A few weeks ago we had thirteen very special day visitors at Siwandu - our first group of Selous Safari Kids! The pilot project began last season with the idea of engaging the younger generation of our local community with the importance of tourism for not only revenue and employment but also teaching them that conserving the environment and the wildlife is of the utmost importance for their future life and also for future generations.
Our first group was chosen from children of our own staff members - proud fathers were able to show their offspring where they went to work and what they did in camp. The children were collected from Mloka and after passing Mtemere Gate were given their first ever game drive through Selous before arriving at camp at 9am. After plenty of "karibunis", the group split up into smaller groups and visited different work stations around the camp. They went to the restaurant and learnt how to set a table and a waiter's daily routine as well as what they needed to focus on in school to become a waiter.
They visited their fathers in the tents and were taught how to clean the rooms and ensure the guests were always comfortable. They went to see Joseph, our Maintenance fundi and found out more about the many plumbing and electrical systems we have in place and specifically studied how we filter our own water from our bore hole and our huge solar system and how both these systems ensure our camp is as eco-friendly as possible.
They went to the kitchen and were told about the menu and under the guidance of Edmund, our head chef, they made croissants - Mohammed's son, seen in these photos, has since asked his father if he can go to Cookery School as he wants to become a chef.
They also had a guided walk around the camp by Emiel & Mpoto and told about guiding, where to go to college and what the benefits are of learning to be a guide. Selemani, who has worked with Selous Safari Company for over 20 years, told us his daughter, Nuru, now wants to be a guide. There were also trips to see the stores, time with the security guards and also time talking to our administrative team on how to learn computer skills and where they learnt.
After lunch with their fathers they went for a boat cruise to see more of the wildlife we are passionate about protecting and then over tea and cake they spoke to the camp managers and ranger about the effects pollution and poaching is having on Selous Game Reserve and how they can help and protect it for the future.
It was a marvellous day - fantastic for the fathers to share their day-to-day life with their children with fun and learning for the children, some of whom have changed their career paths to be able to join the tourism industry when they grow up. We hope they returned from their visit, not only with a goodie bag donated with pens and paper by Lizzie Williams, one of our visiting guests, but also spreading the word that tourism helps all facets of their community and we should all help one another protect Selous Game Reserve for generations to come.