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Finding my way - Cordula Gutekunst

Our newest volunteer, Cordula Gutekunst from Germany, shares how she found the path leading her to FTFA.

How did I end up at Food & Trees for Africa?

Well, the first time I came in touch with this fascinating organisation was when I was volunteering for the Madikwe Rural Development Programme (MRDP) at an Eco-village near Rustenburg.

I saw this wonderful poster saying: “If you want to feed a man for a day, give him money. But if you want to feed him for a life time, teach him how to grow food.”

I truly fell in love with this sentence and the ideas behind it and took that and a bit of knowledge about permaculture back to Germany. As every other 20 old I guess I was still looking for my aims in life. I always wanted to do something with animals and the environment, but I had the feeling that this should always be connected with humans as we are part of nature.

I was not really convinced to becoming a zookeeper or a birdwatcher for the only reason of protecting a few species. That seemed a bit too specific for me and I actually wanted to save the whole world and not only a little part. In addition I felt that humans and social issues are kind of left out in that field although there is a deep connection and impact in both directions.

I decided to study general Biology as a really broad start, hoping this would help me to find my way.  Unfortunately I got a lot of input in different directions, which gave me a sense of how broad the field of Biology is, but it did not help me in getting closer to my aim. So I decided to go back to South Africa, the place where the ideas of linking social and environmental issues had started to develop in my head. One semester of studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Science helped me to focus on a specific direction for a longer time than ever in my study life, which made it possible to dive a little deeper and focus on one field. There I met the field of agriculture and especially sustainable farming again and I immediately thought of gaining some more practical experience in it.

Working for Food & Trees as a volunteer gives me the opportunity to learn, while supporting the biggest environmental organisation in South Africa. I am hoping to get a deeper understanding of permaculture and in how far that can be used to create more self-sustaining communities and at the same time reducing the harmful effects that humans have on the planet. Creating environmental awareness while supporting people in especially rural areas is exactly what I consider necessary for a healthy planet and its inhabitants.

Thus, I am very happy to be part of this important process and I cannot wait to gather knowledge and experience, which will help me to find my own way of satisfactorily saving the world.

Cordula Gutekunst
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