A Sensative topic and not necessarily a bad one… Yes Africa may need help, but what I have always believed is to rather teach a man to fish rather than give him a fish, meaning that if you teach him to fish he will have an endless supply rather than one fish that keeps him asking for more. This topic is my opinion and is based on my ideas and experience and may not necessarily be 100% factual, but I believe that most of what I have seen and experienced as a Guide and Tour leader, is to a certain extent fact, and I invite comments and ideas around this topic.
Education is sadly under funded and not as accessible to the rural community in Africa as it should be, and even though there are several organisations that are doing their best to improve this, it is a large problem that would take years of work and buckets of funds. I believe that Education would solve many of Africa’s problems, especially poaching of african wildlife, becuase people need to survive and Poaching is an easier source of income, made easier by syndicates offering a a very small percentage of what the syndicates actually end up getting paid for the poached animal. And most of the cases the poachers end up going to jail or even worse get killed trying to provide for their families.
A large portion of rural Africans survive on subsistance farming, growing maize, cassava, and farming cattle, goats and chickens. And this doesnt necessarliy make them poor, however it is definately a hard way to make a living, where some areas have periodic rain falls and limited resources, which can hinder to a substance farmer’s ability to produce for his family. A large number of subsistance farmers live in traditional houses, that are made from earth, trees and grass. Most of the time these families dont earn an income, and as education is not for free in Africa, an therefore almost impossible to send their children to school, and if they do earn an income, and they see the value of education, they will send their eldest son to school. As monetary resources are low they believe that their daughters will get married some day and therefore education is not as important.
When on safari, we often stop to visit a village or stop on the side of the road for a comfort break or picnic, and we occassionaly get in undated with curious villagers. The first reaction from guests is to donate, and my advice on this matter is to rather make donations to organised charities.
Villages that we visit on tour are been helped, in that part of of your tour fee would be contributed to that village, and even staying in community based projects where the villages may even own the property or camp site that we stay at; if a guest want to contribute to this village we organise that they send educational packages from their home country or schools, which in turn go to the local village schools. One particular school in Zululand has had a library built on the funds from tours and children have had their school fees and uniforms and stationery paid for by tourists that donate funds. The reason for this is to have a controlled environment that would essentially mean that the funds would be used appropriately for future growth and actually go towards what the funds or benefits are intended.
If you as a guest, want to contribute while you are on Safari, an alternative way, is to donate pens and stationary as these items are hard to come by, and normally an expense for the families. So before you leave home pack a small bag of stationery items.
We also promote spending local, and buying products locally produced.
Even though this topic focused on Education, I believe that education is the foundation to empower people to help themselves. There are many problems in Africa that need solutions, for example Malaria, Medicine etc. and there are organisations that focus on these issues.
Remember very effort, no matter how small it may be, contributes to the future of a child in Africa.