On the 11th of April, the day after first term of 2014 ended, the African Bush Camps Foundation incorporated its first Student Day into the End of Term Interviews.
The rain and very early wintery weather did not stop all 38 students from attending, some having traveled 400km across the country from their chosen Boarding School to be there. The day began with some team building exercises facilitated by Family Impact, a local Bulawayo organization which builds communities through the family model. The students had a chance to warm up on this very chilly, drizzly day, getting to know each other better and problem solve some hands on problems, a big change for some who have come from difficult family backgrounds with the majority of our scholarship students being orphan’s and vulnerable students who come from a rural setting where they are expected to take part in the work of a harsh everyday life of farming, herding cattle and participating in the survival of the family. It did not take long for them to warm up, to the games and each other and laughter was soon echoing through the African Bush Camps offices.
They continued playing games through the morning while the end of term interviews were being conducted. The students have stringent conditions to fulfill in order to remain in the scholarship program.
The day also saw the mentorship program being formalized where the older students assume responsibility for the younger ones, further enforced by some of the fun team building games planed by our activities facilitator for the day, Sandra Masaka, who has just completed her year long internship with Vanavevhu – Children of the Soil, another local Bulawayo based organization empowering orphan’s. As the games and activities progressed throughout the day, one could see the children and young adults gaining confidence which is heartwarming to witness as we try to inspire leadership skills in them.
Before lunch, we had the privilege of having a local doctor, Dr Rumbidzai Kainga come and give the children some career guidance, sharing her own story and experiences as many of the students aspire to be doctors or nurses.
The African Bush Camps Sales, Marketing and Accounts teams joined us for lunch which was catered for by Tracey Mutemi, a Precious Life graduate who did her practical attachment at Kanga Camp in 2012.
Nic Polenakis, director of Somalisa Camp and Shelley Cox, the groups Marketing Manager interviewed some of the students who had applied for the opportunity to do work experience these holidays at Somalisa Camp and two students will spend a week at Somalisa Camp early May, doing work experience in the camp, the second holidays we have had the opportunity to do this. Not only does this build the students in skills and confidence but it gives them a first hand account of where their support is coming from and makes the idea of true conservation more than just an idea and we hope will start to build a love and appreciation for the wildlife and spread long term sustainable tourism to the next generation.
Prize giving completed the day with those with outstanding achievements being recognized and several encouragement awards also being handed out. The 2014 From one students have all settled well into their new boarding school’s which is a huge culture shock and adjustment for them, some of them having left their rural homes for the first time. The first term results were very promising, which will hopefully not only encourage them but also spur on some of the older students, Having worked with the primary school’s from which the students are chosen for the Scholarship program, Main Camp Primary School and Mambanje Primary School for several years now, working hand in hand with the community to improve the teaching and classroom materials, text books and standards of the school, it is very encouraging to see the results in the students coming from these school improving with every year, they are becoming more confident and showing overall success in the program.