Wilderness Safaris operates in six African countries, and the CITW Zambezi operation covers Zambia and Zimbabwe. All of Wilderness Safaris’ camps are featured on the Pack for a Purpose website, and we are so fortunate to receive many items from guests through Pack for a Purpose.
Our guests have shown considerable generosity and support for our projects. Over the past year, CITW has received approximately 160 kilograms of donations that guests have brought with them in their luggage. While our list of necessary items is rather broad, stationery, underwear, and amenities such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap are among the most frequently received items. We have, through guests using Pack for a Purpose, managed to provide a pair of ‘shoes that grow’ to every child at a primary school of 450 students, all girls in Grade 1 and 2 with a set of five knickers each, provided two primary school soccer teams with uniforms, delivered netballs and soccer balls to every school we work with … and the list goes on.
CITW Zambezi works with 36 schools across Zambia and Zimbabwe. This equates to over 12 000 students and more than 400 teachers. Unless otherwise stipulated by guests, donations are distributed to those who need them most. Detailed records are kept on each distribution so that we can continuously monitor who is in the greatest need.
The stationery donations we receive make it possible for us to annually distribute much-needed exercise books and writing materials to the schools under our umbrella. Thus, every student is equipped with the necessary tools to continue their education. Teachers, too, benefit from these valuable gifts, as many struggle to access and afford even the most basic of materials, ranging from chalk, ballpoint pens, and permanent markers.
As a result of the overwhelming Pack for a Purpose support, and donations of new underwear and reusable sanitary packs for girls, our Feminine Hygiene project has been, and continues to be, one of our biggest success stories. Due to the isolation of many of these communities and the inability of families to afford even the most basic of needs, the majority of girls do not have access to sanitary hygiene products. This results in these girls missing school during menstruation, thus many days of learning are lost over the course of a year. This negatively impacts girls’ opportunity to perform well in their national examinations and continue with their education. Through the generous donations of underwear and sanitary products that we have received, we have been able to distribute to all girls in their Grade 7 year – the last year of primary school. We combine every distribution with a talk on menstrual and sexual health by a Ministry of Health nurse – topics that are often seen as ‘taboo’, meaning girls sometimes miss the opportunity of getting these talks from their families.
Receiving simple things like toothbrushes and toothpaste is also highly valuable. We distribute these once we have enough to ensure that all students in a particular grade at school receive a set. As with the sanitary pack distributions, we talk to the students first on the importance of oral hygiene. We explain how they should brush their teeth and to use ash from their fires as an alternative for toothpaste should they be unable to replenish their supply.
Now more than ever, when travel becomes possible again, students and their families in these remote areas in which we work will need assistance. Stationery, clothing (particularly new underwear), and educational resources go a long way in providing for some of the needs of people in these areas.
As food security in the wake of COVID-19 is an impending crisis, CITW will continue to focus on this and put much of our effort and resources to helping ease this burden. Thus, any donations of the above-mentioned items will be hugely appreciated and will allow us to focus on the provision of food.
By Sue Goatley, CITW Zambezi Programme Co-ordinator
This article first appeared on the Pack for a Purpose site on May 12, 2020.