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" I really enjoyed being here. Since my mom died this was the first time in a long time that I am really happy again. I am gonna miss my new friends too. I lived really healthy and comfy here. I learned a lot about the animals and plants I wish that I am gonno see you all again. It is a wonderful world out there". Patricia from Windhoek " I will always remember everyone who was with me at the camp. Especially I will remember new friends, staff and I will remember the chef until the last day of my life. I will remember the chocolate cake we ate on the first day. I will remember the beautiful mountains and the very big Hoanib River. What I will remember most are my new friends". Selina, 15, from Sesfontein Namibian Voices 44 Travel Namibia T wice a year, two of Namibia's top lodges close their doors to tourists and instead welcome groups of orphaned or vulnerable local schoolchildren. All these young people have had their childhoods disrupted by poor health, poverty and HIV. In the six- day camps Wilderness Safaris aim to give the children back their confidence and dreams for the future. " It is amazing to see the change in the children over the course of the camps," says Sarah Omura, Programme Coordinator of Children in the Wilderness Namibia. " At first they are quite shy and scared of the unfamiliar surroundings, but with the love and support from our dedicated team of staff the children began to grow in self- confidence and esteem and by the end of the camps they go home filled with a new sense of hope and purpose." Part of the magic of camp is created by ensuring the emotional and physical safety of each child; creating a culture of positive feedback, encouraging supportive relationships with other children and staff and adding a healthy measure of laughter. The camps take place in the Namib Desert at Kulala Wilderness Camp, or in Damaraland, home to the endangered black rhino, at the Rhino Desert Lodge. For many of the children it is the first time they have ventured outside their small communities. The camps make some of the world's best environmental classrooms. The interaction with local guides, conservationists and lodge management creates a fantastic opportunity for the children to develop new insights into the value of conservation and ecotourism in this country. We could write pages about this fabulous project, but these pictures and the letters the young people write at the end of their camps say it so much better. C hildren Wilderness in the M ichael Poliza

Travel Namibia 45 Off on the elephant walk. Children learn about the desert- adapted elephant, how to manage the conflict between humans and elephants, and why it is important to conserve the animal for future generations. Oh… and it's fun too. LEF T: Workshops cover everything from conservation to AIDS and HIV counselling below: An outdoors classroom Wilderness Safaris Wilderness Safaris