Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Children in the Wilderness (CITW), Wilderness Safaris’ non-profit partner, has embarked on a mission to support rural communities in the Zambezi region, through the provision of food relief, hygiene products as well as educational assistance in the form of student allowances. Valued at USD31 600, the support has impacted an average of 4 200 people in 18 villages.
“COVID-19 has affected everyone in the world and calls for us to collectively assist our neighbouring, and most vulnerable, communities. With our long-standing partnership with these communities, we didn’t hesitate to assist in any way possible. While we realise that there is still a long way to go in combating the challenges of the pandemic, we also acknowledge that a little can go a long way. We will continue working with CITW to support our communities during this difficult time”, says Dean Morton, Wilderness Safaris Zambezi Operations Manager.
Of the total amount spent in supporting communities, USD27 000 has been used to help mitigate food shortages. The CITW team organised 300 packets of vegetable seeds for the villages of Ngamo, Mtshayeli, Mlevu, Kapane, Jakalasi, Mpindo, Sipepa, and Matupula in Tsholotsho, near Hwange National Park. Wilderness Safaris aided with the transportation of the goods during a resupply trip to their camps in the national park. In addition to this, food donations of various types of flour from Wilderness Safaris were made to those in need in Victoria Falls. The CITW team is also in the process of distributing food packs to 350 families in Lukosi Village, Tsholotsho and Victoria Falls.
In an effort to make sure that food supply will continue for as long as possible, CITW ordered two tons of nutritious porridge, which will be used at schools when they open. They also provided the necessary funding to convert the Lukosi Clinic garden borehole from an electrical to a solar system. Given power cut challenges in the area, the solar system will ensure a much-needed consistent water supply for the vegetable garden.
Furthermore, 2 000 face masks were procured from local sewing groups in Victoria Falls and distributed to those in need in Zimbabwe. These include staff from ZimParks and Immigration, to elderly people, and students who need the masks for schools’ re-opening. A further 840 face masks have been bought from a local sewing group in Livingstone and distributed to Zambian schools. This is in addition to 30 blankets donated to the Victoria Falls Task Force Isolation Centre, as well as school Tippy Tap materials, including soaps, containers and strings. A Tippy Tap is a simple, easily constructed, hands-free method of washing hands, which is especially convenient in rural areas.
As education forms an important component of CITW, USD1 100 of the total donations was spent in providing the necessary food and data allowances for tertiary students during the lockdown period. This has enabled the children to focus on their school work, rather than the issues hindering their doing so.
“The beneficiaries of these donations have been extremely grateful. Our heartfelt thanks go to our donors who joined us in making a positive difference to these communities. With tourism being a predominant source of income in these villages, the challenges brought about by the pandemic have been particularly difficult and motivated us to raise the crucial funds that would help particularly vulnerable families. We have made significant progress and are determined to continue helping our most valued stakeholders, the communities”, notes Sue Goatley, Children in the Wilderness Zambezi Programme Coordinator.