Ex­pe­ri­ences and con­tra­dic­tions in south­ern Africa

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - CONVERSATIONS -

A trip to Africa is al­ways guar­an­teed to heighten the senses. In June 2017 Marl­bor­ough’s

and her fam­ily ex­pe­ri­enced first hand the con­tra­dic­tions of life in south­ern Africa and met a per­son do­ing her best to meet the chal­lenges.

When you plan your trip to Africa, the an­i­mals and en­vi­ron­ment are ex­pected to be the main at­trac­tion.

But, as it turned out, they were merely the ve­hi­cle by which we were able to ex­pe­ri­ence what for me was most sig­nif­i­cant about south­ern Africa - the peo­ple.

The trip in­tro­duced poverty to my chil­dren.

At Vic­to­ria Falls, des­per­ately skinny men con­stantly ap­proached us try­ing to earn money to buy food for their fam­i­lies who lived in ei­ther mud or tin shel­ters.

In part due to po­lit­i­cal changes in Zim­babwe, the peo­ple faced 90 per cent un­em­ploy­ment. Adding to the prob­lem is the fact con­ser­va­tional aware­ness has helped to out­law poach­ing, other­wise known as hunt­ing for food to sur­vive.

The ques­tion that I kept ask­ing was how were these peo­ple, who had lived off the land for­ever, meant to eat if they faced se­vere penal­ties for killing pro­tected an­i­mals? At Vic­to­ria Falls they weren’t sur­viv­ing well.

It was a re­lief to leave this town and set­tle into The Hide, a sa­fari camp in the Hwange Na­tional Park. The Hide was a tran­quil par­adise about 20 me­tres from an ac­tive water hole.

The only noise came from the an­i­mals that sur­rounded us. Our sleep­ing quar­ters were lux­ury tents . Ifwe wanted to see more of the an­i­mals, we were of­fered sa­fari ex­cur­sions three times a day. Dur­ing the course of our stay at ‘The Hide’, we met Christa­belle, a Zim­bab­wean na­tional.

An hon­ours stu­dent with a BSc, she was the Com­mu­nity and Con­ser­va­tion Man­ager of the Sa­fari Camp. She had such a pas­sion for the work she was do­ing with the vil­lages and peo­ple sur­round­ing the Na­tional Park. She be­lieved these peo­ple would only sur­vive if they were ed­u­cated to­wards this goal.

‘‘There is no point in build­ing them a well, they need to build it them­selves thereby hav­ing the tools to main­tain and mod­ify it,’’ she said. It was through Christa­belle that I found the sim­plis­tic an­swer to my ques­tion on con­ser­va­tion and sur­vival. She set up The Hide Com­mu­nity Trust which worked along­side the camp. Christa­belle’s work for the Trust was vol­un­tary, al­though she was well sup­ported by the two di­rec­tors of The Hide. Her pri­mary goal was to ‘‘help those around the Hwange Na­tional Park that were in need of help, by en­sur­ing that con­ser­va­tion and sus­tain­able com­mu­nity devel­op­ment go hand in hand’’.

In the two-and-a-half years the Trust had been run­ning, ini­tia­tives in­cluded re­cy­cling, tree plant­ing, pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tion ma­te­ri­als, teach­ing chil­dren to grow their own food, in­stal­la­tion of a so­lar-pow­ered water pump and ed­u­ca­tional bur­saries.

Her pas­sions at present are in­stalling bee­hive fenc­ing to keep out the bee-wary ele­phants, bring­ing to­gether groups of women for train­ing in var­i­ous in­come-gen­er­at­ing ini­tia­tives and re­build­ing the lo­cal school that is be­ing slowly eaten by ter­mites.

I soon came to re­alise that do­na­tions to the trust weren’t be­ing sucked up by ad­min­is­tra­tive costs, be­cause the only ad­min­is­tra­tor was a 25-yearold woman with a love for her coun­try, an­i­mals and peo­ple and who de­voted all her spare time to help­ing them.

If you wish to help Christa­belle go to ‘‘wildlife con­ser­va­tion, Hwange Na­tional Park’ on the in­ter­net.

Fleur Hansby, with hus­band Nick Hansby and sons Luke, left, and Sam, at Vic­to­ria Falls in south­ern Africa.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.