On to Africa

ele1When I turned twenty one I was living in California thousands of miles away from my family in South Africa. For the past few years I’d been slowly working my way around the world and it was the first and only time I ever received a letter from my father. Mum was always the designated letter writer but on this auspicious occasion my father decided a letter directly from him was warranted. In it he encouraged me to put whatever God-given talents I had to good use and he ended the letter with the following quote:

“No man is born into this world whose work is not born with him. There is always work and tools to work withal for this who will, and blessed are the horny hands of toil. The busy world shoves angrily aside the man who stands with arms akimbo set and waits until occasion tells him what to do, and he who waits to have his task marked out shall die and leave his errand unfulfilled. Our time is one that calls for earnest deeds.”

This was pretty heavy stuff for me to digest especially as my primary focus at that time was getting to Hawaii to surf its legendary big waves. However over the years I have spent an inordinate amount of time reflecting on this quote and wondering what my particular task was intended to be. For as long as I can remember I have loved all forms of wildlife and throughout my professional career I’ve always endeavored to introduce it into my presentations. However until quite recently I’ve never been willing to devote all of my time and energy and resources towards its conservation. Living in Hawaii for twenty eight years it just didn’t seem like a viable option, but with the passage of time my perspective changed.

As I travelled back and forth to Africa and saw first hand how quickly things were changing and how drastically the wildlife was being impacted, I grew more and more convinced that I needed to join in the fight against the greed and corruption that was decimating this extraordinary heritage. When you reach a certain stage in life one’s strengths and talents are self evident. Mine were obvious to me. I was very passionate about wildlife and my public speaking skills were as good, if not better, than most. How to put these to work for wildlife conservation was the question I struggled with for many years.

Thanks to social media I was being inundated with reports from a host of organizations and individuals all committed to saving Africa’s wildlife. All of their time and expertise were devoted to the cause with occasional fund raising trips abroad. I had the opportunity to listen to several of them and it became increasingly obvious that in most instances public speaking was way outside of their comfort zone. It is after all an art form in itself, one that I have spent years refining and practicing. And the more I listened, the more I realized what my task would be. I would offer my time and talent and become a voice for these organizations, or at least for the ones I felt were doing the best work, making the biggest difference, and deserved the most help. To do that I would need to spend a considerable amount of time traveling through the bush, visiting as many of them as possible, seeing them in person and working with them on the front lines.

And it was out of this that The Quest For Hope was born.

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