It was back in March 2015 when Baye first reached out to us. Her new wildlife rescue center, Free to be Wild, was in danger of losing its small 6 acre plot in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Baye needed help and we were happy to respond.
Now, three years later a confident young rehabber walks into the café to greet us. It has been a bit over two years since we last met here. Baye joined us for breakfast with a newly rescued baby baboon! This time, no animal in tow only confidence.
We spend the next hour catching up over lunch. After going it alone with her right hand man Khumbulane for four years she finally has more help. Aimee and Alec Vincent, are two of her new trustees. Both are young, enthusiastic, and willing to get their hands dirty.
Aimee started a Wildlife Warriors camp for children. A monthly three-hour program educating the next generation and bringing in much needed revenue for the center. Thirty-one children attended the camp the day we visited the rescue center. Baye was tickled and most grateful. Especially, as several children clearly remembered what they’d learned at their last camp. Like how Tippi the resident klipspringer marks his territory.
As the children were lining up ready to leave I asked them what they’d learned. Hands shot up eager to respond. The most telling answer was, “I learned that we must protect our wildlife.” When I followed up with, “Why?” She quickly came back with, “Because we don’t want any animals to get hurt.” Yes, education works.
After the children departed we interviewed Baye. We learned more about how Free to be Wild got started. How last year was a terrible year and she was so afraid it would all fall apart. How these last few months have been grand with Amy, Alec and Katy (who we didn’t meet) coming on board. How Khumbulane has trained Dingani to care for the animals and the center.
She told us about her biggest challenge… funding. In particular covering the fixed costs. On exploring that we found that paying her Guardians of the Wild (Khumbulane and Dingani) were her biggest worries. Without them she couldn’t rescue, care for and release the wildlife in trouble. Plus, they relied on their jobs to feed their families.
Right there Russ and I decided we wanted to sponsor Khumbulane. We’d met him before. We’d actually been so inspired by his work with Baye and his passion for the wildlife he cared for that we created an Award. “Caught ’em doing good for wildlife” and presented him with $100.
Baye almost cried. With the cash we had with us (best way to make donations to avoid all the bank fees and other complications) a six month sponsorship was possible. The goal is to of course bring that up to a regular one year sponsorship with your help. All it takes is $2,400!
Helping is easy.
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