Making a difference at the AEC
April 25 2014

The ALERT Education Centre (AEC) in Gweru has recently said goodbye to its first intern.  Canadian Jenna Ackles joined the ALERT Internship Program as a Conservation Education intern to assist with teaching at the Centre.  During her time on the program, Jenna worked with students from Mkoba Primary School, who thoroughly enjoyed meeting her.  In all, she supported 53 students and was delighted to attend their graduation day at the end of the course.  Staben Porovha, the AEC teacher, had this to say about the ceremony:

‘Friday April 11th, 2014 was another day for celebration at the ALERT Education Centre.  The Centre witnessed the successful graduation of 53 students from the local Mkoba Primary School.  This time around the event was a remarkable one, especially to the students who enjoyed the interaction and teaching of a new face, in the person of Jenna Ackles from Canada whom they appreciated dearly.

The day started with a revision of the tests the kids had written the previous day.  Games and lots of exciting activities like the “Big 5” were part of the proceedings in the company of Antelope Park community coordinators and volunteers.

After helping themselves to some treats, the 53 bundles of joy could not wait any longer for the much awaited game viewing expedition.  For more than four weeks the children had been learning about conservation basics.  The modules: Conservation, African Animals, African Habitats, African Countries, African Cats and Tracks and Signs were used as basic tools in imparting knowledge about conservation.  The importance of wildlife, how to conserve it and threats to wildlife, how to conserve it and threats to wildlife are just a few examples of what was covered by these modules.

Now was the time to consolidate the new knowledge just acquired by the students.  During the game drive they got the opportunity to actually see live giraffe, kudu, wildebeest, zebra, impala, etc.  For the majority of the students, this was their maiden game viewing exercise.  This also served a good purpose in ensuring that the students appreciate fully the beautiful side of wildlife.

So this year 2014 the ALERT Education Centre has celebrated the graduation of 102 conservation stars!’

Prior to this, the AEC’s first group of students this year enjoyed their own graduation ceremony last month.  This is what Staben had to say about their graduation day:

‘Friday was one of those happy moments at the ALERT Education Centre, seeing the graduation of 49 students.  There were indeed 49 reasons for celebrating, with the kids armoured and equipped with the necessities that will see them safeguarding the environment and wildlife, both now and in the future.  In the morning the students went through a revision of the curriculum before they were joined by volunteers from Antelope Park.  These later presented them with certificates.  It was all smiles as students posed for the camera in the presence of their newly made friends.  Later on the kids went for a game view, which they had been expecting from day one of coming to the ALERT Education Centre.  They saw giraffes, kudu, wildebeest, impala, etc, before they had a tour of the Lion Breeding Program.  This was all meant to consolidate understanding of the information they learnt.’

These ceremonies are always a highlight for the community volunteers who attend.  Here’s what two of them had to say about the experience:

‘We went to the ALERT Education Centre, where the kids had graduation.  It was very nice to see the kids being involved and everybody was raising their hands and were so excited to answer the questions.’ Tina

‘The graduation and the classroom were so beautifully painted and the kids and the teachers welcomed us well.  It was nice to see and hear about the things that they’ve learned.  We took photos of the kids and then went for a game ride in the park.’ Susan

The AEC is in constant need of funding to cover both the costs of running the Centre and for transportation for the students from Mkoba 4 Primary School to allow them to continue to attend conservation lessons.  Recognising this need, three Antelope Park interns, Scott, Naznin and Katie, put their heads together to arrange a special fundraising event on St. Patrick’s Day in aid of the AEC.  As part of the event, they planned an adventurous obstacle course for all of the volunteers to participate in.  Naznin gamely dressed up as a leprechaun and during the obstacle course, volunteers had to find her and her ‘pot of gold’ (which consisted of chocolate coins!).  It was a very exciting day and raised enough money to cover transport costs for a whole month.  Antelope Park is very grateful for the initiative these interns showed in organising such a fun and much-needed fundraising event.  Thanks too to the volunteers who helped to make it such a success.

If you would like to intern with ALERT, you can find out more here.

During their time at Antelope Park, community volunteers have the opportunity to assist in the Special Needs Class at Mkoba 4 Primary School.  The volunteers’ role within this classroom is of great help to both the teacher and children.  They offer small group, or one-on-one support, which makes such a difference in helping these students to learn.  This is what Ida from Norway had to say about her day at Mkoba 4 Primary School:

‘Today we were working at a Mkoba 4 Primary School.  We helped children in a class for special needs/disabled.  It was a really nice experience and the kids were so nice and joyful.  We helped them with English and Maths and had a good time outside playing.  We also helped the teacher with correcting the work, and I could see that all of the kids were so proud of their work.  It was a really nice day and with awesome children.  I’m looking forward to meeting them next time.’

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