Providing resources and wildlife education for communities surrounding Mana Pools National Park is a critical part of building local support for our conservation efforts. We strive to respond directly to the needs voiced by community members to have the greatest possible impact. This has included a variety of measures including equipping and furnishing a medical clinic; transporting the sick to hospital; buying a bus to transport children to school; transporting the deceased to their homelands; providing fuel for vehicles; providing water pumps when there is no water in the village; and donating toward Christmas and other annual celebrations. Here are some of the projects from 2019 and 2020.
Medical Clinic Held by Volunteers
A special walk-in clinic was provided at the Rangers Medical Clinic by a team of medical professionals visiting from the US in late August of 2019. A male general practitioner and geriatric specialist saw men, a female internist saw women, and a pediatrician saw children. The physicians were supported by a pharmacist. Patients received diagnoses and treatment plans as applicable. Supplies, materials and equipment were generously donated by Global Links, a nonprofit organization from Pittsburg, PA. The donated supplies and care provided to our rangers and their families were very much appreciated!
Conservation Clubs in the Hurungwe District
Bushlife/Zimparks began a new community education initiative in 2020. Twenty-four conservation clubs were started in the Hurungwe district, which is adjacent to the Mana Pools Park boundary. In this district, people live side by side with wildlife. Nkululeko “Freedom” Hlongwane, Bushlife Support Unit Operations Manager, reported there is constant human-wildlife interaction in this area. Senior Zimparks personal attended the conservation club introductions, along with Freedom, the cluster headmaster, and students. As Freedom says, “Catch them young. We are sewing the seed into these young junior rangers, to spread the conservation message to the community.”
Due to Zimbabwe’s poor economy and the Park rangers not receiving a living wage, in 2018 we started providing food rations to Mana Pools Rangers. We are also addressing the food needs of their families and extended families, who often stay at the ranger station, while the ranger is working in the Park. This has at times included 55 rangers and their families.
Bras for Zimbabwe Campaign
Over the 2019 giving season, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, many volunteers in the US collected bras and panties that were delivered in February to Miracle Missions in Harare. The organization distributed these donations to women and girls in need.
Colorful collection bins were created, manufactured and donated by a generous graphics designer, and volunteers were able to place them in offices and athletic clubs. The campaign was successful beyond our ”wildest” dreams. Thanks to our volunteer collectors and donors, we accumulated hundreds of beautiful bras and panties for the project.
This project not only helps meet a need of the local women, but also helps support our wildlife conservation work through the goodwill it creates for Bushlife Conservancy. It was a rewarding project and shows how people want to help total strangers in need, if we make it easy for them.