From safari enthusiasts to sharing skills. We are always privileged with the energy new friends bring, and enrich our vision of positive change.
In 2012 Mike and Di Lyons joined a group of safari enthusiasts from Australia, to visit Zimbabwe to enjoy the nature, landscapes and culture of one of Africa’s most beautiful countries. During their stay at Somalisa Camp in Hwange National Park, they spent a day visiting the surrounding communities. Our partnership with the Mambanje Community was in its initial phase, having been identified as a vulnerable community on the outskirts of Hwange National Park. This was the beginning of a wonderful friendship and collaboration and Mike and Di’s support for the foundation continues to grow.
Mike & Di Lyons returned to Zimbabwe in 2018, with a friend Jenny Barnett and a well thought out plan to share their skills in relevant and effective ways, that would truly benefit the communities and projects they would visit. Again, enjoying an awe-inspiring safari experience, they also arranged to spend extended time with a variety of the community projects in the Hwange area. Mike & Di had spent some time understanding the challenges, talents and needs of the communities we work with in the months leading up to their visit, through honest and open communication with us. It emerged that Mike’s passion for photography would be a great asset for us to capture interactive images to help communicate the ethos and stories behind the projects.
Mike, Di & Jenny were accompanied by our Australian foundation Champion Liz Bentley, putting into action their specific areas of expertise they had come to share which included incredibly planned out photo shoot of the entire Mambanje Primary School. Mike embraced his role of photographer with the assistance of Di and Jenny and captured the developments of the Detema Sewing Group, the newly equipped Detema Seconary School science laboratory, the Mambanje Primary School Play Centre, the Umtshibi Pre-School, the High School Scholarship students as well as the various income generating groups in the Dete area.
Not only did Mike spend some intense days editing all of the 2000 images he took in Zimbabwe on his return to Australia, he further showed his and Di’s incredible generosity, printing the school photograph’s which were given to each child and their parent or guardian, every child receiving a total of 5 photographs, a first for many of the children and families, having printed photo’s of themselves and their school class. The photographs were received with much enthusiasm, shy smiles and laughter.
Di and Jenny helped with the careful planning around the photo shoots
Mike & Di further shared their skills by creating new partnerships. From years of working within the textiles industry in Australia, they shared the stories of the children at Mambanje which inspired and made possible the donation of caps for all children at the school from the Australian Clothing Company, The caps were received with much joy, and are worn with pride by the children who often walk for hours a day in the heat and glare of the harsh African sun.
It is clear that the energy and passion for reaching our goals, improving lives of people living on the borders of vulnerable wildlife areas and empowering communities with confidence and knowledge to benefit their own lives and their own futures, has caught on. Mike & Di are also now involved with a monumental project made possible by the coming together of numerous champions in Australia, where a container which is being filled with a wide range of resources for the projects in the Mola Village near Bumi Hills Safari Lodge. The container will bring predominantly boma equipment for the expansion of the mobile boma project to Mola and much needed health clinic supplies , all made possible with the great help from Liz Bentley, the Kreuger Family who visited Somalisa Camp earlier this year and Deidre and Ian Minter who also visited with Mike & Di in 2012 and have been part of our global community and supporters for many years. More to come soon!
We are incredibly grateful for supporters and friends like these, paving the way for more future partnerships, friendships and sharing of resources, networks and skills to contact us and plan a well thought out plan for what would be appropriate and effective for our projects.