Like many, the work of the Wild Frontiers Foundation quickly changed tack this year. The scene was set for a big year for the foundation, having forged new charitable partnerships and committing to a number of exciting new projects. However, our role as a charity soon switched into support mode, assisting several communities we visit as a travel company, not only deal with the consequences and challenges of the COVID pandemic, but also through natural disasters that further impacted livelihoods.
COVID Relief in Rural Rajasthan
When Wild Frontiers director, JP Sharma, called for support to provide food parcels and protective equipment to help members of the community in his hometown of Bundi, in Rajasthan, India we were quick to respond. During the initial lockdown, many people in Bundi, as was the case across India, were left without their daily wage income.
Through the generosity of Wild Frontiers clients, who hold India close to their hearts, our appeal to assist JP in his community raised just over £8000, which allowed him to supply personal protective equipment, thermal scanners and sanitiser to local hospitals and aged care homes. Additional desks and chairs, sanitiser and masks were purchased for a local school, and food parcels were provided for many in the town who had lost their daily wage income. More provisions of were also handed out to people in need as they passed through Bundi en-route to other areas.
Huge thanks to all who donated to this appeal. Like us, JP was truly blown away by the amount of love and support from Wild Frontiers clients for India and the people of his community, particularly at such a challenging and uncertain time for so many across the world.
Emergency Funds for Kolkata Cyclone Appeal
We answered a call from our charity partner, The Hope Foundation, to help feed and protect vulnerable street connected people in the aftermath of super cyclone Amphan, that devastated parts of the Indian city of Kolkata in May.
Our donation of £1000, helped provide food parcels and tarpaulins to create new shelters for people who were already suffering with the consequences of COVID-19.
Added Support for the Pink City Rickshaw Company
The two new Wild Frontiers funded electric rickshaws are parked up in the Pink City Rickshaw Company depot until such time as tourists return to Jaipur, in India.
In January we funded the training of five ladies as driver/guides as a part of an exciting new partnership with the Pink City Rickshaw Company, a community enterprise which aims to empower local women from low income families and provide work opportunities in the tourism sector.
The ladies had just got up and running in their new employment, when COVID hit. Continuing our support for the ladies and their colleagues, who lost all income in the lockdown, The Wild Frontiers Foundation donated £1000 to help provide food and provisions for them and their families. This donation was bumped up by a further £500 through the generosity of clients, who had previously had the chance to take a rickshaw tour through the charming backstreets of Jaipur with the ladies.
We are looking forward to the day we are again riding through the streets of Jaipur with the Pink City Rickshaw Company.
Kalash Valleys Clean Up - Pakistan
The small Kalash Valleys village of Balanguru in northern Pakistan was again hit by flooding in September after heavy rains sent mud gushing down the valley, damaging community buildings in its wake.
With little income from tourism this year due to COVID-19, and the necessary community funds to carry out the work following the mudslide, village spokesperson and friend of Wild Frontiers, Saifullah, called on us for help.
Through the Wild Frontiers Foundation we were able to fund the excavation work to clear the tonnes of mud that immersed the village guesthouse, community temple and caused minor damage to the primary school, crucially before the onset of winter high in the mountains.
Gondar Girls Football Team - Ethiopia
2020 kicked off our new partnership with Link Ethiopia and the sponsorship of a girls' football team in the northern town of Gondar.
The aims of the girls’ football team and coaching programme is to promote gender equality, self-confidence, fun and fitness for girls with otherwise little access to social growth activities.
The programme also aims to runs regular information sessions for the 20 girls on puberty, sexual health, family planning, and the right over their bodies, along with providing menstrual hygiene management kits.
While some activities were able to continue this year through the pandemic, the full programme, including playing in their first competitive matches, could not go ahead as planned. However, we will continue to support the team and their goals in 2021.
Classroom Sponsorship - Lone Buffalo English School, Laos
The Lone Buffalo English School in northern Laos re-opened its doors to students in June after a nine-week absence. Fortunately, with low rates of COVID-19 infections in Laos, the disruption to the education of the students was kept to a minimum, and with set home learning and two weeks of refresher lessons on their return they were quickly back on track with their classes.
The Wild Frontiers Foundation has supported Lone Buffalo's class sponsorship programme for six years, this year funding the education of class 3A.
Co-founded by Wild Frontiers tour leader Mark Steadman, the school nurtures students from the rural communities around Phonsavan from beginners' level through to gaining their high school certificate, providing every opportunity to move on to higher education.
This year 40 students completed high school, with 36 having gone on to secure places in tertiary education. The centre has also had record new registrations.
The Future of the Baleygon Village School Secured
The future of the Baleygon Village School was secured through a new partnership between the Wild Frontiers Foundation and the Felix Foundation Baltistan, a locally run non-profit organisation working on community development within education, health and agriculture in Pakistan’s remote Hushe Valley.
With the blessing of the Baleygon village community, the school management was officially transferred in February. The Wild Frontiers Foundation sponsored school is now the tenth in the cluster being run by the Felix Foundation, helping to ensure a cohesive approach to education across the valley – from infants to secondary school.
The school was due to re-open as a middle school for students from Grade 5 to 8 in the spring, however due to delays caused by COVID restrictions the school was unable to open until October. Fortunately, many students were able to be accommodated in other Felix Foundation run schools to continue their education.
Closed now for the long winter break high in the mountains, we are looking forward to 2021.
Re-building and managing the Baleygon Village School has been Wild Frontiers biggest and most challenging project to date, spanning over 10 years.
As its guardians, the Wild Frontiers Foundation has committed to funding the school until 2025. This funding will pay teachers’ wages, provide teaching aids, including white boards, science equipment and laptops, and contribute to general maintenance and upkeep.
Without the proceeds of our ‘Evening of Adventure’ major fundraising event this year, we are grateful to those who supported our work and enabled us to help provide emergency relief to many in 2020.
If you would like to support the work of the Wild Frontiers Foundation, please give what you can.