African Impact - Nominated for Prestigious Imvelo Responsible Tourism Award in Africa

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In an industry that is currently buzzing, and with its fair share of cynics, this family-run African voluntourism organization has been built with passion and pride and is rapidly taking the lead as the industry's most renowned African-based facilitators of volunteer projects. African Impact have recently been nominated as finalists in the prestigious African-based Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards (http://www.imveloawards.co.za). The Imvelo Awards are in their 8th year and have had a huge impact on tourism in South Africa, creating significant awareness of environmental management issues in the industry. The awards are in line with the Responsible Tourism guidelines for the South African hospitality industry and the UN World Tourism Organisation's code of ethics. Imvelo is supported by the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme.

The African Impact directors will attend the Imvelo Awards ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 11th November 2009. In the lead up to the big day, you might ask yourself about the journey that has brought them this far...

African Impact's first volunteers were welcomed with open arms in late 2004, and the African Impact team firmly advocate that the journey from that date to now has been an exciting and rewarding one.

What motivates the African Impact team? Since its humble beginnings at their Antelope Park Lion Rehabilitation Project in Zimbabwe in 2004, Andrew and Wendy Conolly, along with a dedicated team of managers, office and field staff, have built African Impact into a voluntourism organization of which they are immensely proud.

Sarah Graham, a co-founder of African Impact and their current Marketing and Sales Manager based in their office in Cape Town, South Africa, shares a few thoughts on the past few years:

"Having traveled to our volunteer projects throughout Southern and East Africa, I've seen a lot of fascinating things and met a lot of intriguing people!

"From camping with Masai warriors and camels in the bush of Northern Kenya while scouting a new project; to tracking leopards with experienced scouts in Southern Botswana; taking a 'chicken bus' up to the lip of the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, or having the time of my life reading to kids at our adopted orphanage in Mozambique, I have never failed to be continuously inspired, and re-inspired, by the people that I have met.

"Whether they were our very own African Impact project managers or participants or local partners such as headmasters in small rural schools or over-eager children with an amazing desire to learn, I am continuously awed by the beauty of the kind of humanity that can eclipse all boundaries and bring people together when working for a common cause" -- Sarah Graham, Co-Founder, Cape Town, October 2009

The team at African Impact choose a results-based assessment approach to their volunteering and ultimately prefer to seek out the evidence and outputs that stand to support the work that they are doing as further proof that they are making a sustainable difference in Africa. The below comments are testament to the approach that African Impact takes in the planning of their voluntourism initiatives:

"The whole experience was absolutely incredible. It was uplifting, rewarding, challenging, grounding, heart-breaking and soul-destroying in equal measure. To see the absolute joy on the faces of the children when we arrived to spend time with them, or their excitement at being given the opportunity to do something creative, was incredible. This is why I WILL do it again and why I would encourage anyone who is thinking about doing this to go and do it.'' -- Stuart Neath, UK. Past Volunteer to African Impact Volunteer Project in Mozambique.

"As a department, we truly appreciate your dedication and hope you recognise, as we do, the valuable role you play in building brighter futures for Zambia's next generation. Thank you for your continuing support. It is through the positive efforts of organisations like yours that we can change a lifetime for a child in need..." -- Zambian Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development, 2008

So why would you want to volunteer in Africa with African Impact?

Yes, there are dozens of other volunteer project operators out there, and there are countless options, so WHY should you choose African Impact for your volunteering experience in Africa?

Pride…
African Impact is the largest on-the-ground facilitator of responsible volunteer projects in Southern and East Africa. In 2009 they were nominated as finalists in the World Travel Awards, as well as the prestigious Imvelo Awards (http://www.imveloawards.co.za/), and are continuously striving to improve the nature of the work that they are doing in Africa.

Place…
Based in Cape Town, South Africa, African Impact works in partnership with extensive office and field staff in Southern and East Africa, as well as volunteers from around the world.

Passion…
For Africa, and its sustainable development, means that they will go out of their way to ensure measurable results for projects through meaningful volunteer experiences.

People…
The African Impact team is made up of people with vast experience living, working and travelling in Africa. They raise up and invest in local staff wherever possible, and their colourful group is made up of people who have an unparalleled passion and enthusiasm for their work.

Participants…
"Without sounding trite, living in Africa and volunteering in this way has profoundly influenced my perspectives and outlook on life. I re-evaluated my personal relationships, the way I interact with people, the things I value, my approach to material possessions, and my overall career goals. To say I loved living there would be an understatement."
Victoria Blackwell-Hardie, UK. Past Volunteer to their Kenya Medical and Community Project

Partners…
The Happy Africa Foundation
African Impact is proud to have been instrumental in the establishment of The Happy Africa Foundation (UK Registered Charity Number: 1123529) in 2007 and continues to be one of the Foundations major supporters.

The Foundation works together with local African communities to conserve and protect the environment, wildlife and cultures in areas where the Foundation is involved and strives to make a meaningful difference to Africa's communities and wildlife.
http://www.happyafricafoundation.org    

African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT)
Founded in 2005 at Antelope Park in Zimbabwe, ALERT is a non-profit organization dedicated to the facilitation and promotion of sound conservation and management plans for the African lion in consultation with governments, wildlife authorities and communities.
The Trust aims to support the four-stage African Lion Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Program developed by Andrew & Wendy Conolly in 1999. The aim of this program is to provide a solution to augmenting the sharply decreasing numbers of African lions through the release of wild-borne offspring from rehabilitated captive bred lions by raising awareness and funds to source, secure and prepare suitable release sites for the lions.
http://www.lionalert.org

The Princeton in Africa Foundation
African Impact is in proud partnership with The Princeton In Africa Foundation (PIAF) and is currently hosting one a PIAF 1 year fellowship intern, Mark Stevens, at our Livingstone Community Volunteer Projects in Zambia.
Website: http://www.princeton.edu/piaf

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