Children in the Wilderness
Twice a year, two of Namibia’s top lodges close their doors to tourists and instead welcome groups of orphaned or vulnerable local schoolchildren.

 

Image All these young people have had their childhoods disrupted by poor health, poverty and HIV. In the six-day camps Wilderness Safaris aim to give the children back their confidence and dreams for the future.


“It is amazing to see the change in the children over the course of the camps,” says Sarah Omura, Programme Coordinator of Children in the Wilderness Namibia. “At first they are quite shy and scared of the unfamiliar surroundings, but with the love and support from our dedicated team of staff the children began to grow in self-confidence and esteem and by the end of the camps they go home filled with a new sense of hope and purpose.”


Part of the magic of camp is created by ensuring the emotional and physical safety of each child; creating a culture of positive feedback, encouraging supportive relationships with other children and staff and adding a healthy measure of laughter.


The camps take place in the Namib Desert at Kulala Wilderness Camp, or in Damaraland, home to the endangered black rhino, at the Rhino Desert Lodge. For many of the children it is the first time they have ventured outside  their small communities. The camps make some of the world’s best environmental classrooms. The interaction with local guides, conservationists and lodge management creates a fantastic opportunity for the children to develop new insights into the value of conservation and ecotourism in this country. We could write pages about this fabulous project, but these pictures and the letters the young people write at the end of their camps say it so much better.

 

“I really enjoyed being here. Since my mom died this was the first time in a long time that I am really happy again. I am gonna miss my new friends too. I lived really healthy and comfy here. I learned a lot about the animals and plants I wish that I am gonno see you all again. It is a wonderful world out there”. Patricia from Windhoek

“I will always remember everyone who was with me at the camp. Especially I will remember new friends, staff and I will remember the chef until the last day of my life. I will remember the chocolate cake we ate on the first day. I will remember the beautiful mountains and the very big Hoanib River. What I will remember most are my new friends”. Selina, 15, from Sesfontein
 

“I will remember the games and the friends that I met and the wild animals and the food and dancing and the dramas. I was very happy and I was not feeling alone”. Richard, 15 from Windhoek

"This was our first time to visit such a place and now we know the importance to save the animals. Franco is the best. Thank you for the smooth and comfortable journey in those luxury cars. I learned and saw so many things I did not know. We look so beautiful in our colourful t-shirt. I wish to buy my car also, I will study hard”. Rosalia and Silas from Oshakati

“I learned how the tok tokkie drinks water. I also learned where the name Namibia comes from. Now I have knowledge about my environment. Thank you Wilderness for giving me this time. Thank you for the chef”. Aloysius

"My favourite activity was the game drives and walks because I learned so much. I am going to go home and teach all my friends about what I learned, especially about HIV”. Teapot, 12, from Warmquelle

“If I had known I was coming to camp I would have brought all my belongings with me and then I could have stayed forever” Samanii, 10, from Warmquelle

 

Franco's story - My Life Changed

Six years ago Franco Morao was in a Namibian orphanage and had barely seen the country he lived in. Now he is one of Wilderness Safaris’ most popular guides. This is his story.

 

“In the year 2002, when Wilderness Safaris launched the Children in the Wilderness programme in Namibia for the first time, they came to the SOS Children Village Association, a privately-owned children’s orphanage situated in Windhoek. I was one of the older youths who were selected as counsellors/chaperones to stay with a group of kids inside one of the tents – like replacement parents. For me to have started with CITW was the most fortunate opportunity ever.


The camp was at Kulala Wilderness Camp, one of Wilderness Safaris’ lodges.  This overwhelmed me because most of us had never had such an opportunity to learn about the environment by being in the wilderness itself.  I was brought up in a very enclosed environment , so the only life I knew was that within the orphanage. When I saw the open spaces I felt like this was where I wanted to be. It felt like I had found a new family where there was sanctuary and where everyone always felt welcome.


Being part of Children in the Wilderness inspired me so much that I wanted to be part of the company Wilderness Safaris.  Through my long-term involvement with Children in the Wilderness and my conviction to stay part of it, I got the opportunity to join Wilderness Safaris Namibia as a guide in training.  I am now a guide at Wilderness Safaris’ Premier Camp- Serra Cafema. I am also now a camp director during the four kids’ camps we host every year in Namibia.


Namibia has many children like me. Children in the Wilderness can touch a lot of kids and make them feel rich in fortune. What the children will experience during the camps, they will remember.  Everyone has dreams”. 

 

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