Safari resort reaches out to local community

Grey-­‐gold, muddy giants padded soundlessly just feet beyond my reach. A deep chesty gurgle rumbled through The Hide. I sat motionless in awe of what was unfolding before me.

thehideMy heart began to beat so loud that two or three elephants stared curiously in my direction. Safe in my hide I began to inhale the rugged majesty of the wild scene that surrounded me. I breathed deeply and drank in the glory of what I was witnessing. I began to take photographs but soon stopped, forcing myself to simply be and to rest in the frontier that my heart had been longing for.

That night as I stood in the outdoor shower and washed the Kalahari dust from my feet, my heart was full.

The following morning I rose early and enjoyed the rooibos tea that had been delivered to my tent with a morning wake up call. I sat on my bed gazing at the warthog and impala dotted around the waterhole. I studied the short yellow grasses and playful hornbills, the thorny green tree line and the black-­‐backed jackal that was framed by my teak doorposts.

I climbed aboard one of The Hide’s safari vehicles and was soon transported into the communal heartland surrounding Hwange National Park. I have conducted conservation agriculture, agroforestry and leadership training all over Zimbabwe. When I looked at the fields of the community that we entered I thought, “How can anyone grow anything in this soil?” I was exasperated by the prospect of teaching farmers to grow foodstuffs sustainably in virtual desert soils. I expected to be met by hopeless, helpless farmers. Instead I spent two-­‐days surrounded by smiling children and determined farmers. A community faced by the most dire circumstances but enthusiastic about working hard to change their fortunes.

the-hide2The Hide Community Trust led by Christabelle Peech reminded me of the hope and the joy that comes from believing in the impossible. I was reminded of how and why I began the work in which I am engaged ten years ago. I tasted again the senseless idealism that brought me back to the land of my birth after five-­‐years in Texas. I saw the passion and purpose of the team that surrounded me from The Hide and Foundations for Farming as they poured their love and energy into the farmers and children and I began to breath again. The dry Kalahari sand blown to my lip by the driving wind tasted of hope. Hope grows in the fields of Africa.

the-hide3I saw Christabelle’s devotion to the community that she brought me here to serve. I saw life in the men, women and children that now call her ‘Friend’ and I realized that this is the future of our nation. The Hide Safari Camp and all of its guides sourced from the Hwange community, thank you. “Twalumba” (Tonga), “taboka” (Nambia), thank you for believing, as I do, that we have a role to play in the preservation of not only our pristine wildlife preserves but also the people who eek out an existence on the fringe of our iconic parks. We have a responsibility to educate and equip communities as we ensure that future generations can enjoy the natural heritage of our nation. We have a responsibility to love and empower the most marginalized members of our society. The Hide Community Trust I salute you. It has been an honour to experience the beauty of your camp in our nation’s largest national park and a privilege to serve your community. “Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints!”

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