Our feature story today is on Advanced Diploma of Photography student Anne McCallum who journeyed to Zambia in June to help promote conservation of wildlife. We sat down with Anne to speak about her experience.
How did you come to be involved in this trip?
Last year, my daughter and her friend came up with the idea to head to Zambia to make a short film about the Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust (CWET). My daughter's friend had been to Zambia with a school group about 4 years ago and was telling my daughter about the experience. This organisation runs groups within schools and into the communities promoting conservation.
I became involved when my daughter got a job in Iceland and couldn't get time off to go to Zambia. The girls asked me if I would like to be involved and be part of the team.
Can you tell us about your experience?
What an amazing experience! This was my first trip to Zambia, actually my first trip to Africa! We travelled to a town called Mfuwe, which is right on the edge of the South Luangwa National Park. This is one of the best National parks in Africa as it always has water - there are several natural springs, so the animals can live there all year round without having to do massive migrations to follow water. Consequently there is a huge range and population of many animals species. Due to this there is a blossoming tourist industry which creates employment for the local people, however this leads to the need for education about caring for their environment and living sustainably (to keep the animals safe and encourage eco-friendly tourism). This is where CWET comes into play with their education and community programmes. The aim of the video is to show CWET at work and the importance of their contribution.
Some of the best moments while in Zambia, included the opportunity to actually go on drives into the National Park and see the animals in their natural environment. My biggest thrill would have to be seeing 3 leopards in one morning. We also had the joy of seeing giraffes and elephants just wandering by the side of the road, and one night we actually had a hippo in the garden of our lodge. Of course there are lots of vervet monkeys and baboons, if you happen to leave your room door unlocked they do like to get in and investigate everything. There is a now a monkey roaming around with a nice tinted moisturiser - not sure if it is the right colour for her.
What was it like getting an insight into the local culture?
The local people are absolutely charming and so welcoming and the children extremely adorable and happy. Education is considered very important, but it is not always easy as both uniform and books have to be paid for and they are not always affordable. Another problem is that the children cannot move to the next grade without completing the current one. Some years they can't afford to go to school so the classes end up being multi age groups which they all find quite acceptable and normal. Any student wishing to further their studies can't do so without sponsorship.
In reflecting on your trip since you arrived back home, have you noticed a change in your perception?
This was an amazing opportunity for me and I feel that I have gained insight into their community. I think the biggest question is how do we as a developed nation help a developing nation to develop, without making all the mistakes that we have made?? How can they skip the pollution problems, the diet and health problems and the conservation problems?
We hope that our video and photographs will help provide an insight into this community and maybe help solve some of the problems.
I would definitely love to be involved in other projects along this line!