Harnessing the beauty of Namibia’s wilderness for the next generation

By By Honorine Kaze
September 2011
Travel and Tourism

One of Namibia’s greatest assets is its rich natural heritage. Namibia is known worldwide for its wildlife and the unique habitats that give life to the flora and fauna.

Visitors from all corners of the globe come to Namibia to experience the vast unusual landscapes that contribute to the growth of the tourism industry.

Efforts are underway to offer this kind of journey to children from all corners of Namibia as well.

Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is a non-profit organisation supported by Wilderness Safaris dedicated to helping disadvantaged Namibian children experience the beauty and potential of the wild in Namibia and beyond.

For five weeks each year, Wilderness Safaris closes its doors to paying guests at one of its luxury lodges, opening them to Children in the Wilderness for a series of week-long camps.

Namibia’s beautiful landscape becomes the platform for CITW’s experiential learning programs. The main goal of Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is to help these young Namibians cope with life’s challenges and to educate, empower and inspire them to be all that they can be.

Campers learn about the environment, health and participate in games and exercises that encourage self-awareness and healthy decisions.

The idea behind this program, according to Stefanus Nangombe, Program Coordinator, is to provide life skills, education and opportunity to vulnerable children of Namibia.

“The opportunity to leave home and gather with other children in a supportive and emotionally safe environment often gives kids a boost in feeling open to take in new information and discover new things about themselves.”

Nangombe believes that children can discover their talents and interests during camp and that ‘feeling special’ is a big part of helping children to be resilient and face challenges in their lives.”

Through activities like guided walks, rhino tracking, and game drives, campers learn about wildlife and ecology. The children also learn about the importance of conservation and the roles that people play in deciding how to use natural resources.

The program also teaches children about health issues and important decisions they face. Older campers address risks and challenges of HIV/ Aids.

Nangombe says sessions and activities, “try to give them a better understanding of the disease and how they can consider choices in life”.

Nangombe adds, “We use the experience of the wilderness to separate ourselves from the course of normal daily life and focus on these children.”