Whenever a holiday approaches, I always look forward to a wonderful time out. To me, my holiday is when I set out to see places I haven’t set foot on or do something unique that will linger on in my memory for a long time. This summer won’t be different and Kasane in Botswana is the place I am going to spend a good part of my holiday.
What is the catch in Kasane
What is the unique thing to do in Kasane this summer you may ask? Do not worry; it is volunteer vacation for me this summer! How long have you done something for someone or people who really can’t pay you back? I learnt that is the best service we can offer to humanity. Guess what, against what you probably have thought, this vacation is going to be a win-win! In Kasane, I will be killing two birds with a stone: offering volunteer service and connecting with the people and the society using the same opportunity to explore the rich wildlife that is the main highlight of this city’s adventure.
Where actually is Kasane
In case you do not know Kasane, let me bring you up to speed. The city is located in one of Africa’s most politically stable country, Botswana—Southern Africa. Strategically, Kasane is located on the mighty Chobe River at the meeting point of four countries—Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Actually, Kasane is not a place people go because it is touristic; rather, it is touristic because people have to go there. The rationale is simple; the town is the gateway to the Chobe National Park, it is 6 km from Kazungula the border post between Botswana and Zimbabwe and is a crossroad for anyone heading to Victoria Falls from Botswana. This explains why Kasane, which was once a remote and somewhat forgettable village, is now a bustling and thriving community. There are decent accommodation facilities in the city and, in addition to wildlife safari, art bluff have the African Easel Art Gallery where they could appreciate African art.
The win-win Deal in Kasane
Anyway, every city has it challenges and Kasane is not an exemption. This is where I intend to make myself useful this summer. As with most developing countries, the city is home to a sizable population of poor people as well as a number of people with disability (PWDs). Accommodation challenge is one of the issues facing local poor; while there are also on-going efforts at preserving the games, especially African elephants.
I may not be able to give all that is needed to end poverty in the city, but I look forward to contributing my efforts towards stemming its tide. I hope my little bit will help put smiles on the faces of PWDs and contribute to the campaign against wildlife poaching. As the saying goes, a help to your neighbour is a help offered to oneself because what goes around comes around; and did you ever get the gist of the saying: when you point a finger at others, four are actually directed at you, don’t ask me if that is the bargaining chip for the trip.
The thought of doing this first crossed my mind when I read about the works of Habitat for Humanity in Botswana. This organization understands that there is a gap in the accommodation needs of the local people and has thought it wise to fill the void. Sometime around 2000, the Habitat’s Global Village program started mixing tourism with its missions: For example, it introduced a 19-day Botswana trip which included side trips to Victoria Falls, white-water rafting, a game drive and cultural exchanges, along with its building activities. This trip costs about $4,000 covering a donation to the building fund in Kasane, medical insurance, housing, ground transportation, meals, administration fees and round-trip air fare to Africa. Some of those who participated were college students seeking an inexpensive, meaningful summer abroad, professionals on sabbatical and retirees and others who want a grass-roots sense of the cultures they visit and an engagement you can’t have from a cruise ship or tour bus.
To me, that is a win-win! In fact, it is like receiving much more than you gave. There are similar offers if one search the web for it. I was told that the mantra for this kind of experience is: ”Keep your sense of humour, learn to operate as a group, and don’t expect everything to go exactly as planned.” I know the wit will come handy on this trip.
Whatever it is that Kasane holds I know I only live once, but if I live it right, once is just good enough. I look forward to having this experience as one of the live-it-rights I will have in my lifetime.
Usifo Mike-Alvin is a creative writer with knack for budget traveling and adventure. He travels across Africa and reports for www.afrotourism.com