Forty-eight Eco-Club members and 48 YES Club members from eight Primary Schools and two YES Club centres around Liwonde National Park were hosted by Central African Wilderness Safaris (CAWS) Mvuu Camp on their annual camp in early January 2020.
This year’s camp sponsors included the Malawi Environmental Endowment Trust (MEET), CAWS, Rosemary Pencil Foundation, Children in the Wilderness, the Ministry of Education and African Parks.
The 2020 CITW annual camp at Mvuu comprised…
- active members of Eco-Clubs from eight primary schools around Liwonde National Park
- children aged between 11 and 13
- pupils from Grades 5, 6 and 7
- 24 girls and 24 boys from the eight schools mentioned above
The camp mentors came from the following professional backgrounds…
- Primary school teachers
- Medical technicians
- Wildlife conservation and ecotourism
- University students
- CAWS guides
The general theme for 2020 was “Conserving Biodiversity”, with the overall objective being to provide selected Eco-Club members with practical, hands-on experience in learning sanctuaries – such as Mvuu Camp – in order to consolidate and enhance their Eco-Club learnings.
Children learned about wildlife and the natural environment, including terrapins and how they live in water; also, what they need when they come out of the water
The camp curriculum comprised…
- Wildlife and natural resources conservation
- Life skills and leadership development (based on camp and local culture and traditions)
- Health and nutrition
- Sports, fun and mixed learning
In preparation for the camp, all selected camp mentors underwent two days of training which also included topics like teaching and learning through fun; monitoring and evaluating the teaching and the learning processes; and identifying and encouraging individual children’s potential.
Some major activities and lesson sessions from the camp curriculum included:
Introduction to Natural Resources and Wildlife…
- Natural and man-made
- Living and non-living things
- Animals and plants
- Wildlife and domesticated animals
- Government-protected resources, free resources and private resources
Chifundo Nyambalo, a former Eco-Club member, progressed through the CITW programme, and is now a safari guide at Mvuu Camp; he is also still a member of YES programme. On this year’s camp, Chifundo was one of the activity leaders and took the children on boat rides and game drives, teaching them about the Park’s wildlife and its environment.
Maria Chirwa and Davie Nkosie: YES Camp participants receiving their camp certificates on their last day
Maria Chirwa – Secondary School Teacher
Maria joined CITW in 2005 when she was 12. She was a member of the Eco-Club Programme and thereafter a member of YES Programme. She is currently the Vice-Chairperson of the CITW YES Programme in Malawi.
Davie Nkosi: Third-year Student in Environmental Sciences, University of Malawi
Davie joined CITW in 2008, progressing from the Eco-Club programme to YES Club member.
CITW Malawi has over 170 members of YES Programme. Forty-eight were selected by their peers to participate in the annual YES camp at Mvuu Camp in Liwonde National Park. There were two cohorts – the first comprising YES Club members from secondary schools and those who are based in the villages. The second was for those YES members at tertiary education level, and graduates.
The general objectives for the YES Camp included…
- A lecture from an expert on “Transformation communication”
- Culture and transformation – strategies on changing Knowledge, Attitude and Behaviour in local culture, with the goal of achieving sustainable conservation
- Outreach to and hearing from local community leaders about the Park and its effect on their communities
- Discussions with African Parks on the gap between collaborative management systems as provided for by Government acts and policy, and the actual national park management system on the ground
The youth had a tight camp programme, but covered everything on the schedule. The general outcomes were amazing, with the youth undertaking research, and producing reports and presentations for discussion.
Our heartfelt thanks to Central African Wilderness Safaris, some of whose Lilongwe head office staff also volunteered as camp mentors.
Overall this was a very successful camp, with all the set objectives being achieved. It could not have been accomplished without the total support of CAWS Mvuu Camp management and staff. Mvuu General Manager Richard Chimwala also assisted with the handing out of the certificates to the participants.
“Many thanks to our donors and sponsors for making our 2020 CITW annual camp a possibility!”
~ Symon Chibaka – Programme Coordinator, CITW Malawi
Children in the Wilderness Malawi aims to facilitate sustainable conservation through leadership development. In the process, the programme works together with some affiliated local schools and communities in rural areas to organise and run Eco-Clubs, YES Clubs and annual environmental-education camps. Through these programmes, leaders are identified, groomed and supported in order to realise their goals.
Communities are sensitised, challenged and educated by the tangible outcomes of the programme – their own groomed children and youth reaching out to them.
Since 2003, CITW Malawi has hosted 1242 first-time campers (Eco-Club members) and 236 repeat campers (YES members).