Operations & Logistics coordinator – EOW Science Laboratory and M&E officer for the GP/USAID IGBZ Program
I was born on a farm in Mpumalanga, South Africa, where I attended Lowveld High School in the town of Nelspruit, situated just 66km from the Kruger National Park, where we visited very often as a family and where my passion for the natural world became firmly cemented. After completing my schooling, I was working in Namibia, for a short stint, where I met my husband to be, Mike - we soon discovered that we both shared a common interest in wildlife.
We moved to Johannesburg in 1988, after Mike completed his studies and took up a professional career as a Software Engineer. Once our 2 daughters had started school, I decided to open my own business in clothing manufacture - designing, manufacturing and branding sporting paraphernalia and clothing for various sports teams and sporting bodies, including a number of National teams and also manufacturing and supplying various schools with uniforms. I was the sole proprietor of the business that ran a very busy schedule for 17 years.
Our passion for the bush was still a top priority in our lives so in order to achieve a balance between work and our passion we would plan a month long excursion each year, during the Manufacturing Industry’s December break, into one of the many wonderful Parks in Africa. We have so far explored all of the Southern African Countries up to Northern Tanzania, on which one of our longest exploits we covered 9000km in our trusty Land Rover, on some of the worst roads in Africa.
In 2004, once both our girls had completed their schooling, we joined an organization that offered a year-long, part time course in Natural Sciences. After successfully completing the course, we were invited to join their team of facilitators. For a further 2 years, we spent most of our week-ends assisting new students during field excursions and also attended weekly evening lectures. This culminated in us both achieving our FGASA Level 2 Field Guiding qualification.
In 2007 we made a decision to leave our 2 young University Students in the nest and moved to Botswana to follow our dream of establishing a new career in the bush. We initially managed camps in the Okavango Delta for a number of years before accepting positions in Concession Operations Management on a 160 000ha concession on the western side of the Okavango Delta.
During one of our quarterly breaks, in May 2013, we finally planned a trip to visit the legendary Gorongosa National Park. We were immediately overwhelmed by the utter beauty of Gorongosa. It was here that we met Film maker Bob Poole and his wife Gina, who were in the throws of filming a 6-hour documentary series on the Park for PBS. In conversation, when they expressed their interest in visiting Botswana one day, we swapped business cards, wondering if our paths would ever cross again and never imagining for a moment that we would end up working for the Gorongosa Project.
But fate often deals one an unexpected hand when just a few months later, Bob and Gina arrived on the Botswana concession that we were managing, after accepting an assignment to shoot a film there. During their filming assignment the Philanthropist, Greg Carr, paid them a visit and we were fortunate enough to meet him and spent a couple of nights sitting around a camp fire learning about the amazing philanthropic work that he is doing in restoring Gorongosa National Park to it’s former glory, after the civil war almost decimated all the animals in the Park, as well as learning about his future dreams for the area. Following this chance meeting, Greg kept in contact with us and later offered Mike the position of Operations Director for Gorongosa National Park.
To be involved in a program that is not only dedicated to rebuilding a National Park but in equal parts puts just as much energy into uplifting the communities living around the Park is such an immense privilege. Greg believes that if Gorongosa takes care of it’s communities, the communities will take care of Gorongosa. Then, living in one of Africa’s most iconic National Parks is just another bonus, topped by the fortune of being a member of a highly talented and dynamic team of people who work tirelessly to insure that the Gorongosa Project achieves all that it has set out to achieve for the good of the Park and for the benefit of all Mozambican Citizens, to which the Park belongs.