Studying Wildlife Conservation in Zimbabwe

A United Methodist Women scholarship student learns to protect one of his country’s greatest natural resources.

Studying Wildlife Conservation in Zimbabwe
Tapiwa G. Zimnya

My name is Tapiwa G. Zimnya, and I’m a 22-year-old young man from Zimbabwe. I’m a third-year student at Chinhoyi University of Technology in Zimbabwe and am currently completing a Bachelor of Science honors degree in wildlife and safari management. I chose this area of study because I have great passion for environmental studies, especially wildlife ecology and conservation. And most importantly, I want to help local communities appreciate and safeguard their natural resources. There is a real need for people to work in the wildlife industry in Zimbabwe in order for communities to become more aware of the importance of wildlife conservation. The work also focuses on environmental degradation, sustainable use and conservation of genetic resources, as well as climate change issues.

Financial Challenges

I’m part of a family of 11, and it was financially challenging for all of us to fulfill our needs and make sure we all attend school. My father died when I was in fourth grade, and being raised by a single mother was difficult, considering the size of our family. My mother became solely responsible for taking care of us and making sure we were all going to school. It was never easy for her, since she is a primary care nurse with a limited annual income. Sometimes we couldn’t attend school until weeks after the school year had already begun, since we did not have the money to pay the school fees. This, in turn, affected our performance in class since we missed some lectures. But because we had a positive attitude and we all worked hard to please our mother, we still ended up getting awards for best student of the year!

As an active member of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship, I never missed a single church service. One day my pastor told us about the United Methodist Women’s scholarship program. This really got my attention, since my family was facing financial challenges. The pastor said that everyone at university level has the opportunity of being funded, and if interested should see him after the church service. I went to see the pastor and decided to apply for a scholarship. I was actually somewhat shocked when I opened an e-mail after some months that said, “Congratulations Mr. Zimunya, you have been awarded $2,310 for your academic year.” I said, “Glory, glory! The Lord has answered my prayers!” From that day on, everything changed. My research was made easier since I could buy a laptop, and I was never again late to begin the school year. I’m also able to support myself through the funds I got from the program, which were released for both my academic expenses and my living expenses. I really appreciate each and every person’s effort in supporting me. Thank you!

Plans for the Future

After completing my first degree, I wish to get an internship with an organization that deals with wildlife ecology and global conservation to gain experience in the industry. This would make it easier for me to get a job. Most companies that deal with wildlife ecology and conservation require people to have a minimum of two years’ experience in the industry. With an internship program I would be able to get a job without having to return home after finishing my first degree. After getting a job I will pursue a master’s degree, and at the same time want to establish a college or organization that educates local communities about conservation and the environment.

While some organizations in Zimbabwe do offer some funding for students, we are often not even aware of them since they are limited to those with media access. Students from rural areas who have great potential are often excluded. I applied for the United Methodist Women funding for students because I believed that a church initiative was perfect for me since the church understood my situation better than any other organization. The scholarship was open to any student who wanted to apply, without having to know anyone within the organization.

Once more, I want to thank United Methodist Women for its scholarship program for students, which is so positively changing our lives. God bless United Methodist Women!

Posted or updated: 10/20/2014 11:00:00 PM