Scholarship – Grace Seidisa
Grace began her training on 1 September 2015 in Nelspruit, South Africa. She was greeted by the EcoTraining team, who took her through some formalities, provided some uniforms and covered what she would be doing on the course.
On 2 September, Grace and her group travel to the first EcoTraining camp in Selati. They went through the “Wilderness Medicine” module for a week before passing a test.
While the rest of her group started another module in Selati, Grace then continued to the next EcoTraining camp in Mashatu in southern Botswana for a special BQA course which will be vital for her career in Botswana.
I went to Mashatu on 30 September to give Grace some company and emotional support during her first three-day exam. I think it’s important to have a personal relationship with our scholars in addition to providing financial support. This visit made it obvious that Grace was the right choice. She settled into her new group, handled the stress of learning brilliantly and impressed everyone with her joyful, self-confident nature.
After the BQA group left early on 4 October, Grace and I picked up her “old” group at the border so that they could all do the second part of the FGASA course (an important foundation course for preparing to be a professional safari guide which is recognised in South Africa) in Mashatu. Everyone was very happy to be reunited. Grace had clearly left a positive impression on this group. I returned to Maun in complete confidence that we had chosen the right person to give a scholarship to.
We stayed in close contact. Grace has been busy going through the remaining modules at different EcoTraining camps under the guidance of outstanding trainers.
In March she started her lodge placement, which is the second part of her training, with Desert & Delta Safaris, a top-notch safari company in Botswana, in order to put the theory that she had learnt over the previous months into practice.
I had an opportunity to visit one of the DDS lodges with my safari guests to see Grace in action. It seemed like she was content and learning a lot.
On 19 August, I drove to the EcoTraining Camp in Makulele to accompany Grace in the final stages of her training course. It was wonderful to see how she dealt with people and they environment, and I had the joy of being at her graduation.
I was once again impressed by her joyful and self-confident nature. One of her trainers, Okwa Sarefo, gave me some feedback which made me even more hopeful about her future. He underlined that, alongside what she had learnt about fauna & flora, it was her open and communicative nature which was one of the vital criteria for being a good guide. He believed that there was great potential for her to have a successful career in the tourism industry.
Grace is now a proud and happy graduate of her one-year professional safari guide training course. In addition to a variety of certificates from EcoTraining, she is also a member of the officially recognised Field Guide Association of Southern Africa as a Level Nature Guide, and holds a Botswanan Professional Guide licence.
Theda Gräfin Knyphausen visits Germany twice a year to speak at small events about the foundation’s current projects and any projects which are in the pipeline.
Date: October 2018
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