I wrote the first draft of this blog eight years ago. Since then, rather than becoming less, it has become even more relevant. There is something quite depressing about watching small children tossing aside a half-opened Christmas present in the hope of finding a more instantly gratifying one in the pile beneath it. Or observing an office manager remove a festive hamper from reception with a frown that seems to say ‘Not another delivery of shortbread and Chardonnay!’
Every year at this time, we knowingly spend money on unwanted gifts when a tiny fraction of it would dramatically change the lives of others. Just a few mouse clicks away, that same amount of money would make the world of a difference to someone.
Sometimes it is just not possible to give someone the benefit of a donation made on their behalf. But sometimes it is. It’s never too early for kids to learn the happiness that comes from giving as well as receiving. And how wonderful if, by giving a gift, we seed curiosity in a cause that helps provide new energy and purpose to someone’s life?
So, if you’re struggling to find a gift this Christmas for the person with everything, here are two suggestions. These are both charities that I have supported for many years, which I know to be well run, and where every single dollar donated will make a material difference. They are both located in Zimbabwe, where I was born and brought up, and which I know well.
Zimbabwe has been through economic implosion, Covid lockdowns, drought and famine. Unemployment is over 90% (yes, ninety!), there is no social security, and most people rely on whatever they can grow themselves or receive in remittances from family and friends outside the country.
Given this dire state of human well being in Zimbabwe, what of the country’s animals? ‘Desperate’ is hardly the word. Which is why every dollar given to one, or both, of the two following animal charities will be massively appreciated, and the maximum value from it extracted for the benefit of many sentient beings!
(Above: Kadiki the lioness, who can’t be returned to the wild, has a wonderful home at The Twala Trust, where she is often visited by her domesticated chum, Simon the cat.)
The Twala Wildlife Trust
The Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary, based just outside Harare in Zimbabwe, is run by Sarah Carter and resident veterinarian Dr Vinay Ramlaul, together with a dedicated team of staff and volunteers.
Twala provides a nurturing and safe haven for animals and birds in need. Wherever possible, rescued animals are released back into the wild, but many orphaned, injured and abused creatures find a forever home at Twala. Not only does Twala have a pack of 50 dogs, who are taken on daily bush walks. The Twala team feed and care for 600 dogs in low income rural homes nearby, so that these dogs can live with the people they love and have the quality of life they so deserve.
Sarah and Vinay truly are an extraordinarily generous couple who have devoted their lives to the well being of animals. They deserve whatever support we can offer. Every dollar, pound or Euro of hard currency really does help them. Because of all kinds of restrictions, Twala doesn’t have a Paypal account. But money wired to their account does reach them – please consider taking the extra few minutes to set up a transfer.
For more, go to: https://business.facebook.com/TheTwalaTrustAnimalSanctuary/ Go to the top, Pinned Post for bank details.
(Above: Kukurakura, one of the orphaned elephants being given a second chance at life at Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery after losing her family to poachers.)
Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery
Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery (ZEN) is a wildlife sanctuary in Zimbabwe giving orphaned and injured elephant calves a second chance at life. Over 100,000 elephants have been slaughtered for their tusks in the past three years in Africa – the demand fueled by wealthy Asians who regard ivory as a desirable investment. Very young elephants, often left for dead, among the mutilated bodies of their dead parents, are among the tragic victims of this appalling crisis.
Roxy Danckwerts set up ZEN, not only to help the severely traumatised calves with their most immediate needs, but also with Zimbabwe Parks (a Government agency) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to provide a long term future for them, enabling them to be “re-wilded” in the longer term.
Roxy and her team are true visionaries, working at the epicentre of elephant welfare – where Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia meet is home to the largest remaining elephant herds in the wild. Your contribution to the battle to help save elephants would have an especially meaningful and personal impact, if you donate through ZEN – part of the Wild is Life charity.
For more, go to: https://www.zimbabweelephantnursery.com/
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Join me on Mindful Safari in Zimbabwe, where I was born and grew up. On Mindful Safari we combine game drives and magical encounters with lion, elephant, giraffe, and other iconic wildlife, with inner journeys exploring the nature of our own mind. Find out more by clicking here.