The Impactful Inaugural Junior Ranger Programme
In December of 2018, the first intake of junior rangers arrived for the inaugural Junior Ranger Programme. Twenty-two boys, ages 16-18, commencing their “O” level examination year, were selected from Dhumisani secondary school. This school was chosen for its proximity to and established relationship with The Malilangwe Trust. Boys selected to participate in the programme were residents of surrounding villages; strengthening ties between The Malilangwe Trust and the community, and empowering local Shangaan people.
Over the course of a year, the junior rangers became increasingly confident and self-assured. Their team chemistry flourished whilst maturing as individuals. The change in their behaviour, energy and commitment was astounding for their instructors to witness, and their improvement was a point of pride for all involved. It was clear the junior rangers left the programme with a positive outlook on their futures and strengthened self-confidence.
Developing Life Skills
One of the key aims of the programme is to nurture lifelong respect and understanding of the natural environment and to encourage the belief that each and every person has a role in protecting it. As the year progressed it was encouraging to see the junior rangers’ appreciation of the natural world grow. They were incredibly proud of their newly acquired and invaluable skills that they could bring back to their community.
Through the structured fitness regime, the junior rangers were pushed beyond anything they believed themselves capable of, learning discipline, motivation and self-belief on their journey; valuable lessons they will bring with them as they enter adulthood. All the junior rangers expressed a desire to continue with their fitness regime, and one junior ranger summed it up appropriately as “healthy body, healthy mind.”
Most young people drop out of school before reaching their “O” level year, but since the first class of cadets, there was a 100% attendance rate from junior rangers, an impressive comparison to their previous once or twice a week school attendance. Their willingness to learn and fulfil their potential will continue to make a vast difference in these boys’ lives. Five of the junior rangers excelled in their “O” level examinations, each gaining six or more passes. Some of the junior rangers are being sponsored to further their studies. These junior rangers now dream of careers like an ecologist, an accountant, a lawyer, and a pilot. The CRP has given them the courage to dream and a positive attitude to make those dreams a reality. We hope to offer more graduated junior rangers the opportunity to further their studies, and with enough support from donors, we believe the Junior Ranger Programme can continue to empower more young men and make this a reality.
It is the intention of all those involved in the JRP to maintain contact with outgoing junior rangers, offering support and advice when needed. Six junior rangers recently attended a selection day to become rangers in the neighbouring Gonarezhou National Park. The discipline, fitness and confidence of the cadets ensured they stood out from the 1 500 selection day attendees. All six junior rangers were chosen to attend further training and we are incredibly proud of them.
We’d like to thank our valued partners and donors for their support of the Junior Ranger Programme. This community-based programme has truly changed lives, and with further support, we can continue to empower more young people.
“The [junior rangers] are very responsible, they lead by example at school. I’ve watched them being transformed into responsible young men” Mr Tinei Zhonje (Teacher, Dhumisani Secondary School)
“My character has changed, my behaviour is better and I am happy because I can now teach other young boys in the community to have this same character. You need to have respect and discipline” Eliot Matirongo (Junior Ranger)
This programme taught me to put effort into everything I do. I am holding my future in my hands” Godknows Takavingei (Junior Ranger)“
Read more about the syllabus of the Junior Ranger Programme and learn how you can contribute to this life-changing programme.