2022 has been an exciting year for us at African Bush Camps Foundation with the return to travel and easing of the lock down restrictions earlier this year, finally allowed us to get back into full swing in the communities that we support. After a long 24 month of slowing down, schools being closed, online learning and vulnerable community going unsupported as a result of limited access to movement and travel, it has been so rewarded to get our boots back on the ground and seeing our projects up and running again.
This year we were faced with a momentous task of rebuilding some of our old projects, getting learners back to school and starting new projects but it it has been a year full of progress and we believe that we have laid a solid foundation for the coming months for 2023. We remain committed to improve the livelihoods of communities surrounding our camps in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe through Community Empowerment, Education and Conversation projects and initiatives.
This year ABCF partnered with Go2Africa to support Maunga primary school as part of their Positive Impact Initiative. Through our collaborative efforts, we aim to alleviate the following challenges identified at the school: Improve the school pass rate, improve learning facilities, and increase the quality of education for learners in Zambia.
“I can clearly remember a special moment when I was invited to plant a tree for the opening of Thorntree River Lodge in June 2017. I can imagine how tall that tree has grown after all these years. At Go2Africa, we now have the privilege of planting a symbolic tree by partnering with the African Bush Camps Foundation in yet another of their inspiring efforts to uplift and empower a local school“.– Liesel van Zyl | Product Manager Go2Africa
We have made tremendous progress at the school over the past 12 months which including: building additional ablution blocks, fixing the root and step, building a dining shelter for the learners and renovating the kitchen.
The Vuche Vuche Basket Weaving Project aims to empower women from the local community through basket weaving. This year the Vuche Vuche project participated in cross-pollination training where they received training from a local basket weaving initiative in Botswana. The training aimed to assist the Vuche Vuche ladies to further develop and improve their craft and basket weaving skills. This training was a huge success with the ladies learning how to create new patterns and designs for the baskets as well as additional business skills that include managing finances and client services and engagements. We are excited about the growth of this project and are currently working hard to help them market and promote their work to local and internal tourists visiting the area. As part of our efforts to provide ongoing support to our community empowerment project, the Vuche Vuche baskets, Thandanani garments and Vukani jewellery are available for sale at our ABC camp trading posts.
The Mambanje community garden continues to support and feed 28 families in Mambanje. We installed drip irrigation to the garden this year to allow for adequate water flow to all of the bed in the garden and to promote the growth of the crops. We also conducted soil assessments and harvesting training with the community to assist them to make the best use of the garden by planting the correct seeds and crops that will grow in the soil and rain conditions that are prevalent in the area. These improvements will go a long way towards assisting this garden to increase the quantity of produce harvested, thus allowing the community to sell these commercially.
Human-Wildlife conflict and co-existing with wildlife remains a critical part of our conservation efforts because the balance between protecting livestock and the livelihoods of the community while protecting wildlife from poaching remains the key to advancing our conservation efforts in the national park.
We have completed the freezer storage project in Mana pools which will allow us to continue to provide meat rations to 80 rangers and their families in the area. Our ranger ration program currently supplies 1080 kg of beef meat to the community every month. This project aims to reduce wildlife poaching in the national park which is on the increase as many of the community will turn to poaching wildlife to feed their families. The freezer storage which is powered by solar power will store the meat supply that is distributed to rangers monthly.
This project is going a long way towards increasing the wildlife population in the area.
Our female guides program has playing a vital role in creating safari guiding opportunities for females in Botswana. Following the successful launch of cohort 1 of the program in November 2022, we commences cohort 2 in July this year with 3 new females joining the program. We have partners with our trade partner Butterfield & Robinson who will be sponsoring 2 female guides for the next 3 years. The guides are currently on rotation in our camps in Botswana where they are learning guiding as well Mokoro training under the supervision and guidance of our head guides. This new intake of female guides is edging us closer to our goal of having 25 female guides by 2025.
On the 24nd of October 2022 we hosted the first Females in Safari event at our Thorntree River Lodge in Zambia in partnership with our trading partner Elevate Destinations. Elevate Destinations focuses on driving benefit to destinations by encouraging visitors to connect and invest in the places where they travel. Females in Safari is a platform that showcases female empowerment in our business and in the tourism industry. We hosted a career day for high school girls from Zambia. They spent the day with us in our camp learning about the various career opportunities available in the safari industry and learning from the amazing women that run our camps what it takes to be a dynamic women in the male dominated safari industry.
This year we hosted our first ABCF Active Day to raise funds for our Education, Community Empower and Conservation projects in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. Our Camp, staff and guests from all over the world got active for 30 minutes to raise funds for ABCF. The active day took place on the 14 of May with events running in Cape Town, Johannesburg and at our camps in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. The funds raised through this event went towards the Maunga Clinic, Kachikau Primary School Disability Unit, and the Ranger Program projects.
The CECT soccer tournament is an annual sporting event hosted in the Chobe region in Botswana which brings together primary school learners from five villages in the area to participate in a fun-filled day of sports. The main objective of this event was to create a platform to inspire the youth in Botswana through sports and fitness. There were over 200 spectators including parents, the local community, community leaders, and students from Kachikau Primary School and the disability unit at the school that ABCF supports. The local Chief came out to support the young soccer stars and took part in the prize-giving and medal handover to all the kids, coaches and the “man of the match” from each team.
The event was a great success and the atmosphere during the matches was electrifying. It was overwhelming to see the community’s support and generous donors who went above and beyond to make this event a success. FNB Botswana generously donated stationary packs to the learners who participated in the event and Sea Pride foods, one of our local vendors in Botswana, donated all the food and refreshments for the event. This year, the ladies from Vuche Vuche supported the CECT soccer tournament by providing catering service. It was important for ABCF to incorporate the projects that we actively support in the Chobe Region as part of our efforts to mobilize and uplift the schools in the area.
Many of our schools in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana face a shortage of learning materials with 5 learners sharing one textbook at a time and some children being sent home from school because they don’t have stationery to use in class for learning.
We recognise the importance and urgency in providing learners with access to quality education and ensuring that they have the tools and resources that they need at school to enable them to learn without any barriers or hinderances.
This year, we ran a stationery drive to raise 1000 stationery packs for our learners in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana for the 2023 academic year, to ensure that no child gets left behind.
The packs raised will be distributed to the 5 schools we support in 2023, to ensure that no child gets left behind.