: " My stay was mostly at Hwange National Park
where I have lived and worked in the past.
I was welcomed back warmly by the local community, including parks employees, friends and local researchers.
did not appear with her
family until my last day there and it was truly a thrill when she
stepped out from behind a bush.
I immediately recognized her
generously stood and posed for quite some time.
The Dog Project has invited Wendy
to come and help establish an arts and crafts program as part of the Center.
Director Wendy Blakeley has been conferring with EarthTeam staff ( see Partners ) to develop a program whereby the student club members of Wildlife Clubs of Kenya can access a web chat room and share their concerns, questions and solutions to environmental problems with local student EarthTeam members.
To trigger interest, Wendy
recently made presentations to students of environmental science classes and conservation clubs in local high schools, whetting their enthusiasm for being the first in line to talk to the students in Kenya.
Both at Pinole Valley High School
and El Cerrito High, eyes popped and questions flew in response to the materials and slides Wendy
will be taking materials from River of Words ( see Projects) with her
to Zimbabwe as well as on-line to Kenya, to further encourage the use of artistic expression as a tool in the world of conservation.
Africa Matters Director Wendy Blakeley left for Zimbabwe the first of May to assist the Painted Dog Conservation project in establishing an arts and crafts program in their local community.
has found it interesting that in this culture and education program, most of the ï¿½artistsï¿½ are boys; very few girls come.
Needless to say she
is making an effort to make the sessions available to all!
It has been a rewarding effort ï¿½ already one youngster of 11 has been identified as extremely, naturally gifted and he
will be monitored and his
The goal is that as soon a s possible, the running of these crafts will be turned over to a locals, and thus not only providing income for those making crafts, but open up a managerial jobs for a few others.
All of this will depend upon finding viable markets for their goods.
will assist in locating vendors in the U.S. when Wendy
brings back the first sample products in September.
If anyone is interested and has experience in marketing we would be delighted to hear from you.
Part of the intent is to educate the local community to the value of conservation and so there is an effort in all of this to start to steer craftspeople away from curios carved from trees they cut.
Deforestation due to the need for fuel is something hard to control, but cutting trees that can bee 100 years old for the roadside curio industry is something that can be addressed.
When the Exhibit Hall at the Community Conservation and Education Center
(CCED) opens, there will be a small shop where visitors will be able to purchase these crafts.
In addition to the Crafts workshops, Wendy
has been asked to contribute her
expertise from her
form ï¿½lifeï¿½ in the performing arts, by coaching a group of young performance artists, Ingoyama.
They have been formed with the specific purpose of presenting plays in the local communities and school about conservation.
Their style is traditional and they incorporate traditional song and dance into their work.
These thirteen young people ranging in age from 15 to 21 have gained a lot of attention ï¿½ which Wendy reports is much deserved.
will bring video and audiotapes with her
to have available and promote this group.
arrived at the Painted Dog Conservation Project in May of 2003 having accepted the invitation to initiate an Arts and Crafts program for them in the local area around Hwange National Park
The goal was to promote sustainable use of natural resources while developing marketable arts and crafts to improve the economic status of people in this area, which has been hard hit by the near disappearance of the tourist trade, and rampant inflation in Zimbabwe over the last several years.
Immediately upon her arrival, the staff of another research station, the Hwange Lion Research, approached Wendy Blakeley, knowing of her background in theatre, and asked if she would take on the task as acting coach and artistic consultant to INGONYAMA.
This is a group made up of young people from the area on the northern edges of Hwange National Park
, more specifically, the community of Dete.
It was formed in 2003 with the mission of taking conservation education to local schools in the form of drama and dance, with emphasis on the issue of responsibility for the care of the land and animals.
They have developed a style of theatre that is a unique fusion of contemporary and innovative techniques, resulting in a repertoire that unfailingly enchants their audiences, be they children or adults, locals or foreigners.
They have also have earned a well-deserved reputation for their performances of traditional songs and dances.
was thrilled to find theatrical talent of this caliber in the group, who were however in need of assistance to improve their performance techniques and in developing new materials.
Both the Dog Project Staff and Wendy
were more than glad to assist them since the work fulfills goals common to all Conservation projects whether aimed at a specific animal (Dogs, Lions) and the broader aims of responsible use of land and wildlife.
found this an exciting, challenging and rewarding partnership.
will continue to coach their work in 2004, to continue improving their performance skills and develop new material.
Africa matters founder and Board President, Wendy Blakeley has spent the major portion of both 2004 and 2005 in Dete, Zimbabwe.
If you would like to volunteer your assistance (A) at our table at WCN Expo selling Iganayana Arts and Crafts and promoting Africa Matters
, you will get free admission to the Expo. and the possibility of attending some of the lectures by major movers in wildlife conservation from around the globe. (B) assist us in organizing the Africa Mattes Fund raiser
scheduled as above Contact: Wendy Blakeley
in Oakland at 510/655-4528 Or firstname.lastname@example.org
Since 2003 Director Wendy Blakeley has been coaching, teaching and advising this local group of young men.
Though they regret having to leave families behind, and Wendy
mourns their absence, they are able to earn hard cash and so manage to use their talents to support their artistic work.
will be in California from mid-September until December 1 2006 . If you are interested in a presentation to your group, students, etc. Please email email@example.com or phone Barry Blakeley at 510-663-5397 in California.
Still these people manage always to smile and greet you, children jump up and wave and shout when I drive past (ï¿½kiwa, or Wendy); they take education deadly serious, and yes, even sing and dance at the least chance.
did a tiny bit of acting/stage craft training.
Submitted by Director, Wendy Blakeley
Director Wendy Blakeley's namesake: "Wendy", matriarch of the "W" family in the Presidential Elephant Herd...2001
Elephant injured by snares outside Hwange National Park
with Louis Presente and Mr Banda, local craftsmen from Mabale.
rehearsing with drama group Ingonyama
and drama group Ingonyama
on the Victoria Falls Bridge in July of 2003 for a performance
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Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org All photos by Wendy Blakeley