After more than a year of training and field experience, the first round of AWF Conservation Management Trainees has already amassed a wealth of experience.
Two contrasting scenes stand out in my mind when I remember my past as a young boy herding my father’s cattle in the former wildlands of Domboshava, Zimbabwe. Mountains covered with forest full of diverse, juicy wild fruits—this was the common scenery in my early days as a herd boy, unforgettable, and one I cherished and so dearly loved. I remember the scenery changing, my beloved forests and flowing rivers were slowly replaced by bare mountains, lethargic rivers and leafless remnants of bushy trees still standing.
The phrase "lean in" is a buzzword you may have noticed in the news earlier this year, chiefly due to the popularity of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandburg’s book, Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. In it, she discusses her own experiences as a working mother and successful businesswoman in the often male-dominated field of business and leadership. She encourages other women to "lean in," in other words, to pursue their goals regardless of what fears and challenges might prevent them from otherwise acting on their ambitions.
One of the best and worst things about living in Africa as an expatriate is the speed at which the unexpected happens. Just going to the shops, out of nowhere I was faced with a tribunal of very young Muslim girls curious about Muzungus (white people). They had lots of the kind of questions that only children have the innocence to ask, such as am I hairy all over and if they rub my skin will it turn theirs white. Occasionally these random riptides in the flow of your day evolve rapidly into what I can only describe as adventures. In the fall, I had one of these adventures that makes Africa for me.
A Boat Ride Into the Congo
At the moment we are deep in the Nairobi Headquarters section of the project; we have almost another month here yet. Our work is an eclectic mix of different aspects of different projects, from having sessions with different people and having the chance to seek out particular activities that we want to work on.