Today we welcome guest blogger Althea Wilson. Althea is the Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations at the African Wildlife Foundation. Born and raised in Sierra Leone, she has worked with mission-based organizations throughout her career in Canada, Cote d’Ivoire and the United States. EnviroKidz supports the African Wildlife Foundation through its 1% for the Planet initiative.
Beauty Beyond Words
“Today was one of the best, ever. I was reminded of the beauty and awesomeness that is Africa. We set out of Wilson Airport, Kenya at 7 this morning and boarded our 8-seater propeller plane, bound for Amboseli National Park in Southern Kenya. This was my first safari ever. My first time to see all these exotic animals that everyone thinks of when they think of Africa—the irony right? Especially given I was born and raised in Africa.
Seeing these majestic specimens in their natural habitat was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We actually had a herd of seven elephants—seven!—cross the road no more than 20 meters in front of our vehicle. Words absolutely cannot describe what this experience was like. No words.”
Africa’s Rich Natural Heritage
This excerpt from the blog I wrote while on a safari in Kenya a few months ago underscores the amount of work required to ensure that Africans ourselves are exposed to and understand the beauty, richness and value of our natural heritage so that we can adequately protect it. “Conservation”, “habitat loss”, “wildlife”, and “poaching” – these are all terms the average African child has never heard. I know this all too well because I was that African child. Growing up in Freetown, Sierra Leone, I was blissfully unaware of the richness and beauty of Africa’s flora and fauna. I didn’t know that I was fortunate enough to have been born on a continent that, while infamous for war and famine, had so much more to boast of.
Cultivating the Next Generation of Leaders
The fact that Africa’s next generation of leaders – her children – are lacking in this awareness does not bode well for the continent’s future, its natural heritage, its economic prospects, and its survival. The opportunity to change this narrative is what led me to the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF).
Recognizing that the future of Africa’s wildlife and wildlands is in the hands of her children, AWF’s Classroom Africa program builds primary schools in rural Africa, in communities that live around critical wildlife areas. Despite living close to spectacular landscapes, many rural African children have never seen their local wildlife. Instead, wildlife is often considered as a nuisance.
Classroom Africa cultivates enthusiasm for conservation by arranging field trips to national parks and starting eco-clubs to ensure that students learn about and gain an appreciation for their unique environments.
Empowering Children to Conserve Nature
AWF partners with corporations who have a firm commitment to the environment and conserving nature. Nature’s Path’s EnviroKidz truly embodies this. By supporting AWF through its 1% for the Planet initiative, EnviroKidz enables AWF to protect key threatened and endangered species such as elephants, rhino, large carnivores and great apes.
This partnership also supports AWF’s Classroom Africa program, allowing EnviroKidz to live out its mission of empowering children (even those living far away on the African continent) to conserve nature.
What Can You Do?
It is in all of our interests to do everything we can to ensure that Africa’s wildlife and wildlands thrive in a modern and changing Africa. In your own community, volunteer with local wildlife organizations and teach your children about the importance of nature and wildlife. At a global level, support AWF’s efforts to ensure that Africa’s wildlife is not relegated to history and science textbooks. Africa’s future depends on it!