Give something back
Botswana is one of the richer of the developing nations, but despite this you may see scenes of poverty when you are visiting the country, especially in more rural areas. Beggars are fairly rare in the towns, but often the least able are dependent on charity. Whilst giving a few coins to people is one way to put a sticking plaster over your feelings of guilt, this is not a long-term solution.
There are ways in which you can make a positive contribution, but they require more effort than giving to someone on the street, and perhaps this is the least you can do after an enjoyable trip to Botswana?
There is an established, trustworthy and reliable network of charities, churches and NGOs (non-government organisation). If you really want to help, then contact someone and make it happen!
Local charities working in Botswana
One good source of information on NGOs is the website of the Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO), at www.bocongo.bw. They can also be contacted on tel: 3911319; fax: 3912935; email: email@example.com. Their website is a good reference site giving a brief synopsis of many of the country's groups doing valuable work. It doesn't include all charities, but is a good start to your research.
Helping poorer communities
Botswana has a whole range of good, small charities working at grassroots level to improve the lot of the poorest members of society here, and help them to develop economically. A few which concentrate on the north of the country, include:Chobe Enclave Conservation Trust
PO Box 91, Kavimba; tel: 3950486; fax: 3950746; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. A village trust that aims to support the sustainable management of the Chobe enclave's natural resources for the benefit of the local community.COCEPWA c/o Maun General Hospital
PO Box 12, Maun; tel: 6864758; fax: 6864758. This 'coping centre' provides support for people infected with HIV/AIDS.Ditshwanelo (The Botswana Centre for Human Rights)
P Bag 416, Gaborone; tel: 3906998; fax: 3907778; email: email@example.com. Involved all over Botswana, including a base in Kasane, Ditshwanelo works with poorer communities on a range of issues including access to water and the Chobe River.Thuso Lutheran Rehabilitation Centre
P Bag 40, Thitoyamoda, Maun; tel: 6864076; fax: 6860539; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Rehabilitation centre for disabled people in the community, providing vocational skills' training such as gardening, knitting, sewing and computing.
Helping the wildlife
The first thing to do if you want to help protect Botswana's wilder areas is to travel there, often; the income generated by tourism is the main hope to enable these areas to survive and thrive in the long-term.
The second thing to do is to support organisations like the Botswana Society, the Kalahari Conservation Society, the Okavango Wildlife Society, and the Chobe Society. All of these do very good work in promoting knowledge of Botswana's wilder areas, and some work in campaigning for environmental and social issues.
In addition, helping the country's poorer communities (see above) will, ultimately, also help preserve the wildlife areas, as without sustainable economic development there's little long-term hope for the wildlife.
There are also several good small charities that we know which are working for different small-scale, but non the less important projects:
White rhino have been successfully re-introduced to Moremi Game Reserve and there are plans in hand to re-introduce the black rhino as well. However, this requires significant financial support. For details, contact Grant Woodrow at the Environmental Division of Okavango Wilderness Safaris, P/Bag 014, Maun, Botswana; tel: +267 660 086; fax: +267 660 632.
Botswana's only animal orphanage is in Francistown, and is owned by the Uncharted Safari Company, PO Box 173, Francistown; tel: 241 2277; fax: 241 3458; email: email@example.com; web: www.unchartedafrica.co.bw. In order to care for the animals in natural environment, the company is trying to raise sufficient money to move the orphanage to community land in the hills outside Francistown.