Andrew Muir, Rolex Laureate, 2008

The Rolex Awards
for Enterprise I am a conservationist
by training. But I don’t believe you can
do conservation work in South Africa without looking
at the social side. Whether it’s aids, whether it’s vulnerable
youth and orphans; we have massive issues. There are figures that there are up
to 88,000 child-headed households in our country. That’s a staggering amount. I live with my three sisters, I look after them and since I’m the older
one, so I am responsible. Our parents died of HIV and unfortunately
my sister got infected. To see your parents die, to have to at a very young age be
responsible for your household – the trauma and suffering must be such
that you can’t see a future. You are in survival mode. Without some kind of intervention, you are not able to get out
of those circumstances. You need to create environments
and opportunities where they get as real
an experience as possible to make that seamless transition
into the job. Umzi Wethu is a holistic
training programme geared towards vulnerable
youth and orphans. – Today we will be discussing
bird identification, I will go through
a presentation… We want to develop conservation
leaders for the future. We have in South Africa one of the most bio-diverse
countries in the world. The beauty of the
eco-tourism industry is that there are huge
job opportunities throughout a whole
set of sectors. Lincoln, like all of our graduates, has developed through the programme a passion for nature and a passion
for teaching people about nature. – As you can see, there is erosion
going on there. There is nothing growing there
anymore it’s just bare soil. And this grass is not palatable
any more for any animal. So ideally, you would replant the trees
and your local herbs to just try and regenerate
the vegetation again. I started out here in 2006 and graduated early this year. I’m now a junior ranger
and teach other kids who like me didn’t know anything
about nature, and try and get their mindsets to change
and trying to conserve as much as we can. Umzi Wethu’s only successful if our
graduates get into the job market. And more importantly, bringing that
income that they will earn back to their household. There is nothing more
rewarding for me than to go to a game reserve and see one of our graduates
doing their job. Rolex has come along at a perfect time
in Umzi Wethu’s growth. We can hopefully ensure that many thousands of young people that are vulnerable can become
valued citizens of our society. Those young people
deserve opportunities, deserve programmes
like Umzi Wethu, and it is enormously gratifying to see how they take the opportunities
that we offer them with both hands, and fly. The Rolex Awards
for Enterprise

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