Project wendy

Video Playlist
1/2 videos
Give Back to Communities Around You | Project Wendy
Give Back to Communities Around You | Project Wendy
Project Wendy Promo
Project Wendy Promo

Project Wendy is a practical way to really get people’s ideas and viewpoints on your current mission or vision and then define and agree on the values and behaviours that are needed to achieve your strategic intent.

Your team will experience what it is like to plan, build and deliver a high-quality Wendy House to an organisation in need. You can build one or 20 at a time.

Instead of being spoilt at a conference venue and spending money on the bar bill, many of our clients approach us to apply their budget in a way that really makes a difference to the community.

In the past few years of running this service we have, with the help of our clients, changed the lives of school children, entrepreneurs, clinic teams, drug rehab centre administrators and orphanages.

The various Wendy’s have been donated to a range of charities and communities. The reality is that we could run this product full time and still not serve the need that exists.

mandela day

Video Playlist
1/3 videos
The Big Ears Trust | Celebrating Mandela Day & Elephants
The Big Ears Trust | Celebrating Mandela Day & Elephants
Mandela Day 2015  The World in Union
Mandela Day 2015 The World in Union
Our Legacy begins here! Mandela Day Project Wendy 2014
Our Legacy begins here! Mandela Day Project Wendy 2014

project fido

PROJECT FIDO is a new initiative aimed at providing shelter for less fortunate canines... Teams are tasked with constructing aesthetic dog kennels which are later donated to deserving pet owners who otherwise cannot afford to house their four- legged creatures adequately, or to a suitable charity of your choice.

PROJECT FIDO is ideal to bring teams together and can also be done as a meaningful community project which will work for you and your people.

The entire process is facilitated by Elephants in Main Street® facilitators and the project is not only rewarding for team delegates but the different pet owners receiving the kennels afterwards are eternally grateful.

The kennels are decorated by the delegates. From abstract painted walls to cute doggy pictures placed on the inside walls of the kennels – the choice is yours!

PROJECT FIDO will involve everyone in your team and does not exclude people by virtue of age, fitness or gender. It encourages both competition and co-operation in the pursuit of a common goal.

containers of hope

With CONTAINERS OF HOPE we have your people learn how to make and sell very unusual, innovative, quality items like handbags, garments and other useful items from magazines, newspapers and everyday materials.

We help the, set up a containers fully equipped with merchandising shelves, racks, cash registers, generators, lights, sound and promotional material and then stock it with 200 custom made high quality products. 

The core idea would be to have a group of people makeover the container, design the flow and visual marketing pack and stock it with product to sell. This hands on collaboration provides community of interested entrepreneurs with a container, store and stock. Ready to trade and earn a living.

Help others kick start their future with CONTAINERS OF HOPE, today!

the big ears trust

Video Playlist
1/5 videos
The Big Ears Trust | Celebrating Mandela Day & Elephants
The Big Ears Trust | Celebrating Mandela Day & Elephants
Big Ears Trust | St Vincent @ Cradle Moon
Big Ears Trust | St Vincent @ Cradle Moon
New Year, New Connection | St Vincent School for the Deaf
New Year, New Connection | St Vincent School for the Deaf
Talent Maximiser at St Vincent School For The Deaf
Talent Maximiser at St Vincent School For The Deaf
Stephen Blades at St Vincent School For The Deaf
Stephen Blades at St Vincent School For The Deaf

have you heard of the big ears trust?

The Big Ears Trust, is a non-profit voluntary association formed by Stephen Blades, the CEO of Elephants in Main Street International.

The Big Ears Trust has been formed to improve the lives of people who suffer from some sort of hearing disability. It aims to equip children and adults with the technology, the skills and the support to be able to lead full lives where they can be productive, happy and contribute to the society they operate in. In 2020, our goal is to provide 20 hearing aid sets for 20 children in need. So in other words, change the lives of 20 children in South Africa who don’t have access to hearing aids.

At Elephants in Main Street International, we have been helping teams and leaders achieve their goals for over two decades around the world. We have partnered with the St Vincent School for the deaf and have been coaching and training their management team and staff. Our turning point interventions are designed to unlock passion, raise enthusiasm and increase levels of knowledge, understanding and ultimately the ability to apply and produce.

The second purpose of the Big Ears Trust, is a conservation objective and in fact it is also a human objective. And that is to help protect and support the continued existence and survival of elephants on this planet.

Stephen is well respected as a coach and change management consultant and has the ability to engage the hearts and minds of people from the shop floor right the way up to the board. His experience spans nearly three decades and is leveraged when orgnisations need to address unique, complex and sensitive political, social and cross cultural interfaces with care and respect, and unlock understanding and cooperation in teams. He raises the ability of people he works with to solve problems rather than dramatise them.

Stephen is hearing impaired himself, here is his story.

I haven’t always been hearing impaired. I used to have perfect hearing. I could hear a pin drop. Some people lose their hearing because of poor awareness on how to care for their ears in specific environments, others lose it as a result of an accident or disease. My story starts with Chicken pox.

The thing in life that I love most is to listen to others. To be able to share their world and experiences brings me great joy. I have actually learned to help people do better in life by listening to them.

What does it mean to not hear? Some of us are born without the ability to hear, others lose all or some it along the path of life. For me, loss of hearing has meant so many things. As an entrepreneur it posed a challenge for me being able to recognise opportunities and risks, as a coach it affected my ability to listen and help people and as father and husband it impacted heavily on my ability to interact with and care for my family.

When you can’t hear, people talk around you, you get excluded, people chose for you, you have to work constantly to be relevant and remind people of your disability and ask them to adjust their engagement with you. You don’t hear the birds, the breath of another, the sound of an alarm, a rattle in the car.

Sound and the ability to perceive and interpret it is an essential part of the survival of most living creatures. We learn through listening.

I am often amused by others who when I tell them that I am hearing impaired and observe that they respond by speaking even more softly as if their voices would hurt me.

Then there are people who raise their voices but change their tone and speak to you as if you are somehow inferior, incapable of performing, incompetent, incorrect or get annoyed when they are asked to repeat themselves. The list of experiences goes on to include watching others become self-conscious, embarrassed or uncomfortable. I have even been laughed at and criticised. Losing your hearing certainly develops empathy, builds character and bolsters the appreciation of how fortunate people are who have all the senses intact.

For many the stigma of wearing hearing aids is a problem. Many men have come over to me over the years and privately confessed that they can’t hear in one ear or are suffering from hearing loss but don’t want to be perceived as weak or unable to perform. Many say that wearing a hearing aid makes them feel like an old man. They have this idea that they have failed. And they suffer in their silence.

For the active individuals who swim, run or cycle or do some outdoor activity, there is a risk of losing your hearing aids. I have lost several pairs. They are expensive and the chances of owning a good pair of hearing aids is slim for most people. Medical aids don’t cover the full costs in many cases.

Going out into public can be hell at times. Noisy restaurants and places are either too loud or force you to remove your hearing aids or leave. Movies, TV, ordering something on the phone or dealing with a lot conference call all add aggravation.

Many people are overwhelmed. They simply can’t confront the loss and withdraw emotionally. Often people tell me about depression, anxiety and anger that sits within them as a result of their conduction.

I often rely on others for accurate interpretation. I listen incredibly well and observe that others miss things when they listen which makes it interesting when one asks for help.

I take personal pride in getting things right. When you can’t hear you make mistakes with people’s names or miss something. This has all sorts of consequences that have to be handled.

What delights me most is listening to my family. Then on a personal level I love music. I love the sound of nature. The sounds of being out in bush and hearing the streams or wind through the trees.

I have come to realise that millions of people around the world suffer, and will suffer similar experiences to what I have.

On my journey in life, I have learned many coping skills to overcome these challenges. My skills, my life, my family, my team and my personality have helped me confront and deal with the situation I face.

I am wired to turn crisis into opportunity. I make beating a disability, a game.

I realise however that others may not be as fortunate and it is for this reason that I formed the Big Ears Trust.

One of our first projects is to work with the St. Vincent School for the Deaf in Johannesburg. This project is the beginning of a story in which we raise awareness and access to opportunities for the students and staff.

Ingrid Parkin, the Principal, gives us an insight into the school – The St Vincent School has been educating deaf children for 83 years this year. More than 2000 deaf people have come through St Vincent School and many have gone on to become very successful adults. St Vincent School is the only school for the deaf in the greater Johannesburg area and accept children as young as 2 years old in order for them to begin their learning experience as young as possible.

Most deaf children are born to hearing parents who have never before met a deaf person. This means that there are huge communication barriers within the family that are often never overcome. Successful learning depends on early language acquisition and for most deaf children early language acquisition does not happen, therefore, when they arrive at school, they present with language delays which impacts negatively on schooling and learning in general.

It is important that we strive to achieve excellence in deaf education and always aim at providing everything possible in order for deaf children to reach their full potential and go on to become successful and productive members of society that is their human right.

All these services certainly do not come cheap. 80% of our parents are not able to afford school fees and live well below the poverty level.

One important aspect of Deaf children, teenagers and adults’ lives that the school has recently ventured into is the realm of mental health and deafness. Mental and emotional health, in general, and especially in education programmes, is a topic that is largely underestimated, ignored and seen as a privilege / luxury only for those who can afford it. Gaining access to mental and emotional health services is very expensive, especially given that successful outcomes depend on months and even years of ongoing treatment. Children in South Africa grow up experiencing different kinds of trauma to varying degrees: crime, violence, the effects of poverty and abuse are but a few examples. Access to services that allow young children to heal and process trauma is minimal and the subsequent emotional and mental effects remain untreated and cannot heal, thus resulting in, for example, depression, inability to focus and personality / behaviour disorders. The education system then has to deal with these results for which it is not equipped and the effects on children’s educational careers is very negative as these resultant conditions create barriers to learning. For the privileged few who have access to mental and emotional health services, the picture is less grim.

Now, considering the situation of deaf children of whom 90% are born to hearing parents who have never met a deaf person before, a picture emerges that looks even worse than the circumstances described above. Parents, finding out that their child is disabled, are also traumatised and do not know how to deal with this disabled child. The family bond and support is thus weakened from the moment the disability is diagnosed. Raising a deaf child with no guidance, counselling or role models has far-reaching negative impacts on the parents and the deaf child that remain for a lifetime. Deaf children grow up unable to communicate with their parents because most parents do not learn South African Sign Language. This alone has a devastating emotional and mental health impact that has far reaching consequences on a deaf child’s education and career. It could be argued that the emotional and mental health consequences for a deaf child, if left untreated, actually, in many cases, end up becoming the primary barrier to learning / disability and not the deafness itself.

Furthermore if a deaf child or teenager or adult wished to use mental health professionals, this would be virtually impossible anywhere in South Africa as there are only 3 qualified psychologists in the country that know South African Sign Language.

As an education institution whose core business is educating deaf children so that they leave with an education or skill that enables them to become productive members of society, we saw the desperate need to create accessible mental and emotional health services for our learners, the deaf community and deaf learners from other schools for the deaf in Gauteng. The model is based on the idea of having psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists and counsellors who are proficient in South African Sign Language available under 1 roof to serve the mental health needs to deaf people free of charge.

We are very proud to have partnered with Elephants on Main Street. They have been focusing on building a strong management team and this came at the right time when the management team was looking for new ways in which to consolidate as a team and attain clear thinking on the way forward. Our interactions thus far have been highly successful and rewarding. There is great value in continued sessions that build upon each other as opposed to a once-off team-building session. We have also had a session that involved the entire school in a fun and interactive way but also in a way that was incredibly meaningful as staff got to get to know other staff from different departments – we are all equally important with different roles to fulfil. We hope that this continued partnership will grow from strength to strength as we strive to be the best role model for our kids.

Join us. Join the herd. Allow others to hear and be heard. Help us build a better, more inclusive and more productive society.

If you or your organisation would like to get involved in this worthy initiative, please contact us at


We are dedicated to broadening the base of ownership of the economy as a social, political and economic imperative. Our own broad based black economic empowerment program encompasses equity ownership, procurement, skills development, management and social investment. 

We have an ongoing strategy whereby top performing employees become shareholders in our company which enables everyone who performs and contributes to the success of the organisation to be able to share in the financial rewards of delivering great services to our clients.

Further we have dedicated divisions within out organisation which are designed to provide each and every member of the group with critical job enrichment and advanced skills so as to ensure they are eligible for new appointments that emerge in South Africa as well as in our newer operations internationally. 

As entrepreneurs we believe in scanning the environment for opportunities to improve our country and its people. To this end we have committed ourselves to a number of communities in Gauteng, North West and Eastern Cape. We have trained people in core life skills ranging from how to read, study and communicate right the way through to how to make their own training videos. 

In 2005, we started up a group within Elephants called Utajiju Training. Utajiju means “see for yourself”.

We have formed an enterprise development initiative under this banner and have invested in helping this group of fellow entrepreneurs manage the logistics and communication requirements of our organisation. 

Our strategy in the coming years will be to help this group extend these services to your clients. We invite you to join us on this journey.