In the heart of eastern Zambia, there is a remarkable woman named Anna Tolan, who is dedicated to giving children hope and wildlife a chance. As the co-founder and director of Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust, Anna has dedicated her life to teaching Zambian children the value of wildlife and the importance of protecting their environment. Her journey from being a police officer in Oxford, UK, to becoming a passionate conservationist in Zambia is a testament to her unwavering commitment to making a difference. ConnectAID proudly met with the Founder of Chipembele during our field mission to Zambia in September 2023, and can testify about the organization’s enormous impact on the ground. But let’s talk about Anna!
Together with her husband Steve Tolan, Anna established Chipembele in 1998, armed with nothing but their boundless passion and determination to educate children and communities living near the South Luangwa National Park. Their transition from police officers to conservationists was a significant change, but Anna’s love for Africa and the pressing threats to its wildlife and habitats propelled them forward.
Anna’s work at Chipembele has been nothing short of extraordinary. She has spearheaded pupil sponsorship schemes for orphaned and vulnerable children, ensuring they receive an education that they might not have otherwise been able to afford. Moreover, she has managed numerous school improvement projects, focusing on enhancing educational facilities and opportunities for the local youth.
At the core of Anna’s mission is the conservation education outreach program she established at 28 local schools. Through this program, children are inspired to consider careers in the world of conservation and are taught about the immense value in preserving wildlife. Anna’s dedication to nurturing the passion and commitment of the youth in her conservation programs serves as a constant source of inspiration and energy for her.
Beyond education, Anna leads by example. Chipembele also takes in orphaned animals, providing them with care and rehabilitation until they are ready to be released back into the wild. Anna’s devotion to these animals is such that she and her husband have not been able to go away together for the past decade, as one of them always stays behind to care for the animals. This sacrifice exemplifies their deep commitment to the well-being of wildlife.
For Anna, education is the key to securing the future of wildlife in Africa. She envisions a world where people and wildlife can coexist harmoniously, despite the challenges of population growth and development. By educating communities about the value and benefits of wildlife conservation and providing practical solutions to conflicts, Anna believes that a harmonious relationship between humans and wildlife can be achieved.
Anna’s story is one of passion, resilience, and unwavering determination. Her tireless efforts to educate children and communities about the importance of wildlife conservation have undoubtedly made a lasting impact. Through Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust, she has brought hope to countless children, inspired future conservationists, and contributed significantly to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 13: Life on Land.
Anna Tolan’s career is a testament to the transformative power of education and the indomitable human spirit. ConnectAID is proud of its NGO Member Chipembele and witnessed first hand its impact during our latest field mission to Zambia. As we admire Anna Tolan’s dedication and accomplishments, we can all be inspired to take action in our own lives to protect and preserve our precious natural world. Together, we can ensure a future where wildlife thrives, and humans live in harmony with nature.
For more information about ConnectAID’s nonprofit Member Chipembele Wild Life Education Trust: www.chipembele.org/