What does your next African safari have to do with supporting 32 local schools and a popular maize-based traditional African drink called ‘maheu’? Well, as it turns out, they’re all wonderfully connected in a story that shines a light on how beautifully tourism and conservation can work side-by-side to uplift the surrounding communities.
As you all know, at YPA we take great care when choosing our travel partners. This is not only to ensure that you always get impeccable service and out-of-this-world experiences, but also because we feel a great responsibility to give back to the communities that support and surround the destinations we frequent.
On our recent trip to Zimbabwe, we were humbled to learn about the inspiring work that The Malilangwe Trust is doing. Through integrating conservation and community development and working with key strategic partners – such as one of our favorite Zimbabwe lodges, the Singita Pamushana Lodge – the non-profit organization supports over 20 000 school learners in the area through a daily feeding program.
The challenges that these rural Zimbabwean learners face are immense, including coming to school hungry, learning in crowded environments with high pupil-to-teacher ratios, and a shortage of educational resources (with up to five learners sometimes needing to work from and share one textbook).
As Tendai Nhunzwi, the Trust’s General Manager of Human Resources and Outreach Programs explains, the impact of offering the children 300ml of maheu nourishment every day is a small gesture that has an immensely positive impact on the learners. Not to mention the impact that some of the other programs running alongside the feeding program deliver, including conservation education camps, e-learning projects, and junior ranger programs to build skills and offer further education and possible future career opportunities.
For our YPA founders, Nick and Ashley, stories like these from The Malilangwe Trust show just how powerful small contributions and initiatives can be to affect powerful positive impacts on the communities that receive them.
“It’s amazing to see how simple yet effective these programs are in some of the remotest and least developed corners of Zimbabwe,” Nick enthuses. “Whether we’re talking about school initiatives or rhino poaching education drives that are targeted to just a handful of community schools and teachers in the direct vicinity, we’re seeing real change happening. People are increasingly understanding how conservation issues impact all of us, and in supporting conservation, they’re changing their own lives, building futures, and bringing economic opportunities to their communities.”
“One project can have a huge impact on literally thousands of people in the surrounding communities, and it’s incredible that we can support these projects through the travels that we embark on in Africa.”
The Malilangwe Trust needs all of the support they can get. Some schools need even the basics like potable water, but all of them need contributions towards textbooks, learning materials, and e-learning facilities.
Get in touch with us if you’d like to know more, or perhaps your contribution will come via booking an unforgettable safari at the beautiful Singita Pamushana Lodge. At the end of the day, by choosing responsible travel partners that give back to the communities that run them, everyone wins.