Children in the Wilderness

Children in the Wilderness

Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

This programme aims to increase the capacity of young Namibians to cope with life's challenges, to educate, inspire them to actualize their greatest potential.

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http://www.childrenin the

Plot your innovation within the mosaic of solutions
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Low self-value and stability leads to risky choices

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Create credible choices and opportunities

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

This field has not been completed

Describe your program or new idea in one sentence.

This programme aims to increase the capacity of young Namibians to cope with life's challenges, to educate, inspire them to actualize their greatest potential.

What makes your initiative uniquely positioned to create change in your community?

The programme is dedicated to helping children whose normal childhoods have been interupted and disrupted by poor health, poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, especially those who live in rural areas. We are able to expose these children to many new experiences and opportunities during the 6 day camp programme, one which will change their lives. We aim to restore these children with a sense of hope, purpose and the possibility of a bright future. We wish to increase the boys understanding and appreciation of the unique diversity of the natural environment as well as demonstrating to the youth of rural communities the opportunities that exist. We hope that the boys will take back to their communities the education they have learn't on camp and actively participate in a legacy of conservation that will impact the future of Namibia.

Describe how you organize and carry out your work?

Children in the Wilderness is a not-for-gain organisation that is a joint venture with Wilderness Safaris. We organise and facilitate at least four CITW camps at the lodges of Wilderness Safaris Namibia each year, each camp for a total of 24 children. The camps involve guided educational walks and drives, HIV/Aids education, creative crafts and writing, as well as leadership and team building activities. After camps we maintain a long-term relationship with the children in the follow-up programme.

What is your plan to scale and expand your innovation into your community and beyond?

We would like to expand our follow up programme. The follow up programme is an important part of the Children in the Wilderness programme. It is designed to build on the learning experience of camp, to continue supporting the boys to achieve the programme goals and to evaluate the impact of the programme. The project will involve all of the children and staff who participate in the initital camps. The focus will be mostly in the rural areas of Namibia, especially in the areas Wilderness Safaris operates. The follow up project has 3 main components; 1) Follow up camps where the boys are invited back on camp to build on the skills and knowledge gained from their previous experience, 2) follow up activities- development of materials and resources to continue the education begun on camp and 3) incentive programmes to focus on the individual interests of the boys and assist them to actualize their greatest potential through internships, bursaries, work placements and other opportunities.

What other resources, institutional, or policy needs would be necessary to help sustain and scale up your idea?

The main resources we need to be able to successfully run a follow up programme are: Follow up files for each boy in which to keep their Children in the Wilderness projects, monthly activity packets sent to each member of Children in the Wilderness- currently over 500. These packets will contain worksheets, exercises and information to continue the learning begun on camp and highlight topics such as HIV/AIDS, conservation, leadership qualitites etc.
In order to run a good follow up programme a database needs to be completed of all of the participants in order to keep track of their address, interests, school etc. Membership cards need to be provided and incentives for groups such as pencils, posters and stationary sent to enable to rural communities to continue their participation in the follow up project. Office expenses to cover these activities also need to be covered such as postage costs, photocopying and stationary costs.

Describe your impact in one sentence, commenting on both the individual and community levels.

The impact of Children in the Wilderness is to restore a sense of hope, purpose and the possibility of a bright future for Namibian boys.

What impact has your work achieved to date?

The impact on the lives of its participants are outstanding. Not only do they gain an education and come away from camp understanding a lot more about the unique environmental heritage of their country but they also come away with a renewed sense of self worth, confidence and hope for the future. By using positive role modelling the staff on camps illustrate to the kids the opportunities that are open to them and the different careers and jobs they could have. It is our hope and dream to be able to help these children to achieve these dreams. One previous camper was able to achieve his dream and after being exposed to the careers available to him in the tourism industry is now a guide as one of the Wilderness Safaris Lodges in Namibia.

Number of individuals served

Since 2002 there have been 23 Children in the Wilderness camps in Namibia with over 500 children having taken part in the programme. Half of this number are boys and half are girls. This does not take into account the many others who benefit from the childrens new knowledge in their communities on their return from camp.

Community impact

The children are able to return to their communities and not only regale the stories of the animals they have encountered and the fun and games they were able to play but they can also take back the important lessons they have learnt on camp. Conservation and caring for the environment is one of the biggest lessons we teach on camp but we also focus on themes of love, respect and responsibility. Especially during the HIV/AIDS sessions we educate the boys in positive platonic relationships, respecting the girls and treating each other with the love and respect they deserve. We teach about responsibility and being responsible for your actions. We hope that all these messages will be taken back to the communities and the children to not only live by them but to teach their friends and colleagues them.

Society at large

By showing these children a more positive future we hope this will encourage the rest of Namibian society to treat their disadvantaged children with more love and support. To give them opportunities that before had not been available to them. In media articles and stories we can show a good example as one of the countrys leading safaris company and in turn others can also begin social investment programmes and start to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged Namibian children.

What measure do you use to gauge your impact and why?

The impact of the programme is measured by a number of different ways: 1) questionnaires after camp, 2) Own fun assessment of personal folders and camp diaries, 3) Teacher/ Volunteer/ Chaperone feedback sheets and quarterly progress reports 4) Staff assessment and self assessment 5) monitoring reports of the follow up programme during regional visits.

The reason for these assessments is to constantly evaluate and improve the programme so that the children get the most possible out of their experience

How is your initiative currently being financed and how would you finance further expansion and/or replication?

Children in the Wilderness is financed by:
1) 'Donations in kind'- Sponsors give the project food, transport, equipment hire etc free of charge for the camps. Wilderness Safaris give the use of its lodges for 4 weeks a year for the exclusive use of Children in the Wilderness as well as the salary of the manager and office space.
2) Cash donors- Guests of Wilderness Safaris and corporate sponsors donate cash to help finance the cost of camps

Provide information on your current finances and organization:

The annual budget is approx N$ 1 million. Of this 'In Kind' sponsorship is N$ 280,000. Wilderness Safaris contributes N$ 360,000 and cash donors N$ 500,000.
There is one member of staff full time, the other camp staff are volunteers or Wilderness Safaris lodge staff who are loaned to the programme.

Each camp costs approx N$ 35,000 to run and we hold 4 camps a year.

Who are your potential partners and allies?

Wilderness Safaris are our biggest partner
Other partners/ allies include: Childline Lifeline, Unicef, Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare.

Who are your potential investors?

Potential investors include corporate Namibian sponsors including banks etc.
Wilderness Safaris, guests of Wilderness Safaris and Wilderness Trust.
Other donor organisations are being investigated internationally

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

Children in the Wilderness (CITW) was initiated after a visit by the actor Paul Newman, to Botswana in 2000. His organisation, 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 programme in Southern Africa although due to different context, activities focus on orphaned and vulnerable children in rural environments.

The programme 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 and South Africa. 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 programme. The programme is dedicated to helping children whose normal childhoods have been interrupted and disrupted by poor health, poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, especially those who live in remote rural areas. The programme aims to increase the capacity of young Namibians to cope with life’s challenges and to educate, empower and inspire them to actualize their greatest potential and to contribute to a legacy of conservation.

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

My name is Sarah Omura. I came to Namibia in 2004 as a VSO Volunteer and worked on community based income generation projects. I was introduced to Children in the Wilderness first during 2004 and asked if I would like to volunteer as one of the staff members on a camp. After this first camp I fell in love with the programme and have since done all the camps. The job as project co-ordinator became available and I jumped at it.