“Homo nosce te Ipsum (Man know thyself),” Dereck Joubert often quotes…
Community Partnerships and Programmes remind us to look within and get to know ourselves more intimately, to live according to our own individual nature. It’s a call to recognise and understand our personal values, limits, motivations, aches and pulls. In knowing ourselves better, we can better know and understand others and the world around us.
Across our camps and lodges in Africa, each individual matters and has a role to play and makes a difference in our community partnerships and programmes. It’s the individuals in our team, at Great Plains Conservation, who make the magic happen. Who share the stories of our wild things and wilderness, who help to build our bridges, reach out to new communities, fly our rhinos to safety, water our land, create food from raw ingredients and keep our travellers inspired and safe. Spending time getting to know these individuals brings us closer and reminds us that the whole is but a sum of its parts.
From Zimbabwe to Botswana to Kenya, Great Plains Conservation employs almost 700 people and that number continues to grow. This is significant considering the United Nation’s calculation that each job in a country such as Botswana directly benefits ten additional people in that employee’s extended family. We are able, through tourism, to create jobs and provide training in areas that are often very remote and not located close to formal employment opportunities.
In looking at the bigger picture, we can lose sight of the individuals who play vital parts in the great ticking of the world, we can lose sight of ourselves. But let’s spend a moment looking at our essential heart and soul – the people working with us in our camps, lodges, foundation initiatives, and in our offices… in gratitude to their responsibility in helping us create positive change in Africa.
These are just some of those faces you’ll meet on safari with us. This is what makes Great Plains Conservation special.
“Conservation is a balance between wildlife, space and people, a partnership between us all.” – Dereck Joubert
In addition to immediate employment through Great Plains Conservation, we also work closely with the Great Plains Foundation, which is itself committed to investing in the individuals who make up vital communities in different corner of Africa. Working together with these communities is what creates real, lasting change.
Since 2010, we have been partnered with local women in the communities surrounding our camps in both Botswana and Kenya to honour and support traditional crafts and provide income-generating opportunities through the sale of beadwork and other products in the camps’ boutiques. In both these countries, our travellers can connect with the people in the communities through programmes designed by and generating direct revenue for community members, such as our Life with Elephants tour in Botswana, and visits to women’s craft groups and Maa Beadwork, a social enterprise in Kenya that has been established by the Maa Trust, to bring additional livelihood to Maasai women and their families.
People are essential to conservation, but are also important entities in and of themselves. To honour this, we work to spread knowledge through the Great Plains’ Student Conservation Camps, and by reaching out to teachers and students in their communities in Botswana and Kenya. The goal of our camps is to connect with hundreds of local youth at a pivotal time in their lives, teaching proactive conservation and environmental education to instill an appreciation for the earth, the immediate landscape and its ecology, and the importance of taking care of it for future generations.
As part of our Solar Mamas programme, we consulted with community – including the Okavango Community Trust – and selected nine women from five villages to embark on a five-month course in India to learn about solar-powered technology and basic business skills. Now, having returned, they are set to become solar engineers, business women and trainers within their communities and are able to spread their knowledge and expand access to solar power in Africa. Through the generosity of guests, our Solar Lanterns project currently provides community members on the edge of the Okavango Delta with a safe and sustainable light source – a basic human need.
There are many more examples of the inspiring individuals we work with, through employment, empowerment or education, of the people whom form part of our larger family and community in different parts of Africa. Each and every one of them matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference in the world.
When the weight of work that still needs to be done weighs heavy or when the world news gets overwhelming, it helps to simplify, to consider the individual and each one’s impact on our environment, big or small. You’ll find yourself quickly realising the extent of the power already at play.