This blog post is well overdue – and I apologise for my lateness to the extremely kind and patient couple James Blevin, 26, and Sammy Leech, 25, who are soon to be Mr and Mrs Blevin!
I had the pleasure of interviewing this absolutely beautiful dynamic duo a while ago, to discuss all things southern Africa, safaris, weddings, and their exciting upcoming projects.
I’ll give you some background info first. James and Sammy are the iconic high school sweethearts we love to read about. They met in 2006 in their high school years at Sunshine Coast Grammar School – which I also attended, so I feel very privileged to have known them on their journey together. You might recognise Sammy in the photos below – that’s because she’s the older sister to Nicci Leech, who helped out with my skin care blog post while staying together in Sydney!
James and Sammy are now set to tie to knot in only a matter of weeks, and I am so excited for them.
I’m also excited about their conservation venture they’ve embarked on together. Just when you think the couple couldn’t be any more perfect, they’ve started their own charity, ‘Diwa Zambezi’, which is registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and registration approval with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (ACNC) is imminent.
Diwa Zambezi’s mission in simple terms is to protect and conserve the Zambezi River, and its wilderness surrounds. James explained that the approach to execute this mission is multi-faceted in that ecotourism, volunteering and retail profits will be used to supplement conventional fundraising and donation revenues. The noticeable rapid decline in wildlife populations in both Zambia and Zimbabwe in the last decade has precipitated a real need for intervention of this sort.
James, chairman of Diwa Zambezi, is from Zimbabwe himself, so his passion for his heritage is understandable, but it is further amplified by his determination to preserve the wilderness areas of the Zambezi, so that future generations may have the privilege of experiencing these wonderlands for themselves.
“Over the last decade elephant numbers in the Sebungwe region, which includes the Matusadona National Park on the shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe, have plummeted by 75% or 9,000 in number. If the population loss continues at the current rate, the African elephant will be extinct in the wild in less than 12 years. Other iconic African species such as the rhinoceros, lion, cheetah and wild dog are gravely threatened with the same fate. To see any of Africa’s iconic species in the wild, is to really live, and the next generation deserves that opportunity,” said James.
Over the years James and Sammy have travelled to over forty countries together however the wildernesses of the Zambezi stand tall as the pinnacle of their travels, and now Sammy has fallen in love with the land herself, describing the African sky as ‘higher’ and ‘pervading magic’. Think Simba, Timone and Pumba staring up at the endless night skies in The Lion King.
What makes Diwa Zambezi such a unique company, differentiating itself from other conservation organisations, is that it wants to involve you however it can through numerous offerings which include guided safaris to a number of locations in the vicinity of the Zambezi River such as the Mana Pools National Park, Lake Kariba and the Victoria Falls.
Activities for prospective visitors include game viewing, photographic safaris, tiger fishing, elephant rides, bush walks, bungee jumping and white water rafting in the celebrated Batoka Gorge to name just a few. The next six months will also see the establishment of an online shop, the purpose of which is to advocate and popularise African wildlife and habitats.
Profits from these commercial operations will be coupled with fundraising and donation revenues and used to fund conservation works in the national parks of the Zambezi. In time Diwa Zambezi will also seek to allocate a portion of its revenues to Australian conservation initiatives as a means of retaining its Australian identity.
In a recent press release on the Diwa Zambezi website, James quoted “The greatest threat to African wildlife is belief that someone else will save it.”
James believes these words are very poignant for the simple reason that many people plan to visit Africa at least once in their lifetimes, and yet do nothing to ensure its preservation for posterity.
For more information on the amazing work this beautiful couple is creating, please visit www.diwazambezi.org and make your trip to the mother continent one that makes a difference.
And to view the fundraising campaign – visit http://www.chuffed.org/project/diwazambezi.
I wish both James and Sammy the best of luck for their conservation venture together, and especially for their big day! Stay tuned for more updates on this absolute power couple and their journey on the path less travelled.
All photos supplied by James Blevin