COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
As previously discussed, one of the key aspects of creating a lasting legacy of conservation in a region is to ensure the local community not only understands the objectives/benefits and how they are obtained but are actually receiving them. Through the Time + Tide Foundation, we are able to conduct several excellent programmes that support education, girls’ empowerment and disabled children. Across all three destinations (South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Liuwa Plain National Parks), we support schools, including funding the teaching staff and acquisition of appropriate schooling materials and lesson plans. In addition, we also provide scholarships for promising students to attend that may not otherwise be able to due to financial or familial reasons.
In the South Luangwa, we operate a home-based education programme that works with disabled children and their families or caregivers to provide specialised training in physiotherapy, the biological and environmental determinants of disabilities and the best way to structure individualised education plans. The ultimate goal is for all children to be fully integrated into a standard primary school within three years of entering the programme. Not only does this benefit individual children, it also lays a foundation for future disabled children to be better accepted and incorporated into society by removing stigma and taboos. For instance, prior to the programme 77% of volunteer caregivers attributed disabilities to witchcraft. After two years of participating, 92% were able to explain the biological causes of disabilities and 0% cited witchcraft as a cause. All children involved in the programme showed marked improvement in their ability to complete tasks that will benefit them in education and life, including self-feeding, dressing, walking, grasping objects, speaking, playing with others, communicating needs, understanding others and remembering information.
Female empowerment is also an important cause to create a lasting improvement in communities. Countless studies have demonstrated that educating and supporting women dramatically improves the welfare of an entire nation by improving health, family planning and economic development. In the South Luangwa, the Time + Tide Foundation operates the Yosefe Girls’ Club, which aims to foster academic advancement, increase their acceptance rates into secondary school and improve their self-esteem. We design activities and programmes to help them gain a sense of self and recognise their strengths, abilities and values as young women. We work with them to improve their English language skills, create consciousness around gender related topics, make informed decisions about healthy living, and provide them with safe space to express their opinions, feelings and ideas. Through their involvement with the Yosefe Girls’ Club, we hope that the next generation of women will help drive the development of their own communities.
Beyond our work with the Time + Tide Foundation, many in the local community find excellent employment by working in our camps or as a part of our operations team. Offering jobs ranging from safari guide and chef to mechanic and gardener, there are countless opportunities afforded to both men and women. Several have transitioned from their education in our schools into our employment as adults. Providing high quality employment that allows them to support their families and pay their children’s school fees helps reduce the likelihood that they would turn to jobs that exploit the region’s natural resources rather than protect them, such as illegal fishing or poaching.
The best part of it all is that it’s the best value time of year to experience a world class safari. The rates are lower, the crowds are fewer and the temperatures are pleasingly mild. Don’t let this incredibly special time of year pass you by. The road less travelled offers so much more, come and let us show you…