The Children in the Wilderness programme operates in 7 African countries through the support of Wilderness Safaris.
'Children in the Wilderness’ is such a beautifully simple concept with high impact that I could not resist writing about what I learnt from its co-ordinators in Botswana (see post). The Children in the Wilderness programme operates in 7 African countries through the support of Wilderness Safaris who believe that education is fundamental to their core goal of conservation. It offers poor and vulnerable children a week-long camp in pristine wilderness areas in which to learn about their natural environment and cultural heritage. Nothing complex there, but what is it about this experience that works magic for its young participants and local camp leaders? In Malawi I was able to meet three men directly involved in the program.
Curious to hear a first-hand account of the Children in the Wilderness programme, I quickly seized an opportunity to chat with three Malawians involved in Children in the Wilderness in the breath-taking Liwonde National Park. Eager to tell, Henry, Duncan and Danford took me to the riverside ‘classroom’, a shady wooden shelter surrounded by birdsong, a frog chorus and friendly boat maintenance.
Listen to the audio for insights as to why this programme works so well.
Danford Manda (left) was invited on a Children in the Wilderness camp as a teenager in 2007. He now works at Wilderness Safari’s prestigious Mvuu Camp and is proud to be training as a safari guide. Duncan Mhango is a passionate conservationist who works as a guide at Mvuu lodge. He thrives on taking children into the bush and watching them grasp the intricacies of its ecology.
Henry Matinga (left), a long-serving Wilderness guide, heard about a Children in the Wilderness camp that took place while he was on leave, and immediately volunteered to assist with subsequent camps. He is now a senior leader and mentor to the children who camp at Mvuu Lodge each year. An orphan himself, he quickly bonds with new campers and knows how to bolster their self-esteem, build resilience and develop leadership skills – the three core aims of Children in the Wilderness. For more information or advice on donations, please contact: Symon Chibaka Tel: +265 9 669 369 or use the contact form below.
Author: Rachel Bray
Published Date: 16 Jun 2010
Location: East Africa | Malawi
Themes: natural world, society | education, conservation, social development