Things have been busy for my first month atKasankaNational Park. After the food processing workshop, we moved on to planning the next workshops. The plan was to host two more in May – one on business skills and marketing for co-operative members and one on income generating activities for former poachers. Due to scheduling and whatever else, we moved these to the end of the month. I got put in charge of the business skills workshop, which is interesting. I understand the concepts of business (mostly, anyway) but I have no idea on how to explain macroeconomics, utility, and profit margins to villagers (or anyone else for that matter!). I don’t even think most of it can be translated into Bemba. But I’ll give it a try.
We also hosted a workshop aimed at improving guiding services and other customer service ideas with Open Africa. Open Africa is the organization (based in South Africa) that is coordinating eco-tourism “routes” around Southern Africa. (Their website is www.openafrica.org.) Basically, they promote “Afrikatourism” – tourism that is based on Africa’s strengths and designed to meetAfrica’s needs. It is a chance to promote experiences that you can only have inAfrica. They rely heavily on community participation and sustainability, so it gives you a chance to really experience all ofAfrica – not just a game park or fancy lodge (although that is definitely part of it as well!).
Kasanka is part of the “Nsobe Sitatunga Experience”. It consists of Kasanka, the David Livingstone Memorial, Lake Waka Waka,LavushiMandaNational Park, and a few other local attractions. I really enjoyed the workshop – it was fun to be on the inside and not just a tourist. But I hope I was able to contribute at least a little from the tourist perspective. Which leads me to my next point: I’m planning to work with two communities in the area to put together some “cultural tourism” – basically village tours. So, as a prospective tourist toZambia, what would you want to see ofZambiaculture? One of the villages is near the Livingstone Memorial (Livingstone actually died there in 1873, his heart and innards are buried there but his body is actually at Westminster Abbey) so there is a huge potential for tourists. I haven’t been to monument yet (it’s about 40km away) but I’ve heard that it isn’t that impressive. I’m hoping to add some value, so people have a better experience and learn more aboutZambia. So what would you like to see/do/experience in a Zambian village?
So that’s what I’ve been up to for the first month atKasankaNational Park. It has been a good first month, and I’m excited for what the next year will bring. I’m still trying to figure out when exactly I’ll be back in the States –Zambiais supposed to have an election in September, but the exact dates haven’t been decided. Should be interesting.