GCC Announces Collaboration with Africa Foundation

The Global Conservation Corps is proud to partner with Africa Foundation
Global Conservation Corps is proud to partner with Africa Foundation, the nonprofit arm of &Beyond

When two non-profits have the same goals, joining forces is like 1 + 1 = 3.

Today, GCC celebrates its official collaboration with Africa Foundation, a community development organization working in close collaboration with  &Beyond, a global travel company whose vision is to put the guest, the land, the wildlife, and the local people at the forefront of everything it does. 

Africa Foundation was founded in 1992 and is active in 73 communities, near to core conservation areas, following the footprint of the &Beyond lodges in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Botswana, and Namibia. 

In the 1990s, there was an understanding gap between conservationists and local  communities living nearby conservation areas. Africa Foundation was established to bridge that gap by developing relationships with communities and sharing wisdom between communities and conservationists. Africa Foundation hires local people in each region who are best placed to understand local issues and appropriate solutions and whose role is to listen and support the communities to deliver their developmental goals, while improving community understanding of the value of conservation.  

Listening to the problems, but also the solutions

“When we started there was a lot of animosity between the white conservationists, the safari travel industry, and the local communities, who were in a state of deprivation,” explains Rebekah Copham, Africa Foundation’s Business Development Manager. “&Beyond quickly recognized that in order to have a successful safari business, they needed to have a good relationship with the communities around them.

“We built those relationships by asking questions like, ‘How can we assist in making your lives better?’, ‘What do you see as positive development for your community?’ and ‘What are your problems and what are your solutions to those problems?’,” notes Copham. “We didn’t want to come in and give people things that they didn’t need, we wanted to help them by having them guide us.”

Africa Foundation and Health Care

Africa Foundation has initiated numerous programs over the years, all of which have been driven by the specific needs of each community. One example was in the village of Mduku, rural KZN  where there was no local medical care, only a mobile clinic that passed by every two weeks. This mobile clinic comprised a vehicle and two nurses, offering no privacy to patients. It was always on a tight schedule and would stay for a couple of hours and then move on, often before everyone had been seen.  

Thanks to the Africa Foundation, Mduku now has a permanent clinic serviced by  a full spectrum of health professionals. It has several wards, as well as a women’s and maternity unit, and a specific wing for HIV and education. The clinic sees and treats over 100 patients a day, serving not only the local community but also people from neighboring communities. 

“We work alongside the governmental departments – the departments of health, education and social development etc. – to make sure that any structure that we put in place is going to be part of the government’s bigger picture and is going to be looked after and maintained long term,” notes Copham. 

The power of education

One of the pillars of Africa Foundation is education, and it is thanks to its work in local schools that the connection to the Global Conservation Corps (GCC) was made. The foundation had already started to organize game drives for the local children to teach them about wildlife and the importance of conservation and it quickly became evident how these trips were having a positive impact on the children.

Nonhlanhla Ambrose, Africa Foundation’s Program Manager, explains,  

“We did these game drives as often as we could, but as we grew, and really understood what it means to empower children in terms of conservation, we knew that we needed to do more than the game drives, more than just expose them to the Big Five. We needed it to become part of their learning from a very early age and hence this is why we started developing a curriculum that could easily be taught in a school setting.”

GCC’s Future Rangers Program

Through its Future Rangers Program, GCC has been actively working in local schools on a weekly basis with a curriculum that builds students’ appreciation of nature from the age of five. As the students progress through the program, GCC’s app tracks their progress, noting their work, activities, game drives, and safeguarding the information so they can use it to show to future employers or access further education in years to come. 

“When we met with GCC and understood how they are actively teaching in the schools with facilitators who deliver conservation lessons, it was a no brainer, we had to partner with them,” says Ambrose. “There is also the GCC app that is going to help us get tangible monitoring and evaluation results of the impact that this program is having in the schools.”

Looking to the future

Even though today marks the official collaboration between GCC and Africa Foundation, the two organizations have already successfully been working together to develop an educational curriculum for high school children, which is currently in its pilot year. “Having a collaborator like GCC will ensure that we really impact our communities, especially the young people. We are looking forward to having conservationists coming out of our communities in the next four to five years that have gone through our program and that is very exciting,” says Ambrose with a smile. 

Copham agrees: “For me, what is so exciting about this relationship is that we can create the spark in school and turn it into a career in conservation, and really have an impact in our communities. I hope that in years to come, we can completely bridge the gap and have conservationists from the communities, something that wasn’t anywhere near the radar when we started out 29 years ago.”

From the GCC side, the organization’s founder Matt Lindenberg knows how important this collaboration is going to be to boost the Future Rangers Program. “Working with the Africa Foundation brings increased community buy-in, established trust, and a commitment to the needs of communities. With such a large footprint across 6 African countries, Africa Foundation and &Beyond have pioneered beneficial relationships between the conservation and social sectors for a long time. It’s an immense honour to be joining forces for the betterment of both humanity and wildlife.”

The power of education

One of the pillars of Africa Foundation is education, and it is thanks to its work in local schools that the connection to the Global Conservation Corps (GCC) was made. The foundation had already started to organize game drives for the local children to teach them about wildlife and the importance of conservation and it quickly became evident how these trips were having a positive impact on the children.

Nonhlanhla Ambrose, Africa Foundation’s Program Manager, explains,

“We did these game drives as often as we could, but as we grew, and really understood what it means to empower children in terms of conservation, we knew that we needed to do more than the game drives, more than just expose them to the Big Five. We needed it to become part of their learning from a very early age and hence this is why we started developing a curriculum that could easily be taught in a school setting.”

GCC’s Future Rangers Program

Through its Future Rangers Program, GCC has been actively working in local schools on a weekly basis with a curriculum that builds students’ appreciation of nature from the age of five. As the students progress through the program, GCC’s app tracks their progress, noting their work, activities, game drives, and safeguarding the information so they can use it to show to future employers or access further education in years to come.

“When we met with GCC and understood how they are actively teaching in the schools with facilitators who deliver conservation lessons, it was a no brainer, we had to partner with them,” says Ambrose. “There is also the GCC app that is going to help us get tangible monitoring and evaluation results of the impact that this program is having in the schools.”

Looking to the future

Even though today marks the official partnership between GCC and Africa Foundation, the two organizations have already successfully been working together to create a Future Rangers Program for high school children, which is currently in its pilot year. “Having a partner like GCC will ensure that we really impact our communities, especially the young people. We are looking forward to having conservationists coming out of our communities in the next four to five years that have gone through our program and that is very exciting,” says Ambrose with a smile.

Copham agrees: “For me, what is so exciting about this partnership is that we can create the spark in school and turn it into a career in conservation, and really have an impact in our communities. I hope that in years to come, we can completely bridge the gap and have conservationists from the communities, something that wasn’t anywhere near the radar when we started out 29 years ago.”

From the GCC side, the organization’s founder Matt Lindenberg knows how important this partnership is going to be to boost the Future Rangers Program.

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