Our story

Tshemba started when South African born founder, Neil Tabatznik, visited a game lodge in the Hoedspruit area. He was on a game drive when a ranger asked him to build a school for his children. At the time, the community already built a room and found a headmaster, but it was nowhere near a proper school.

After Neil built the school, which is flourishing, he sat down with the area Chief to find out how else he can help. A clinic, the Chief responded.

During the research to build a clinic, it became apparent that the infrastructure was partly in place. They visited a beautiful clinic with full, yet unused, dental suites – there were no dentists.

“It’s the most tragic thing; when someone gets sick and dies of something that, if it had been in an urban area, the thought would not have occurred to anybody that their lives might be at risk,” says Neil.

And so, the Tshemba Foundation, a refuge for doctors, a volunteering programme like no other, was built.

Tshemba was built for doctors who have a wealth of knowledge and experience; this is their chance to give back. We built this stunningly beautiful and comfortable lodge in a big five conservation area where doctors can safely rest, relax and take in the peaceful wonders around them.

Our idea is to provide doctors with a refuge after they’ve spent the day working in gruelling and obstacle-ridden conditions.

The Tshemba Foundation is not only about servicing less-fortunate people in dire need of medical attention, but also about helping doctors find their love for medicine again and pass their legacies on to the next generation.

Since the start of the Tshemba Foundation, we’ve seen the following benefits:

  • The patients receive the medical care they need and deserve in a timely fashion.

  • The local medical professionals are being upskilled and able to treat their patients more successfully.

  • The volunteers’ lives are enriched by the beautiful experiences they have here.

  • The community is growing due to the economic surge from the increased tourism.

  • Much needed equipment that would ordinarily not have been available has been donated to the hospital and clinic.

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Our mission

We aim to significantly enhance the professional skills available to less-fortunate people in dire need of healthcare. Our hope is that by drawing in skilled medical professionals, we can also ensure the transference of knowledge to the local healthcare providers.

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Meet ouR people

Meet the extraordinary people responsible for keeping the Tshemba Foundation’s wheels turning.


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Name:   Barbara McGorian

Designation/Role at Tshemba:   Director

Why do you do what you do?

After having worked almost all of my adult life in the corporate sector, focussing on bottom lines, the opportunity to work in a truly philanthropic environment without any hidden business agendas is inspiring and refreshing. Everything we do is for the good of the community, and the outcomes are tangible. 

Why Tshemba?

It’s a new foundation with a wonderful mix of people helping under-resourced communities while at the same time offering an inspiring and unique experience for the doctors who volunteer.

Favourite Tshemba Foundation moment?

Seeing the pure excitement and adrenaline rush on the doctors’ faces when a pack of wild dogs chased an Inyala through our camp.


Changing lives, including your own.

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Name: Katherine Mathias 

Designation/Role at Tshemba: Lodge Manager

Why do you do what you do? 

The greater good for all is a very strong value that’s been passed down through my family lineage and one that I wish to carry forward in all that I do. I pay this attribute mostly to my Ouma, Anna Mathias, who gave all of herself to those who required help. Her work as a physiotherapist here in South Africa gave her the opportunity to contribute to those who needed it the most, and she left a mark on all that knew her; this is why I do what I do. 

Why Tshemba?

The combination of assisting medical professionals while situated in the bushveld alongside the animals is a perfect combination of purpose and lifestyle. 

Favourite Tshemba Foundation moment?

It was when Dr Kate Meyer and I had our first braai (bbq) together with a few of the new volunteers at the Boma. Dr Kate Meyer, having been the first volunteer here at Tshemba, far exceeded our expectations of what a volunteer would be like through her workmanship, flexibility and conscious attitude.

All the volunteers here at Tshemba, thus far, have been exceptional people with different capabilities and an undeniable essence of true care and understanding of the work that they do. We are very privileged to have such magnificent medical practitioners here. 


Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. - Rumi


Name: Lexi Cohen

Designation/Role at Tshemba: Project Specialist

Why do you do what you do? Changing the lives of people is heart fulfilling and it’s wonderful to be a part of.

Why Tshemba? I have always loved the bushveld environment and the fact that one can make a change in the rural community, as well as enjoy the serenity at the same time, is fulfilling. I am grateful for this opportunity to work with passionate humanitarians.

Motto: If you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen.