Old Mutual Zim supports Walk4Life initiative

The Herald

Zimbabwe’s largest integrated financial services group, Old Mutual Zimbabwe has rallied around the Walk4Life initiative which seeks to raise awareness of mental health and environmental conservation.

Environmental conservationist Nick Holme, a Zimbabwean now resident in the United Kingdom plans to spend the next two months walking 800 kilometres around Lake Kariba, on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia to raise awareness for nature conservation and mental well-being. Additionally, the initiative aims to raise 10 000 pounds for conservation efforts in the region.

“As Old Mutual, we recognise that our natural resources are what makes this country unique. Maintaining the delicate balance between nature and development is essential to a productive and prosperous nation,” said Lillian Mubaiwa, Old Mutual Zimbabwe’s group head of marketing, public affairs, and sustainability.

“Raising awareness on mental health and the healing power of nature speaks to our values of creating a positive future for our clients, their families, communities in which we work and broader society. 

“Maintaining the perfect balance between nature and a healthy lifestyle, will significantly contribute to improving the lives of our customers and their communities while ensuring a sustainable future for our business.”

Old Mutual values underpins upholding environment conservation and making a positive impact within the communities we serve, she said. “Conservation and mental health are two globally important issues we are faced with today. Our natural world is under greater threat than ever before and we need to preserve what is left of it before it is too late, for both our physical and mental health,” Ms Mubaiwa added.

Research has shown that the ability to go and be with nature can significantly help those suffering from mental health issues. 

“There is a misconception that rural communities are not affected by mental health issues, however, this is further from the truth. 

“In fact, those living in remote areas that border national parks such as the parks found in Kariba suffer immensely with mental health issues as the human wildlife conflict rages on.

In many of these communities’ people have suffered wildlife attacks that have led to injuries and the loss of life, and this invariably leads to mental health challenges. 

United Kingdom-based conservationist Nick Holme said he was grateful for Old Mutual’s support for the initiative.

“I am delighted that Old Mutual has recognised the global importance of such an undertaking and have come aboard as a sponsor. But more than that, I am truly grateful that Old Mutual values and understands the long-term relationship required to build such awareness. 

“We look forward to working together both now and in the future to promote this vital link between conservation and mental well-being.”

He admits that the walk would be a challenge as it has never been done before but he is driven by the pursuit to raise global awareness of the correlation between mental health and the conservation of nature, in addition to his passion for the Kariba community.

He insists that people who spend time with nature are far happier. Other partners include the Solution Centre, Zambesia Conservation Alliance, Tsime Water, Hungwe Travel and many others.

Organisers say that the Kariba and Zambezi area is at the forefront of the human-wildlife conflict zone, and the initiative will investigate this in detail and explore the role the communities play in the protection of the relationship between humans and wildlife.

They also want to explore the topic of wildlife trafficking and the risk it poses to both communities and nature. The initiative will also look at some of the real practical solutions and steps that can be undertaken within the communities to provide support to those seeking help. 

It will also examine the role a dedicated mental health or community welfare nurse can play and the equipping of health practitioners within the communities on handling mental disorders.

Holme started his walk on Saturday, July 31, from the Zimbabwe side of the Kariba Dam wall, with some supporters and well-wishers also taking part for the first few kilometres in the first leg of the walk.

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