October 2019 – Wilderness Safaris’ non-profit environmental and life-skills programme, Children in the Wilderness (CITW), launched its inaugural all-girls YES (Youth Environmental Stewardship) Enterprise Camp at Victoria Falls Rest Camp in Zimbabwe recently. Funded by the International Centre of Excellence for Community Schools, the camp brought together 17 Form 3 pupils from Kapane, Ngamo, and Sipepa secondary schools to enjoy the fun-filled and educational four-day programme.
“We are proud to have launched a camp aimed at uplifting young women. We made the learning process as practical as possible by inviting female speakers and facilitating immersive environmental activities – the learners were beaming with excitement. It is important that young women believe in themselves and their capabilities, and understand that they too have an important role to play in the conservation of the country’s untouched wilderness areas, which continue to positively impact local economies”, says Sue Goatley, CITW Zambezi Programme Coordinator.
While the primary focus of the camp was on environmental education, life skills, business and enterprise in communities, great emphasis was placed on women. By talking about their personal life journeys, Barbara Murasiranwa and Prudence Chinyemba motivated the learners and showed them that with passion and determination anything is possible. Barbara is a successful businesswoman based in Victoria Falls, and Prudence works as a Wilderness Air flight dispatcher while she fits in some flying time in her quest to attain her commercial pilot’s license.
“On the last day of the camp, our girls teamed up with 12 students from The Traveling School, an organisation based in the United States that aims to empower teenage girls by providing them with an overseas high school semester of experiential learning. It was such a pleasure watching the girls take advantage of the opportunity and make the best of the time they had together, as both groups had much to teach and learn from each other. We hope to facilitate more camps where women take centre stage and are equipped with knowledge to help them succeed and change perspectives in environmental conservation”, notes Sue.
The CITW YES programme started in Botswana in 2012 and is now active in six African countries. It was designed to cater for learners who display exceptional potential and commitment to environmental conservation when participating in the CITW Eco-Clubs and annual camps. The groups are smaller in size, allowing for focused work groups and increased participation. Hosting an average of 330 learners per year, in 2018, CITW hosted 582 pupils with 60 teachers in a total of 29 YES camps. A number of the participants are now mentors or working in ecotourism, passing on important environmental teachings they received from the YES Clubs to inspire positive change.