Most of the parents that live in the rural communities that surround the camps in which we operate are employed by either National Parks, camp fire projects or safari camps within those areas. Our hope is incorporating the ‘tourism dollar’ into funding for the education of their children. The Foundation supports vulnerable children within primary schools as well as AIDS orphans through scholarships and funding for secondary schooling.
We work with schools surrounding Hwange National Park, currently focusing on two primary schools that have been identified as receiving the least assistance and being most in need of support, those being Hwange Main Camp Primary School and Manbanje Primary School. We support the schools by addressing the community and its needs at large.
Mambanje Primary School is a very remote school, located 15km from the town of Dete, a road which is so run down it takes over an hour to get there. The community at Mambanje, mainly rely on subsistence farming which is not a very reliable or profitable income. We currently support 79 orphans and vulnerable children at the school where the parents and guardians are unable to raise the US$15 fee per term or US$45 per year school fee per child. We also provide the salary for one additional teacher at $500 a month and again the community match that and also fund their own additional teacher.
We also assist the school to also hold their own fundraising events through which they raise funds for the community to provide additional teachers so that each class has its own teacher.
We are currently fundraising for several projects for the school, such as a tuck shop, a sewing project, uniforms, a solar pump, borehole repairs and a graded road.
We have been sponsoring this school attended by the children of National Parks Employees since 2006, we fundraise for the school fee’s of Orphan and Vulnerable children, currently being 40, provide a teacher and assist them in fundraising for stationary, text books and other needs they have
At Hwange Main Camp Primary school, the Foundation supports the school and community in several ways through supporting the students, the teachers, help provide school materials and general maintenance of the school as well as assisting the needy groups within the school community such as widows and single parents or extended family’s supporting the AIDS orphans.
Currently we support 40 orphans and vulnerable children at the school from grade 1 to 7. We fundraise for their school fees (currently US$20 per term, or US$60 per year per child). We also fundraise for uniforms, second hand clothes for these children and through partners such as ‘Pack for a Purpose’ guests coming to camps in the area are encouraged to bring stationary, books, pens, pencils, art materials and sporting equipment which greatly benefit the school.
Rural Schools in Zimbabwe and Africa in general are often understaffed and Primary Schools from pre-school to grade 7 will have anywhere from 3 – 4 teachers which that composite classes are very common and teachers really struggle to cover the materials. At Main Camp Primary School we fundraise for the salary of one teacher (the current salary for a rural teachers is around US$500 per month). The school community also fundraises amongst the parents to match that and also provide the funding for another teacher. When possible, we also aim to provide morning tea for teachers at the school which is a very much appreciated incentive and costs US$60 per month).
In the last 8 years that we have worked with the school, we have found that the grade seven results have improved remarkably and the school has gone from being placed 44 out of 80 Primary Schools in the Hwange Rural District Area to 2nd place in 2013.
Main Camp Primary School also has a vegetable garden that we assist them to run and maintain. It is looked after by the students and supervised by the teachers of the school in turn teaching them conservation farming techniques as well as providing them with nutritious vegetables to supplement their diets.
2012 we assisted the school to open a tuck shop in the community as a small business. Together with a fundraising committee made up of parents from the school, a business plan was drawn up and the tuck-shop is successfully re-paying its interest free loan from the Foundation and the school is benefitting every month from the profits of the shop.
This year for the second year running the sponsors of the grade seven students have continued their support through to high school and so Main Camp Primary School has had a 0% dropout rate from grade for 2012 and 2013, building these lasting relationships is a great achievement and very rewarding for all.
The Foundation currently supports 38 High School Students with full scholarships. Each year, the orphan and vulnerable students we support from Hwange Main Camp Primary School and Mambanje Primary School compete for a scholarship to selected schools in Zimbabwe.
Because of the challenges the families caring for the orphan’s face, many of these students would have dropped out of school by now without this assistance. The students attend the best school that they can gain entrance into and embark on stringent scholarship conditions to stay in the program. We also aim to provide them with guidance and support in all areas of their lives which effect their physical and mental wellbeing and therefore performance at school.
By attending boarding schools, it is a great financial relief on the families who care for these children and also means that the students are able to focus solely on their school work. In Zimbabwe, the standard at boarding schools is still recognized as being superior to most day schools.
In 2013 we saw the students in the higher grades participating in our community events, by giving back they are learning to be role models and leaders in their own communities. They also take on a mentorship role over the younger scholarship students. We had several students do work experience over their holidays which was a great success with two of our students going to Somalisa Camp for a week in December and something which we plan to develop and expand in 2014 broadening the horizons of our students.
For the second year in a row, all of the orphaned and vulnerable students from Main Camp Primary School had their sponsors continue their support into high school, meaning that there was a 0% drop out rate for the 2012 and 2013 grade seven classes. The building of these relationships has been very rewarding for both the students, their families and the sponsors alike.
We have partnered with a local Bulawayo organization ‘Precious Life Foundation’ which identifies vulnerable girls and women from difficult backgrounds to alleviate the orphan crisis of baby dumping. Kanga and Somalisa Camp offers Precious Life graduates places for their 6-month hospitality and catering attachment where they learn the ins and outs of every department within the camp, receive a mentor from our team of staff and leave with training and recommendations to set them up to become independent with future job prospects. Since 2012 we have had 5 graduates participate in 6 month internships and we had another 4 joining the Somalisa and Kanga teams in April 2014.
The Vukani Project is a group of 16 people from the village of Dete who got together to start income generating projects. They are all unemployed and most of them have only completed grade 7 at primary school. They started an organic vegetable garden in May 2010 using available land that belongs to one of the members. They have had challenges with water which has slowed down their progress but the garden is now up and running. Because of this slow start they started a second project in August 2011 which is a Jewelry making project where they recycle magazines, rolling them into beads and then designing and putting together jewelry pieces including earrings, necklaces and bracelets. The project has had great success with many sales already and the jewelry is for sale in the African Bush Camps safari camps.
The Thandanani sewing project is a group of ten women aged from 22 to 61 that formed as a group in 2009 in Dete. They owned 3 sewing machines between them, but they had no funds to buy material to get started. Four of the members are widowed, three are married and three are single mothers. Due to economic hardship all group members are struggling to earn a decent living hence the eagerness to grab the opportunity to sew to earn a living. They received funds in August 2011 through the African Bush Camps Foundation and made their first sales in September that same year. The group is advantaged when it comes to discipline and dedication because of the age differences among the members. The group proved to be hardworking, dedicated and motivated by their different backgrounds. Bringing together different skills and resources, they make the most of opportunities and are optimistic, willing to work hard to better their economic circumstances.
Vukazenzele is a group of parents from the Hwange Main Camp Primary school. As there are many families at the Hwange Main Camp who are struggling to pay for school fee’s, rather than rely on handouts we encouraged the parents to form a group which would be able to help themselves in the long run. A chicken project was started in March 2012 where chickens are raised and sold to the local community as well as the surrounding safari camps. The parents of both Main camp Primary and Mambanje Primary have started tuck shops in the community providing basic groceries for every day use.
We hold regular events in the communities surrounding Hwange National Park, bringing together people from different background and walks of life, to be able to have fun and build community spirit, these are usually sporting events and always have an element of conservation as well as community outreach towards specific vulnerable groups in the community and always involve the schools from the area.
Heroes Day Soccer Tournament - African Bush Camps Foundation holds a soccer tournament each year for the Zimbabwean holiday National Heroes Day for the Dete Soccer League, a ZIFA (Zimbabwe Football Association) registered soccer league made up of 16 clubs representing 16 villages of the surrounding areas.
The aim of the event is to provide the clubs with a tournament with prizes as well as bringing together the community in a positive context, building community spirit. It is also meant to benefit some of the remote villages who usually do not receive any attention.
In 2015 we had our sixth of holding the annual tournament. Our aim is to sponsor the soccer clubs but also to reach out to the schools from the 16 villages represented by the soccer teams. More Heroes Day Soccer Tournament are planned for the following years.
Dete 10km Run - The Jane Bubear Sports Foundation in partnership with African Bush Camps foundation, had its first 10km fun run in 2009 in the small remote town of Dete, Zimbabwe and it has now become an annual event much anticipated by the town and surrounding villages. The fun run is an opportunity to bring together people as a community, to celebrate life through sport, to just simply have fun in a world where every day is a struggle just to survive. Every runner receives a prize for participating which is much treasured and celebrated. In 2011 the first 2km run for the Primary School children was held prior to the main event and it was a huge success with over 200 students participating. This year we expect 1000 participants in total, a large number for this small rural community.
This year our aim is to provide Mambanje Primary school with Happy Readers and curriculum educational books for the school. We would like to supply Chouzhou Primary School with long sleeved Fleeces jumpers.
The 14700 sq\km (1.4 million hectares) Hwange National park is situated in the notoriously arid Western region of Zimbabwe. The park is covered by a blanket of Kalahari sand which was blown in from Botswana many millions of years ago. This deep Kalahari sand has no natural rivers, springs or permanent water so it is imperative to provide water for the prolific wild life which is found in this area. A few months after the annual rains most of the natural watering holes or pans begin to dry up forcing all of the wild life to start converging to the larger pans for water. It is these 60 larger pans in the park which have boreholes with engines that pump water from deep underground (70meters on average). Without these pumps there would be no water and hence very little wild life in Hwange.
In 2012, due to the continual struggle for survival and due to the very erratic water supply in Hwange, Somalisa Camp together with African Bush Camps Foundation have initiated the ‘Hwange H20’ fund to try to alleviate the pressure in the Somalisa Concession and the surrounding areas.
To date we have raised over US$25,000 for the project, which has gone towards pumping water into Manga 3 (by our airstrip), and drilling a borehole at Umkawazaan Pan and in partnership with Elefence International, solar panels and pump were installed in December 2013. We look forward to further developing our partnership with Elefence International as we embark on developing more solar boreholes in the most desperate areas of Hwange National Park where we are aiming to fundraise for a total of US$109,100 this year.