CITW: a community focus in the time of Covid-19

Cultures & Communities


Josephine Bestic


Founded some two decades ago by Wilderness Safaris, after hosting the late Paul Newman and learning about his inspirational Association of Hole in the Wall camps, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is the driving force behind the company’s life-changing focus on Community. Committed to the leadership development and environmental education of rural children in Africa, CITW’s vision is to “inspire positive action” throughout the company’s areas of operation.


Greetings from Children in the Wilderness



Never has this focus been more important than now, with all the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, and CITW is privileged to be able to continue assisting its regional communities, despite numerous countries’ lockdowns. Take a moment to be inspired by this roundup of uplifting stories from our regions below, and join us in making a difference by donating now.





Spreading Seeds, Not COVID-19



In Zimbabwe, the CITW Zambezi team has managed to secure seeds for their Tsholotsho schools’ veggie gardens. Sent with the resupply vehicle to Wilderness Safaris’ Hwange camps, and then distributed to each school by one of the headmasters, these are being planted as soon as possible so that vegetables can be harvested before winter sets in. Any further seed donations will be gratefully accepted! Read more here.




Essential Supplies for 565 Bisate Villagers



In Rwanda, villagers are feeling the impact through a decline in jobs, and the inability to sell their arts and crafts to visitors, as well as sales of their fresh produce to lodges. Thanks to our amazingly generous Bisate guests, we have been able to commit to a monthly supply of more than three tons of essential maize, beans and soap to our neighbours, for at least the next three months – and longer if necessary. Read all about it.


Essential Supplies for Okavango Community Trust



Wilderness Safaris Botswana Supports Community Partners During COVID-19 Lockdown



In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, community leaders and other individuals, the COVID-19 Committee of Seronga compiled a list of essentials for the Okavango Community Trust (OCT), including items such as toilet paper, tissues, detergents, sanitisers and rubber gloves, as well as antibacterial body- and hand soaps. Wilderness Safaris then purchased these materials, and Wilderness Air donated the flights and use of two aircraft to deliver these much needed items to this remote corner of the Delta. Read the full update here.


"UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. "

Programme Trainer Kirsty van der Want, and the wisdom of Dr Seuss, inspire Eco-Mentors during a training session in early March. Read all our recent updates from Namibia.


For a comprehensive roundup of our 2019 activities, don’t miss our annual Eco-Stars magazine – download it here.




CITW Programme Structure



An understanding of our programme structure goes a long way to a better appreciation of our community engagement. More than 7 800 children have been hosted on annual CITW camps since 2001. CITW’s weekly Eco-Clubs reach over 3 300 children in rural community schools across seven countries, while 1 000 or more teachers and Eco-Mentors are trained on the programme, and 600+ children are supported on the scholarship programme annually.




All about CITW: Watch our 5-minute video here:


Okavango Community Trust Wilderness Impact Partner
Okavango Community Trust Wilderness Impact Partner
Okavango Community Trust Wilderness Impact Partner
Okavango Community Trust Wilderness Impact Partner
Okavango Community Trust Wilderness Impact Partner
Okavango Community Trust Wilderness Impact Partner

Food Hampers for Botswana’s Sankoyo Community


After a request from Sankoyo village elder, Kgosi Moalosi for essential supplies, we were able to source and arrange the transport of these goods to the village. “Community is one of Wilderness’ core values, and we are so glad to assist all 80 of the families, not only during these difficult times but for the many years we have been working together”, noted Botswana Operations Manager Neil Steedman at the handover. See more pics and read the full update here.




Other Regional Activity



Meanwhile, up until the various country lockdowns in mid-March, all the regions had been extremely busy – as usual...


Botswana went into lockdown on 2 April 2020, but before then Shashe Primary School’s Eco-Club members were very hands-on in their vegetable garden!


Read all our recent updates from Botswana.




In February, CITW awarded 80 six-year scholarships, valued at USD120 000, to learners at Bisate Secondary School – the scholarships will cover school fees, books and uniforms costs for the full duration of their secondary school education.


Read all our recent updates from Rwanda.




From assisting with a new solar pump for Lupani Primary School’s borehole to the distribution of solar lights at rural schools around Livingstone, our team has been spending quality time in Zambia.


Read all our recent updates from Zambia.




After being raised by his uncle who was a poacher in Liwonde, Eliot Felix wants nothing more than to see his community understand the benefits of wildlife conservation and the fruits of ecotourism.


Read all our recent updates from Malawi.





Implementing income-generating projects is an important community initiative for CITW, and at Jabulani outside Victoria Falls, a paper-making initiative has proven to be particularly successful.


Read all our recent updates from Zimbabwe.

Jabulani Papermaking Wilderness Impact
Jabulani Papermaking Wilderness Impact
Jabulani Papermaking Wilderness Impact
Jabulani Papermaking Wilderness Impact
Jabulani Papermaking Wilderness Impact
Jabulani Papermaking Wilderness Impact



Every day is Mother Earth Day for CITW Eco-Clubs, and our compendium of energisers, games and activities is the ideal reference manual for Eco-Mentors and home-schooling parents, alike.


Read all our recent updates from South Africa.


Let’s plan your next journey


When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.