Villages benefit from wilderness safaris

Francinah Baaitse Mmana
GREATFUL: Kgang Montsho

A local tourist outfit, Wilderness Safaris last week donated 300 food hampers to five villages under Okavango Community Trust, including Seronga, Gunotsoga, Beetsha, Gudigwa, and Eretsha.

Wilderness Safaris Managing director, Kim Nixon, said that the food parcels weighed around 17 tonnes and were meant to cushion the vulnerable members of these communities against hunger that has come as a result of income losses that came as a result of COVID-19.

“We realised how much coronavirus has affected our partners and our community that we work very closely with. And the suffering that everybody is going through right now, we feel it,” stated Nixon.

Indeed some of the recipients of the food hampers showed gratitude to wilderness safaris for the generous donation that included in each package, bags of maize meal, sorghum meal, rice, sugar, sugar beans, and matches, 2 litters cooking oil, packets of soup, corned beef, tea, bars of soap, washing powder, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.

For Therisanyo Sefu, a 32- year old unemployed mother of five, the parcels meant a lot to her, as her children will finally enjoy warm meals like other families in Seronga.

“I am no longer able to offer them basic needs such as clothes and good meals because tourists no longer visit the village,” Sefu explained.

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The single mother who lives with her unemployed uncle sais she was added to the list of beneficiaries because of her needy status, “I used to sell tswii but as you know people who work in local safari companies have gone back to their villages because tourists are no longer there and I basically have no customers,” she said

She further added that “I do not even have a house because the one I had collapsed in the last rainy season and the social services department had to give me a tent which we are currently live in.”

Another beneficiary, Kgang Montsho said that the food hamper would enable her to take a break from begging for food from neighbors, “I have nothing, and I depend on neighbors and good Samaritans like Wilderness Safaris for food. This means I will go for over a month with food in my house.”

Montsho added that life in Seronga has become even harder with COVID-19 as donations, which they she used to get from random visitors and tourists no longer come by.

Wilderness Safaris operate safari camps in the OCT area and their relationships with this community trust span in excess of twenty years.

The company made the donation following a request from OCT after the social services department made recommendations that the community was in need of food assistance.

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Accepting the donation, Okavango sub-district commissioner, Thabang Waloka said communities with concessions were more luckier than other communities as they stand to benefit from development nurtured from contractual partnership with the private sector.

Villages benefit from wilderness safaris
Nixon hands over parcels to Waloka

“You have to make a difference between now and 2026 over and above what you have done already, something that would be tangible and conspicuous for everybody to see. I will be happy to be working with you,” said Waloka.

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