular basis and they did various programs with our children, e.g. art classes and joining in the weekly. Covid-19 has ended this season as the Samara Volunteer Program came to an end.

However, Sarah Tompkins and her team at Samara Karoo Reserve have continued to be steadfast supporters of Vuyani Safe Haven. Their care and generosity still manifest in various impactful ways:

  • Annual Party: Samara hosts an annual party for all Vuyani staff and children, creating a memorable experience for everyone involved.
  • Pack for a Purpose: They actively encourage their guests to participate in the Pack for a Purpose program, bringing donations for the children at Vuyani.
  • Organized Outings: Samara organizes regular outings for groups of Vuyani children to visit the reserve, providing them with enriching experiences and lasting memories.
  • Generous Donations: Guests at Samara have made generous donations towards Vuyani’s building program after creating opportunities to interact with guests or bringing guests to Vuyani to meet the children who will benefit from donations.

Support for Buy-a-Brick Campaign: Samara has been actively supporting Vuyani’s Buy-a-Brick Campaign, demonstrating their commitment to improving the lives of the children at Vuyani. Various friends and guests were informed about the huge need for the upgrading.

Vuyani extends its heartfelt gratitude to the Samara team for their unwavering support in our mission to bring joy to the vulnerable children under our care. From hosting special events to facilitating donations and memorable visits, Samara’s dedication has truly made a difference in the lives of our children. We are honoured to have such committed partners in our journey.

We are so grateful for this connection with the Samara team over many years. The pictures below embroider on this remarkable story of a team of people who are willing to go beyond what is expected of them.

Soccer World Cup 2010
First Christmas Party at Samara

Visitors to Vuyani brought by Samara

Sarah Tompkins and her team

Experiencing Samara

Fun & Games & Talks around a table

Environmental Programs

Christmas Party Time