Julie Alexander review 9 Dec 2021
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Walking with elephants
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Be fit before you travel
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
I feel it benefitted the local environment
and animals. Im not convinced that
volunteers should enter local
communities. I think this gives the
wrong impression- white people turning
up with gifts then disappearing again. It
raises expectation and creates an
unhealthy dynamic in my view.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
Excellent. Life enriching
Read the operator's response here:
Thank you for your review and we’re glad you had an excellent overall experience!
Regarding entering local communities and giving donations, we appreciate your feedback and would like to reassure you that this is part of much broader work that we do to improve the lives of the communities we work with.
The well-being of rural communities is vital for conservation efforts, as life in rural Zimbabwe is very challenging and without the support of volunteers and international donors, the communities would be less able to support the wildlife. So the two work in conjunction with each other.
Recently (due to the impact of Covid-19), it has not been possible to run the in-school early years literacy programme as usual, but as supporting the surrounding communities remains an important part of what the team do, there are several ongoing community projects in place such as tree planting. One of the donors has donated fruit trees for the community which are given to encourage families to grow healthy food, either to sell or for their own consumption. At different times volunteers deliver the trees to the communities and assist in planting them. Though these trees are gifted to the community, they are to encourage and enable financial self-sufficiency.
While we do not support a culture of hand-outs, many volunteers do wish to bring personal donations such as sanitary ware, stationery, and school equipment. When this happens, members of the community are asked which families or individuals would most benefit from these individual donations and then volunteers visit to make their donation. We understand that this is not always an ideal situation, but access to essential items is extremely limited in rural Zimbabwe and we do not want to restrict volunteers from bringing out donations.
Additionally, there is a new partnership with a local couple who now host a homestead visit for the volunteers. Here they can see what life is like in a rural village, have a tour and enjoy a meal, and this is now an income-generating business which supports them.
We hope this provides some additional helpful information and please contact us if you have any further feedback or would like to chat about this.