Developing a B&B Within a Volunteer Community – De Vlierhof

A little piece I’ve written for the Vlierhof Community blog where I presently live.

by Leo Passaportis, community member

About The Community

The Vlierhof is an international community run by volunteers from all walks of life, young and old. Founded in 2002 by Anutosh Varik, some residents view themselves as long-term ‘carriers’, others as short-term helpers. Some come and go on a seasonal basis. For others it is their primary place of residence. In short, the Vlierhof wouldn’t function without the volunteers. ‘But what are you about?’ is the question that arises quite naturally. Let me touch on this in order to better contextualise the setting for a profit-generating Bed and Breakfast which we now operate.

The Vlierhof is owned by an organisation, a BVJ, which ensures that we exist as a recognised entity which can operate as a business, conduct for-profit activities and remit taxes. That said, at this point in time, all revenue is reinvested in the community – ‘Vlierhof plc’ – in alignment with our vision and core values. We’ve strived to derive a vision from these core values and after several in-depth discussions on the subject we arrived at a statement:

We envision a space where anyone can: 
learn and grow through experimentation,
connect and create together,
and be empowered to make conscious choices.

There is particular emphasis on sustainable practises, living harmoniously, inner-work and spiritual development,  and a horizontal power structure. We strive, and believe me it is not without difficulties, to adhere to a sociocratic governance model. Everyone has a voice and no-one’s voice is more important than anyone else’s.

Read more here: Developing a B&B Within a Volunteer Community – De Vlierhof


Mwana wevhu on Bond notes: This is not normal — Conversation Zimbabwe

I just opened my Reader with a view to seeing who might have blogged about the impending reintroduction of bond notes in Zimbabwe some 7 years after the last ones had been phased out.

Considering the abject failure of these notes at that time to alleviate the economic woes of the country’s economy I expect every Zimbabwean with a clear recollection of those times to genuinely, logically fear the consequences of their reintroduction this time around. If anyone can convince me otherwise please make your arguments…

Access original post: This is NOT normal In a few short hours, bond notes are going to be on the streets. After months of citizens campaigning against their reintroduction. After pleas for the Reserve Bank and the government to try anything, ANYTHING, other than both notes. After the people of Zimbabwe have gone blue in the […]

via Mwana wevhu on Bond notes: This is not normal — Conversation Zimbabwe

Hiking in the Central Drakensberg

As published on my sister travel blog.

These Archived Memories

I’m presently working as a volunteer at Ardmore Guest Farm in the Champagne Valley area of the Central Drakensberg, KZN, South Africa. I’ve been here a little over 2 weeks but I feel I’ve settled well. I am one of 4 volunteers,  the last of which only arrived today. More of that in another post!

I guess I’ve missed the hustle and bustle of the hospitality trade even though I can tell you it got my blood pressure up at times! Today has also been one of those days but it’s an exception to an otherwise pleasant stay. The landscape is incredibly scenic around here. At almost any time of day (poor weather notwithstanding) one can see a panoramic vista of the mighty ‘Berg from almost anywhere in the valley. Paul and Sue (the owners) have built a dozen or so chalets and bungalows, some mountain-facing, others garden-facing. You pay a…

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Zimbabwe’s Diamond Fields: A Tale of Unprecedented Plunder

“Transfer pricing, trade mis-invoicing, and capital flight through the repatriation of profits by Anjin to China and by local elites to secret bank accounts in South Africa, Hong Kong , the Cayman Islands and other areas is also oozing a significant amount of capital that should be used to improve the lives of the poor.”!


Civil society, trade unions and community organisations should unite and demand  not only the end of corruption at Chiadzwa but the nationalisation and appropriation of all the properties of those who looted. The failures of private capital have been laid bare…

In 2008 at the height of the economic crisis thousands of unemployed youths flooded the Chiadzwa mining area in what was a dramatic ‘diamond rush’ following the expiration of De Beers’ mining licence in 2006 and the cancellation of Africa Consolidated resources’ mining licence. De Beers had plundered diamonds at Chiadzwa for roughly 13 years using its ‘Exclusive Prospecting Orders’ (EPOS).It had a 47 EPOS in Chipinge. The international diamond mining company covertly expropriated thousands of tonnes of diamonds under the guise of ‘exploration samples’, ‘crushed rock samples’ and ‘kimberlitic rock samples’.

ray Raymond Sango

The unemployed youths who later on descended on Chiadzwa…

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The Waiting Game: A Challenge to Intra-African Trade

Nice to have some hard data attached to this topic. Unbelievable that 60-70% of data has to be inputed more than once at customs posts. I remember all the fanfare surrounding Nepad when Mbeki was in power and the promise of free trade and monetary union. Let’s hope the TFTA has more substance to it.

Nations & States

A few years ago, I was in southern Zambia, near the border with Zimbabwe. Fascinated as I am by arbitrary things like national borders, I asked my guide if one could set foot in Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s realm without a visa. “Yes,” he replied, there is a way: the Victoria Falls bridge, which spans the gorge of the Zambezi just downstream of the waterfall whose name it bears. The Zimbabwean border post is around half a mile from the bridge’s end, so one can step briefly into the country without ever crossing paths with officialdom.

This is how I found myself on an impressive turn-of-the-century steel arch bridge, 130 meters from the roaring waters below. I crossed the border, an invisible line cutting the bridge in half, and walked briefly on Zimbabwe’s soil. It was almost anticlimactically easy.

The same could not be said for the experience of dozens…

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Back to the Hatay

Part I of a recent trip I made to the Hatay region of Turkey.

These Archived Memories

I ‘d visited Antakya (formerly Antioch of old) and some notable attractions in the Hatay province back in 2013 when I’d last travelled the country beyond Istanbul. On that trip I clocked up a number or towns and cities along the Black Sea coast and further east, but Antakya stuck firmly in my mind as being somehow different. There was something about its history and assortment of communities that set it apart somehow.

I hadn’t even seriously considered visiting until by chance I fell in with a fellow traveller in Mardin, an Englishman called Ben. We were both travelling east to west and Antakya was firmly on his radar.

Antakya stuck firmly in my mind as being somehow different. There was something about its history and assortment of communities that set it apart somehow. 

During our brief stay of several days we occupied two of the guest rooms at a…

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Back to Istanbul and a short hop to Izmit

My latest updates from Turkey.

These Archived Memories

I’m back in Istanbul!

I’m back in Istanbul! That was me announcing my arrival (to myself of course) of a Sunday evening on the 18th of January, 2015. Although I hadn’t thought it at the time it was a rather auspicious date: my late mum was born that day back in 1952 and, coincidentally, my passport had been issued that day 4 years earlier (definitely not of great significance).

I had a good view of my previous place of employment as I flew out of London-Luton Airport – the manor estate called Luton Hoo (hotel, golf couse and spa) which borders on the one side of the airport – but not before I had to go through some unprecented formalities prior to check-out. You see, anyone traveling to Turkey today from mainland UK, especially men of a certain age, is deemed a potential Jihadist en route to Syria.

anyone traveling…

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Childhood Memories

A retrospective piece written a while back but no more (or less) retrospective than before! Basically about my childhood, growing up in Zimbabwe.

These Archived Memories

A little over three years ago I went through a retrospective phase and managed to sit down for several months and dedicate myself to writing about my life and experiences from childhood to the present day. Yes, it was therapeutic to a certain degree, but also a testament to things that have come and gone, things worth remembering. It is easy to grow nostalgic and sentimental looking back at the innocence of childhood, which can distort the objective recollection of the reality of the time, but this is not meant to be a historical piece.

Fortunately my mum was a quite an avid amateur photographer. I recall her brandishing a fairly basic but decent Minolta film camera at birthday parties, festive occasions, early family vacations: basically whenever she deemed it an appropriate moment to capture the moment for posterity. This foresight has been an obvious boon to me now because…

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Offline in Istanbul

Re-blogging a post from my new travel blog. Take a look please. More to follow.

These Archived Memories

Based on content extracted from my travelblog ( between 14/08/14 – 24/08/14.

I know much has been written about this incredible city. As my travel guide says in the preface ‘if ever there was a happening city is has to be Istanbul.’ Ok, I’m sure that could be said of a few other great metropolitans but Istanbul is, I can confirm, a very, very busy place. I won’t say too much because I’m rather exhausted. You see I have spent most of the day trying to change a flight ticket and it has been very, very frustrating. The crux of the issue is that I have not been technologically agile enough to negotiate the change in dates and attendant fee differences. Ataturk airport has NO INTERNET TERMINALS people. It has plenty of wi-fi but without a gadget you are hamstrung, as I was today. If you are new to the…

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The Ethics of Resistance

Really worth reblogging. The point is made in no uncertain terms without any explicit mention of the parties in question. A sad reality which has to change.

Inner Workings of My Mind

Strip a people of all freedoms. Take their land, kill their children and their loved ones, control their livelihoods, and prevent free movement. Strip them of their humanity. Occupy them. Deprive them of any form of justice. Do not, by any means, hold their aggressors accountable for their aggressions. Acknowledge the aggressor. Support the aggressor. Celebrate the aggressor. Do this for 66 years.

Then dictate to the occupied people the ethics of resistance.

Better yet, give them a list of the forms of resistance that are not allowed. Label those forms as terrorism. Do not tell them what you might consider to be “acceptable” resistance. Imply that non-violent compliance in the face of the complete annihilation of their civilization is the only form of resistance acceptable.

Tell them they must negotiate with the aggressor. Tell them they must accept all the conditions of their aggressor and cannot make conditions of…

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