Harambee 2012 - Pulling Together for Elephants

The first ever DSWT Harambee Gala Dinner in London took place on Friday 28th September and was a spectacular event held in the opulent Plaisterers Hall in the old City of London

The first ever DSWT Harambee Gala Dinner in London took place on Friday 28th September and was a spectacular event held in the opulent Plaisterers Hall in the old City of London. Harambee is a Swahili word to mean Pull Together and the purpose of our event was to all pull-together for elephants, at a time when the species is under increasing threat due to a rampant illegal ivory trade.

Rula Lenska, Friend of the DSWT, co-hosted the evening with Dame Daphne Sheldrick, and captivated the room with her introductory speech, quoting Henry Beston and Chief Seattle to call upon the room to stand up for elephants (read Rulas speech here) http://www.thedswt.org.uk/RulaLenska_Harambee.pdf

Guests came from far and wide, and we were delighted to welcome DSWT supporters from Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, the USA and Canada as well as Mexico. DSWT Patron Kristin Davis travelled from Los Angeles to be with us and thanks to our friends at British Airways, Dame Daphne Sheldrick and our Executive Director Angela Sheldrick joined us from Kenya.

The night was filled with fabulous entertainment, provided to us by talented paper silhouette artist Charles Burns (www.roving-artist.com), impressive up-close magician Jimmy Sheridan (www.sheridanmagic.co.uk), traditional flamenco dancer Anita la Maltesa (www.fiestaflamenca.com) and emerging singer/songwriter Louise Golbey and her band (www.louisegolbey.com).

For many the highlights were the speeches; Rula Lenskas opening address drew silence from the room as all were gripped by her words. Rula spoke about her own long standing involvement with the Trust and took guests, some new to the charitys work, on a journey outlining the process of elephant orphan rehabilitation, as pioneered by Dame Daphne Sheldrick. Kristin Davis spoke of her coming together with the Trust, as she and a group of friends became involved in the rescue of orphaned elephant Chaimu, while on a safari in Kenya. From that day, Kristin has been an ardent advocate of the charitys conservation efforts and a prominent figure is drawing media attention to the plight of elephants. We were delighted to have Kristin launch our first campaign, iWorry, on the night, and after reading this update, we would ask you to visit the website www.iworry.org to sign the petition and take further action for elephants. Our final speaker was none other than our very own Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick, expressing her heartfelt thanks to those in the room, and around the world, who do so much for the DSWT and enable us to remain proactive in the field. Support that has never been more important, as Daphne spoke of the growing demand within China for ivory, which has led to a rampant resurgence in illegal ivory poaching, as elephants are killed for their tusks. The efforts of the DSWT to protect elephants in the field, through extensive anti-poaching efforts, mobile veterinary support, habitat protection and of course the orphans project, which is seeing new elephants all too often, victims of a trade that has killed their mothers.

A silent auction, managed by the quite excellent team at Sacramento Events (www.sacramentoevents.co.uk), offered a plethora of wonderful items on which guests could bid. While the live auction drew a focus for the night, creating much excitement in the room and importantly much bidding. We are very thankful to Tony Miles Smiley Miley for stepping in at the last hour to be our live auctioneer after Jamie Breese was unfortunately unable to join us due to a back injury. Many of the live auction items had been opened to pre-bidding, to ensure our supporters from all over the globe had a chance to be a part of Harambee, and we are grateful to all the bidders and winners for their tremendous support and generosity.

We are delighted to share the news that Harambee 2012, our first ever such event, has beaten our expectations and raised an incredible 117,000 GBP (net) for the DSWTs wildlife projects in Kenya. Such success is down to many factors, and we would like to take an opportunity here to acknowledge those that made it possible.

A special thank you to our event sponsors, led by National Geographic Channels / Nat Geo Wild and Kathy Kamei Designs, and furthered by the ever present support of British Airways, Wisla Narrow Fabrics, Metage Capital, Chantecaille, First Avenue and Gaea Pharma. We are grateful to them all for their sponsorship of the event and for reaching out to their own contacts to bring new supporters to the charity.

Many kind companies and individuals contributed the wonderful auction items we featured in our live and silent auctions - Amanda Pearl, Angela Sheldrick, British Airways, Chantecaille, Emakoko Lodge, Gary Hodges, Heather Webb, Immagis, Jogi Schmeisser, Karen E. Phillips, Kathy Kamei, Liz Grundy, Michael Palin, Robin Landis and Jeff Marzilli, SUNO, Terry Mathews and Terry and Jean Phelan. We were thrilled to have raised more than 60,000.00 GBP through the Harambee 2012 auctions.

Thank you to Meera Dattani and her team at our venue Plaisterers Hall for welcoming us and looking after us all so well. Thank you to Jason Gonsalves at www.dot32.co.uk for designing our souvenir brochure, tickets and table plans so beautifully and, last, but certainly by no means least, we are grateful to our small team in the UK, Rob Brandford, Alexandra Sedgwick and Harriet Wilson, and our fabulous volunteers for creating this event and bringing it together so wonderfully. Julie Blackwell, Abi Irving, Alex Wood, Gemma Hoosain, Hannah Cooper, Innes Horton, Lettie Irving, Merope Coulson, Barbara Emery, Nicola Harris, Rosie Pritchard, Ryan Sedgwick, Tinka Wilde and Victoria Wood we couldnt have done it without your hard work and enthusiasm.

And to each and every guest of the Harambee event, absentee bidders for the auction items, players of Dollars for Dung and DSWT supporters, thank you personally for standing up for elephants. With your generous support of our Harambee Gala Dinner and your commitment in the future we will continue to make a positive difference in protecting the African Elephant.