Wilderness Safaris' non-profit partner, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) hosts annual camps for children between the ages of 10 and 17 who actively participate in their Eco-Club programme. These camps are often life-changing experiences, and provide an introduction to the life skills and values necessary to one day becoming great leaders and conservationists. Often, during these four day camps hosted at Wilderness Safaris camps or partner lodges, an interest is sparked, a seed of thought is planted, and a passion is born.
In Namibia, Wilderness Safaris Desert Rhino Camp’s Edison Gevin Awarab grew up on a farm named Persianer, not too far away from the nature reserve in which the camp is situated, Palmwag. In 2005, he joined CITW as a camper, where he learned to care for the environment in a sustainable way, and to conserve it for future generations.
As Edison says, “I learned about recycling and saving, and the importance of the ecosystem, and the biological interaction with science. I learned to be contemporary in my approach to nature. I fell in love with nature when I saw the beautiful landscapes that Damaraland possesses – and that was the beginning of my dream, my journey to becoming an environmental activist, and in 2008 I joined the YES (Youth Environmental Stewardship) programme”. While his favourite things about the camps were the game drives and making lots of new friends, it was the delicious food that really piqued his interest.
After seeing how the chefs were preparing the food, Edison decided he too wanted to be a chef. He joined Palmwag Lodge in the scullery, washing dishes and picking up a few skills from the other chefs. Two years later, he moved on to Desert Rhino Camp. The malva pudding dessert he had on camp back in 2005 inspired him to become curious about desserts.
One day he hopes to use food to express himself, and so, while working as part of the kitchen team at Desert Rhino Camp, he has been developing his passion for cooking, “I love cooking because I can play with different ingredients, and see the end product plus the satisfaction on people’s faces when they eat the food I have prepared”, Edison says, “Malva Pudding is now my signature dish, along with Indian Rice Pilaf and Portuguese Chicken, either with crispy potatoes or couscous or rice. I also love a good braai!”
“My advice to the aspiring kids", he says, “is stay focused, stay grounded; work, believe in your abilities and derive a mindset that can lead you to success. Be optimistic. I was washing dishes in the kitchen and just checking out what the chefs were doing until I become one. You have to be in it with hard work to make it”.
Edison is a shining example of the success of the CITW programme – nurturing the passion born in his African heritage, to come full circle back to working for Wilderness Safaris.