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Compiled Sanet van Zijl | Main photo ©Paul van Schalkwyk
Nanofasa Conservation Trust has received a generous sponsorship from Bank Windhoek, N$190 000. The money will be used to finance the Barefoot Academy they run with San communities in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy.
Nanofasa works to protect the last wild zone in Namibia, it’s giant trees and endangered wildlife and the San community that calls it home.
The word Nanofasa means “nature never jumps”. The aim of this non-profit trust is the upliftment and empowerment of the ancient San communities living adjacent to conservation areas and in areas of operation. They strive to conserve the biodiversity and ecosystems in order to ensure a sustainable future for coming generations.
The Trust was founded in 2011 by Aleksandra Orbeck-Nilssen. It was founded with the idea in mind to provide San communities with economic incentives through eco-adventure student tourism. The Barefoot Academy was born out of this; it has three branches under which San children are educated about their culture and heritage, they are The Hunter, The Gatherer and The Healer.
The Gathering Academy is run by the oldest San women that will teach their students about gathering traditional food, cooking, trees and routes, crafting, the sustainable use and management of resources, superstitions, storytelling and rituals. Student will be expected to complete a practical examination after what they have been taught. Those that pass the exam will be qualified as vegetation assessors, research assistants, bush scientists and craft makers.
Older San hunters will be responsible for passing on their knowledge in the Hunter Academy. This includes their understanding about nature, hunting techniques, superstition and rituals, wildlife, topography, storytelling, orthography and the making of tools and shoes. Students will also learn how to read nature signs and how to track animals. They too will have to pass a practical exam and an exam on traditional tracking to receive a certificate.
At the Healer Academy students will be taught how to heal individuals using the indigenous San methods. Older healers and medicine women will be the teachers, passing on knowledge about saving and sustainable use of resources, medicinal usage of trees, plants and roots.
To teach the San some additional skills the Barefoot Academy will teach the students how to grow indigenous plants in greenhouses. The greenhouses will be constructed from recycled materials such as old cool drink bottles to ensure that the construction is as environmentally friendly as possible. The food grown in the greenhouses will be stored to use in times of drought or whenever they experience harsh times throughout the year. Malnutrition is a big problem among the San and this will surely be a solution to address the issue.
Through the Trust skills will be transferred to the next generation of San, their heritage will be preserved, nature will be conserved and jobs will be created. The reason Bank Windhoek chose to support this initiative is because the focus of the Bank Windhoek Social Investment Fund is education, training, job creation and entrepreneurship. The Barefoot Academy focuses on all of these areas. The Academy will also be creating a database where employers will be able to find skilled workers in the field of nature conservation.
Nanofasa has also started to produce Eland skin hunting shoes. The shoes will be advertised under the VivoBarefoot brand. Their aim is to revive the ancient shoe-making skill of the San.
To read more on the Trust follow this link: www.nanofasa.com