Melvin Sambo, Andrea Campbell and a group of Londolozi Rangers and Trackers recently visited Good Work Foundation’s Hazyview Digital Learning Centre (HDLC).
They were invited to talk under the Digital Tree of Knowledge. The audience: young rural students. The subject: walking towards fear.
He’s from a small village. Very small. “And most of my friends weren’t interested in learning. But – as a young man – I met a missionary, and he started to teach me English. A little bit more every day. I could communicate well.”
Melvin was hired as a Tour Guide in the Kruger National Park, and then, a few years later, he got the opportunity to enroll in an elite Ranger course in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The course required him to resign from the security of his job as a Tour Guide. But, there was a catch, of the 20 trainee Rangers, only five would be selected.
“I took the risk. Walked down ‘the road less traveled’. And worked hard. And I got the job. And that job led me here to Londolozi, one of the world’s most famous lodges.”
She’s always loved nature, loved tracking, loved engaging with people. But this young Londolozi trainee Ranger couldn’t hold up a rifle. It was just too heavy.
“You can’t qualify as an accredited Field Guide without being able to operate a rifle… accurately. And I just couldn’t do it. The only girl in the group. The only one struggling with firearms.”
Andrea’s answer: push-ups.
“Every night I told myself, ‘drop and give me 50’ and that’s what I did. For a small girl I’m now pretty strong, and I can easily handle a rifle. Check out this bicep.”
Sharing the Story
Over 100 young students from Shabalala village (approximately 80 kilometers from Londolozi) listened intently to the stories of Melvin and Andrea. As part of their year-long course at HDLC, each individual in this group had chosen, in one way or another, to walk towards fear. In fact, in the morning of the Londolozi visit, each one of the students had presented a topic in English to an audience of more than fifty people, as part of a business for English module. Many of the students had considered “opting out” (some even thought about “dropping out”) but each of them, sweaty palms and quivering voices, had stood up in front of a large crowd and spoken for five minutes in a language that is not their first.
Andrea wanted to connect with the young women in the audience. She wanted them to know that changing tyres and training with firearms is not just for men. If a young woman is passionate about nature, and about interpreting the bush and telling its stories, then she should not be held back by stereotypes.
Melvin wanted the students to understand the importance of storytelling, of communicating clearly and communicating with impact. He couldn’t do that without English. Certain doors would never have opened for him.
Walking towards Fear
Fear had the power to stop both Melvin and Andrea. But they moved forward into the unknown. And – whatever the outcome – it’s challenging ourselves personally that yields the biggest result. In failure and in success.
Now that’s a lesson worthy of sharing under the “Tree”.
Londolozi has been a partner of the not-for-profit organisation, Good Work Foundation (GWF), since 2007. GWF uplifts rural communities through access to world-class education. GWF was one of the first organisations in Africa to bring tablet computing and learning apps to rural learners, and now, they are the only sub-Saharan site working with Stanford University on cloud-based learning. Their state-of-the-art Digital Learning Centres, including Londolozi Digital Learning Centre and Hazyview Digital Learning Centre, are made up of academies that deliver basic literacy and career-training to school-aged and adult learners. In 2013, 120 adult learners, including chefs, trackers and housekeeping personnel from Londolozi, graduated with their International Computer Driving Licenses.