Fulfilling My Passion for Africa

Monday, March 05, 2012

How a Young Woman Found Herself and Her Future Career in Africa 

By Amy Rizzotto, Major Gifts Officer, African Wildlife Foundation

Like many of my peers at the George Washington University, I was dedicated to the idea of studying abroad during my junior year. Hungry for a challenge, I decided to stray from the pack and avoid Europe altogether. When it came time to apply there was only one place I wanted to go: Senegal.

I packed my bags and headed off to Africa. I was only 20. But it was in Senegal that I truly came into my own as a person. Being truly out of my element for the first time—tasting new food, experiencing a new culture, hearing unknown languages, and living with a host family—forced me to figure out who I was. So often our surroundings define us, and it’s easy to blend into our environment. There was no blending in for me in Senegal.

Beyond the personal confidence and identity I found during my time in Senegal, I also fell in love with a continent and its quandaries. It was in Africa that I decided I wanted to focus my future on Africa. Many African economies are beginning to experience the kind of growth rates we have previously only associated with East Asia. The International Monetary Fund projects that Africa will continue to grow at a rate of 6% in 2012—on par with many rising economic players in Asia. (Incidentally, much of the recent burgeoning development in Africa has largely been fueled by investment from China.)

As someone who believes that development should be achieved in a socially sustainable and environmentally conscious manner, I do worry that there are some drawbacks to this type of growth. There are also the omnipresent effects of climate change—desertification and deforestation being two of the biggest threats. Africa is rich in natural resources and human capital, but still suffers from exploitation and avarice. Most African countries have been independent since the 1960s, but there are new powers pulling the purse strings that need to be kept under the international microscope.

Five years after my first trip to Africa, I’ve landed an Afrocentric job with a dream organization, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). At AWF, I constantly encounter development and conservation paradigms like those I’ve already mentioned. Our biggest challenge as an organization, however, is to debunk the notion that conservation and development are diametrically opposed. Conservation is by definition the protection, preservation, and reclamation of natural ecosystems and the biodiversity they support. Development, meanwhile, is essentially taking concerted actions that will lead to economic growth and a raised standard of living. AWF has developed a unique conservation model wherein people are the most important agents in the conservation of their wildlife and wild lands.

Too many conservation organizations take people for granted in their programming—but AWF understands that its conservation goals are unattainable without community agency and buy-in. Our efforts focus heavily on capacity building and community empowerment. We seek to make conservation and development go hand in hand by ensuring that people benefit from our endeavors to protect Africa’s biodiversity. For example, we preserve the integrity of natural wildlife corridors, which are essential to the survival of migratory animals like the African elephant, wildebeest, and lion, but we also work with communities to develop conservation enterprises—such as high-end eco-lodges—that allow locals to gain an economic benefit from having this wildlife nearby. From Rwanda to Kenya to Zambia and elsewhere, we’ve created multiple such win–win situations for wildlife and people.

In addition to our efforts to address the complex human–wildlife dynamic, AWF is the only conservation organization that is solely focused on Africa. It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and upwards of 80% of our employees are native African. AWF has also been rated a four-star organization by Charity Navigator 10 years running—a feat fewer than 1% of nonprofit organizations can claim. These pride points make my job as a major gifts officer for AWF much easier.

Professional fundraisers are only effective if they genuinely believe in the cause they represent. I'm so fortunate because my values couldn’t be better aligned with those of AWF.

Lorie commented on 28-Aug-2012 01:17 PM
Truly helpful....look ahead to coming back. I enjoy the way you really have covered the topic! Keep up the inspiring work... Cheerio :o :-)
pall mall cigarette commented on 29-Aug-2012 06:30 PM
My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different web page and thought I might check things out. I like what I see so now i'm following you. Look forward to finding out about your web page repeatedly.
windows vps commented on 30-Aug-2012 05:30 AM
I just like the helpful info you provide for your articles. I will bookmark your blog and test once more right here regularly. I'm quite sure I'll be told plenty of new stuff proper right here! Best of luck for the following!
orthodontic insurance commented on 30-Aug-2012 12:42 PM
What Does an Orthodontist do? orthodontic insurance
Carson commented on 30-Aug-2012 03:09 PM
So useful, looking onward to coming back.
buy provillus commented on 30-Aug-2012 04:32 PM
Right now it looks like Expression Engine is the preferred blogging platform available right now. (from what I've read) Is that what you're using on your blog?
Penelope commented on 31-Aug-2012 03:49 AM
What's Taking place i'm new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It positively useful and it has aided me out loads. I'm hoping to give a contribution & help other users like its helped me. Great job.
Bundesliga Live Stream commented on 31-Aug-2012 01:52 PM
Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new to everything. Do you have any tips
for newbie blog writers? I'd certainly appreciate it.
magazin commented on 31-Aug-2012 02:02 PM
Quality posts is the crucial to invite the users to go to see the website, that's what this site is providing.
Mitchell commented on 02-Sep-2012 05:01 PM
Hello friends, its impressive article about educationand fully explained, keep it up all the time.
newport cigarettes website commented on 02-Sep-2012 10:03 PM
Simply wish to say your article is as surprising. The clarity in your post is simply excellent and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million
and please keep up the enjoyable work.
Useful Source commented on 03-Sep-2012 07:16 PM
I love what you guys tend to be up too. This kind of clever work and exposure! Keep up the wonderful works guys I've incorporated you guys to my personal blogroll.
bulova marine star review commented on 04-Sep-2012 03:05 PM
Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your website? My blog is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my users would really benefit from some of the information you present here. Please let
me know if this alright with you. Cheers!
kent cigarettes official website commented on 04-Sep-2012 09:50 PM
I do not even know how I stopped up here, however I believed this publish used to be great. I don't understand who you are however definitely you're going to a well-known blogger when you aren't already. Cheers!
felons jobs commented on 05-Sep-2012 11:02 AM
This site definitely has all of the information and facts I wanted concerning this subject and didn't know who to ask.
mbt __ commented on 05-Sep-2012 11:21 AM
Thanks for finally writing about >Altruette Journal: News, Press, and New Releases <Loved it!
Acompanhantes commented on 05-Sep-2012 11:49 PM
If some one desires to be updated with hottest technologies then he must be pay a visit this web site and be up to date every day.
salem cigarettes review commented on 06-Sep-2012 03:51 AM
Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of hard work due to no data backup. Do you have any methods to protect against hackers?
Julie commented on 06-Sep-2012 10:25 AM
Appreciate it for sharing this cool website.
BBCiPlayer commented on 06-Sep-2012 09:26 PM
Hello my family member! I wish to say that this article is amazing, great written and include almost all important infos. I'd like to look extra posts like this .
Rita commented on 06-Sep-2012 10:11 PM
At this moment I am ready to do my breakfast, after having my breakfast coming yet again to read further news.
BTC Protein Shows Promise To Naturally Boost Brain Repair commented on 07-Sep-2012 01:42 AM
I'm not sure exactly why but this blog is loading incredibly slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I'll check back later and see if the problem still exists.
Aurora commented on 07-Sep-2012 08:37 PM
Hey there, You've completed an superb task. I would certainly reddit the idea and in addition with regard to my personal part often recommend to a few close friends. naturally i am positive these people will end up being benefited from this valuable web
Edwardo commented on 08-Sep-2012 11:22 AM
each time i used to read smaller articles or reviews which as well clear their motive, and that is also happening with this piece of writing which I am reading here.
Pete commented on 08-Sep-2012 02:00 PM
I always emailed this blog post page to all my contacts, as if like to read it afterward my links will too.

Post a Comment

Captcha Image