Information was provided over the weekend to this correspondent that the USAID funded STAR project has partnered with the Mweya Safari Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park and UCOTA, the Uganda Community Tourism Association to raise funds towards conservation education in schools neighbouring the park in the wider area. STAR, aka Sustainable Tourism in the Albertine Rift has for the past years been actively working with sections of the tourism fraternity in particular in education programmes and product innovations and Mweyas participation will be a boost towards the projects objectives.
Guests staying at Mweya can now on check in tick a box contributing one US Dollar on their final bill, which owning company Marasa Limited will then remit periodically to the joint initiative. Coined 1 Dollar for the Future the funds collected will help to build a new school but will also support activities by the Wildlife Clubs of Uganda to create awareness and sensitize pupils on the need for the conservation of nature to ensure sustainability in the future. Upon completion of the first school a joint panel will then decide on additional projects for 2012 and beyond.
Marasa operates three lodges in Uganda including the Chobe and Paraa lodges in Murchisons Falls National Park and has presently three lodges in Kenya, the Mara Leisure Camp, the Aberdare Country Club and The Ark. The company is part of the Madhvani Group which already operates a half billion Uganda Shillings per annum Foundation from which a range of activities including scholarships benefitting tourism, hospitality and conservation science students are financed, but this latest initiative was launched directly by Mweya and is not part of the Madhvani Foundations work.