Children in the Wilderness Namibia

Children in the Wilderness Namibia

Namibia
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Children in the Wilderness is a program that bridges the divide that exists between communities and wildlife and focuses on the next generation. Through these programmes we teach the children about the importance of conservation and strive to instill a passion for the environment so that they become the custodians of these areas in the future.

Children in the Wilderness has created a network of learning sanctuaries that uplifts, conserves and cares for our children and our planet. Every year Wilderness Safaris Namibia close the doors of some of its lodges to paying guests and open them for the exclusive use of its young VIPs! Children from all over Namibia as well as the communities neighboring the areas in which Wilderness Safaris operates are invited to participate in the 6 day program that focuses on conservation issues, wildlife activities and HIV/AIDS. The Namibia program utilizes the unique location of its camps to teach the children about the wonderfully diverse country in which they live. Highlights from these locations include tracking the rare and endangered desert adapted black rhino and visiting some of the world’s biggest sand dunes at the unforgettable Sossusvlei.

Your idea
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Street Address

Schinz St

City

Windhoek

State/Province
Postal/Zip Code
Country
Year innovation began

2002

Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of benefit to the people of the desitination

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Indicate sector in which you principally work

Tourism-related business

Geographic location

Desert.

Plot your innovation within the Mosaic of Solutions
Main barrier addressed

Lack of local input

Main insight addressed

Education through hands-on experience

Innovation
What is the goal of your innovation?

Strengthen Children in the Wilderness Namibia to Continue to Build a Legacy of Eco-Tourism, Conservation and Environmental Education

How does your approach support or embody geotourism?

It is the belief of Wilderness Safaris (WS) that “The world’s wilderness areas will save humankind.” The challenge that we face is that Africa’s wildlife areas are under severe pressure and the areas in which we operate are some of the planet’s more sensitive and fragile environmental hotspots.

Wilderness Safaris embodies geotourism by operating its Children in the Wilderness (CITW) program. Wilderness Safaris believes in protecting Namibia’s wilderness areas by encouraging a new generation of guardians for this unique heritage.
Children in the Wilderness believe that to protect these areas we need the help of the communities that live on their peripheries. One of our objectives is to “teach them young” – getting the youngest members of the community involved and educating them on the importance of protecting the fragile environment in which we all live.

Children in the Wilderness is a successful program that bridges the divide that exists between communities and wildlife and focuses on the next generation. Through these programs we teach the children about the importance of conservation and strive to instill a passion for the environment so that they become the custodians of these areas in the future.

Describe your approach in detail. How is it innovative?

Children in the Wilderness has created a network of learning sanctuaries that uplifts, conserves and cares for our children and our planet. For 4 weeks each year, Wilderness Safaris closes some of its camps to paying guests, and invites groups of 24 vulnerable children (between the ages of 10 and 18) to participate in a 6 day camp experience.

Through a nurturing and safe environment Children in the Wilderness helps the children to explore topics such as the environment and conservation to inspire them in a life long passion for their natural environment. The children participate in wildlife activities, game drives and walking safaris learning about environmental management, the geography and geology of the area and eco-tourism -specifically the importance of these wilderness areas to the local communities and the country. Staff members pulled from the ranks of Wilderness Safaris act as positive role models for the campers, they also increase the children’s awareness about careers in the tourism industry. We believe that by exposing the youth of Namibia to their wildlife heritage, combined with a positive learning experience, this program will help to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of wildlife and the environment around them, while also building their self-esteem.

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

To strengthen Children in the Wilderness we would like to build the capacity of the follow-up program. The follow up program is designed to develop on the learning experience of camp, to continue supporting the children in their communities and reinforcing the messages they have learnt on camp. We would to partner with colleges, vocational training centers and businesses to be able to offer the children internships, bursaries and training courses to help them achieve a future in their chosen career. Children in the Wilderness recognizes the importance of ongoing education and follow-up once the groundwork has been laid.

Impact
In one sentence describe what kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

The children are inspired with a life long passion for the environment and critically threatened environments are conserved.

Describe the degree of success of your approach to date. Clearly define how you measure quantitative and qualitative impact in terms of how your approach contributes to the sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How does your approach minimize negative impacts? 200 words or less

Children in the Wilderness has changed the lives of the children dramatically and positively. One of the biggest thrills we experience is to see many of these youngsters, who had dropped out of school prior to the camp, returning to school on their return home. Conservation clubs have been started in the communities, in many instances linking in with the local schools to ensure sustainability. There has been an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the children, their families, communities and teachers. Already young people who have gone through the program over the years are aiming at becoming the next generation of environmentalists, conservationists or safari guides, which in turn will help the long-term preservation of Africa’s wildlife heritage. Our approach minimizes negative impacts by empowering the children to believe in their own future and the future of their natural world. By using the environment and conservation we build their self esteem and inspire the children to strive to achieve their utmost potential.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

Wilderness Safaris guests are informed of the work that CITW does by a number of newsletters and brochures available in the lodges. Staff members who are involved in the camps also talk to them and participate in ‘camp chats’ in the evenings around the camp fire. Guests are able to get involved with CITW by giving a donation to the program and leaving their contact details so they can be keep informed by regular newsletters. CITW shows the guests that Wilderness Safaris is committed to the future of the country and the future of its children.

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your innovation, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

The children from the communities surrounding the wilderness areas in which Wilderness Safaris operates are selected to attend the camps. Community leaders such as local teachers form a committee in which they select the most vulnerable children to attend camp. A chaperone from the community accompanies the kids and will then take part in training whilst at camp so that they can act as the link between the community and Children in the Wilderness for follow up activities. The feedback received from the communities are full of enthusiasm for the program and the difference we make to the children’s lives.

Describe how your innovation helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area’s cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues. How do you motivate them to act responsibly in their future travel decisions?

Children in the Wilderness select children from communities in the areas surrounding WS lodges. The children who attend the camps are educated about environmental education and conservation in fun, interactive and energetic ways. Through this approach the children remember the main messages and take these back to their communities to educate their families and friends.

Guests of Wilderness Safaris are informed of the work WS does in terms of CITW and the conservation work of Wilderness Trust. We hope that by seeing the work that Wilderness Safaris does for conservation encourages them to think responsible when booking their next trip.

Sustainability
Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? What is the potential demand for your innovation?

Children in the Wilderness is a not-for-gain association partnered by Wilderness Safaris. It is in a very strong position organizationally with the support from its main partner WS. Financially WS contribute the use of the lodges for over 4 weeks a year to the programme, during this time the lodges are closed to paying guests.

CITW is also reliant on cash donations throughout the year to run the camps, these come from local businesses, the Wilderness Trust and guests of Wilderness Safaris. CITW is also in need of a substantial donation in order to strengthen the follow up programme.

How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

CITW is currently financed through:

1. Contributions ‘in kind’ to the camps such as car hire, camping equipment, food etc.
2. Wilderness Safaris donates the use of the camps, the salary of the CITW General Manager, office space and general administration costs, permits and park fees and insurance.
3. Cash donations from local businesses, guests of WS, the Wilderness Trust and fundraising events

Annual budget 2008/2009: US$ 132,000 Of this:

1. US$ 38,200 - donations ‘in kind’
2. US$ 47,000 - Wilderness Safaris (cash and kind)
3. US$ 46,800 - cash donations*

Annual Revenue Generated- In year ending Feb 2008 cash donations totaled: US$ 19,500
Size of full-time staff- 1 General Manager
Volunteer staff.- 15 (WS staff and other volunteers)

*This is incorporating increased capacity building for CITW follow up program hence the difference between the amount we need in cash donations to the amount received year ending Feb 2008

What is your plan to expand your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

To enable Children in the Wilderness to expand our approach we would like to build the capacity of the follow-up program. We would like a follow up program coordinator to regularly visit all the communities that have benefited from their children attending camps. On these outreach visits the coordinator would build on the learning experiences of camp and re-focus this to the environment surrounding the communities. By empowering the children to care about their surroundings CITW aims to make the learning the kids have achieved on camp sustainable and relevant to their own lives.

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

The biggest challenge to Children in the Wilderness is maintaining a long term relationship with the kids after camp. It is imperative to keep in touch with all of the children to enable the program to become sustainable, to evaluate its impact and continue the learning within the children’s communities. In these rural communities communication links are non existent for the children, once they move villages/ schools CITW sometimes loses touch with them. To expand the follow up program and have a coordinator regularly visiting these kids we would not only keep them focused on the conservation messages that they learnt on camp but would also enable the coordinator to find those kids who have moved and spread the messages to their new communities. It is also important to keep the chaperone/ contact person within the community trained and motivated in all aspects of the CITW program enabling them to be the children’s immediate point of contact and activity coordinator. In order to do this regular training workshops are needed for all the local CITW community contacts.

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell your story.

Children in the Wilderness was initiated after a visit by the actor Paul Newman, to Botswana in 2000. His organization, Association of Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, is dedicated to offering educational and recreational camps for children with life threatening conditions in America and Ireland. With their inspiration, Wilderness Safaris developed a similar program in Southern Africa although due to different context, activities focus on orphaned and vulnerable children in rural environments.

The program started in Botswana in 2001 and has been has been successfully implemented in the other southern African countries where Wilderness Safaris operates including Malawi, Namibia, the Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Children in the Wilderness Namibia conducted their first camps in 2002. Namibia has to date, coordinated 23 camps and taken over 500 children through the program.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

My name is Sarah Omura and I am the General Manager of CITW Namibia. I first volunteered for a CITW camp in 2004 soon after I came to Namibia as a VSO volunteer from the UK. The program really touched me and I was amazed to see the difference in the kids and how the program changed their lives. I regularly volunteered for camps over the next 3 years. The position of General Manager became available and I was lucky enough to get the job and feel honored to be able to continue changing children’s lives on a daily basis.

Please write an overview of your project. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the Google map located on the competition homepage.

Children in the Wilderness is a program that bridges the divide that exists between communities and wildlife and focuses on the next generation. Through these programmes we teach the children about the importance of conservation and strive to instill a passion for the environment so that they become the custodians of these areas in the future.

Children in the Wilderness has created a network of learning sanctuaries that uplifts, conserves and cares for our children and our planet. Every year Wilderness Safaris Namibia close the doors of some of its lodges to paying guests and open them for the exclusive use of its young VIPs! Children from all over Namibia as well as the communities neighboring the areas in which Wilderness Safaris operates are invited to participate in the 6 day program that focuses on conservation issues, wildlife activities and HIV/AIDS. The Namibia program utilizes the unique location of its camps to teach the children about the wonderfully diverse country in which they live. Highlights from these locations include tracking the rare and endangered desert adapted black rhino and visiting some of the world’s biggest sand dunes at the unforgettable Sossusvlei.