Wednesday 12 March 2014

NDP Open Day - Community support great but corporate backing is still lacking...

By Tess Gridley:

Last week the Namibian Dolphin held a Fundraiser and Education Day at the Walvis Bay Waterfront.  We had several aims by holding these events - the first was to let people know who we are, what we are doing and where we are based.  We've been based at the Waterfront since July, and where we have a range of education information and material available freely to the public to view - but still most people aren't quite sure who we are or what we get up to.

The second was to invite all schools to an education event to increase awareness of Namibia's marine life. We've been meaning to run a big education event for a while and during the summer months is the best time as our fieldwork commitments are less.

And the last was to raise funds - primarily for Namibian students, office running and general research costs. This final aim is crucial for us. While Simon and I are employed through the University of Pretoria on a contract basis, we have to search hard for funds for the office and students and to conduct the research we think is important. Recently we have had some really great Namibian students approach and work with us (for instance see blog by Titus below). We would love to be in a position to offer these students paid internships or student bursaries, but at the moment we can only offer volunteer positions. This means that most students can't afford to work with us, as they need to find alternative paid work. Our long-term aim is that the project is run by local Namibians and getting these studentships is the first step towards achieving this.

We hoped that through running a fundraiser event we could inspire local businesses to support marine conservation and thereby secure some financial backing for the students, the environmental office, research or all three. Currently this has not come through and the search continues. On the up side though – the fundraising evening we held was fantastic. It was a sit down meal for 50 people, with music and games to boot – and was a lot of fun! We had support from NACOMA, Maersk and Nedbank – who all booked large tables and enjoyed the evening.



The Education Day on the Saturday was also a great success – over 150 children attended the event and there was a real buzz at the Waterfront. We had 10 stations set up - so children could learn about sounds in the sea, sharks, seabird conservation, ‘tools of the trade’ and see our collection of marine mammal skulls.  For the younger kids we also had face painting, arts and crafts and pelican viewing. All the volunteers that helped out on the day were wonderful and all the kids seemed to love the day. In fact, more than 70 ended their day with a trip to sea with Laramon tours, where they got to do some wildlife viewing - for those children who had never been to sea before this was a real treat.
So what did we learn from our busy weekend  - well mostly that the community in Walvis Bay really cares about the marine environment and wants to know more - but that we are going to have to work a little harder and shout a little louder if we want local businesses (particularly those that use the marine realm - Manica, Maersk, de Beers, the fishing companies etc, this means you!) to take note and support local conservation efforts… and on that note I'll get back to writing yet another funding application :-)

A HUGE thank you to everyone who helped out with the day, the event and with prizes:

Volunteer Support: Bex Russel, Margot Jefferson, Bridget, Sara, Marie, Justus, Cecelia, Tobias and Titus, the Albatross Task Force (Sarah Yates) and CETN (Peter Bridgeford & Sue Roux).

Venue supplied by Anchors Restaurant, Lindi Dreyer and Marti Behr

Printing costs supported by Printworx Swakopmund & the NACOMA project. Petra at PAKO MAgazine helped out designing some of the info sheets.  Mega-Stationers, Waltons and Herco all supplied some materials for the day.

Raffle Prizes by: AfriCat & Okonjima Lodge, Sun Sail Cruises, Levo Tours, Lyon Des Sables, Lemon Tree Deli, Mussel Cracker, Art Africa, Harbour’s End, Namib Offroad, Harbours End

Boat trips on the day by Laramon Tours

Ocean Adventures helped courier some of the kids to the event with their busses and Catamaran Charters provided a prize for the winning essay.




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