Interview and authored by Priscila Bautista.
Magret Mwale was born on the 21st of April, 1997. She was born near one of the game management areas next to South Luangwa National Park in Eastern Zambia. Throughout her life, she was surrounded by stunning views of nature, including the wildlife that inhabits it. While she had previously imagined herself going into nursing, Thandiwe Mweetwa, Zambian Carnivore Programme Project Manager for the South Luangwa site, enlightened Magret and her high school classmates about the importance of conservation. This newfound passion for conservation propelled Magret forward.
Once she completed high school, she started volunteering at the Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP) for two years. During this time, she applied to Copperbelt University, Kitwe, Zambia. Whereas she had previously believed she would never have the opportunity to attend university because of the exorbitant fees, she now had hope as she applied to the Wildlife Conservation Scholarship provided by Dazzle Africa. Little did she know, her life was about to change once more.
Her dream was made a reality on the 20th of October 2020. Dr. Matt Becker, CEO of ZCP, confirmed that thanks to the gracious help of Nancy Law and Mike Paredes, she was ready to attend university. The sponsorship opened up a whole new world of opportunities for Magret and helped her build up the hope she had lost. Before she knew it, she was headed to one of Zambia’s top universities.
Although working in the field can be difficult and not everyone has the passion to do so, Magret loves spending time out in the field as it allows her to monitor different animals and learn more about them. One of her favorite animals is the African Wild Dog and her field experience allows her to learn more about them such as their hunting practices and social habits. When she’s not in the field, she is diligently studying as she takes foundational courses and prepares for a future of biometry, genetics, land survey, etc. She works hard in the field and in the classroom in order to achieve her goals: aiding in conservation efforts and inspiring women and girls in Zambia.
1) What was it like growing up in Zambia? How has growing up there been good and /or bad for you?
Growing up in Zambia, I have had both good and bad times. I was born in one of the Game Management Areas (GMA) next to South Luangwa National Park in Eastern Zambia. I was surrounded by stunning nature and wildlife. I had a lot of friends growing up and we had a lot of fun. Challenges that existed include health care and education. I am glad that in the end, I was able to get an education and get to university.
2) Growing up, did you or those around you have certain expectations as to what your education would look like?
In secondary school, I never knew who I would be when I graduated. I once thought I would train to be a nurse. I had an existing interest in wildlife before but everything changed in high school when I was in grade 12. I was inspired by Thandiwe Mweetwa, the ZCP Project Manager for the Luangwa site. At the time she managed the organization’s conservation education program and she came to our school with some pupils from Chipembele Conservation Club. The program talked about conservation and its importance and that is when I started looking at conservation as a career.
3) What did it feel like when you found out you had gotten sponsored? (Where were you, how did you find out, who were you around when you got the news )
When I completed high school I started volunteering at Zambian Carnivore Programme ( ZCP) for about two years. During that period, I applied to one of the biggest universities in Zambia which is The Copperbelt University but I could not begin studies because of a lack of funds. I was fortunate to find sponsors after applying for a woman in wildlife conservation scholarship through Dazzle Africa. I got the happy news on the 20th of October 2020. I was excited but at the same time, I didn’t believe the news, not until Dr. Matt Becker, our CEO, confirmed to me that my sponsors are ready to take me to university. I was really happy because it was the only hope I had at that time.
4) What kind of doors has your sponsorship opened up for you? Has it changed the way you view your future?
I never thought I would go to university because I knew my parents could not manage the high fees. The sponsorship has made it possible for me to begin my university career.
5) How are you feeling about school? Have any of your plans changed?
The future now seems bright because I have the financial support required. I look forward to pursuing my studies at one of Zambia’s top universities.
6) Where are you going to school and what are you studying? (What has been your favorite class, What do you find yourself drawn to, what extracurriculars are you involved in, etc. )
This year, I will be taking foundation courses such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, communication skills, and computer science. Starting from the second year, I will be taking courses such as Biometry, Genetics, Land Survey, Remote Sensing, and Soil Science.
I look forward to learning about remote sensing because it is a new course.
7) How do you feel about being a woman in conservation? ( What do you love about it, What are some challenges involved, What does that mean to you, Why were you inspired to be a woman in conservation, etc.)
I am happy to be one of the women working in conservation. Not everyone has an opportunity and the zeal to work in the field. I love spending time out in the field monitoring different animals and learning more about their behavior. I will work hard so that I can continue contributing to conservation in Zambia and one day become an inspiration to many women and girls in my country.
I always enjoy being out in the field collecting different kinds of data and I was just hearing about hyenas being scavengers not until I saw it with my very own eyes. And the other thing is spending nights in the field. It feels good though at first I was scared like what if animals attack us which has never happened since I started working and spending nights out in the field.
Read more about the Dazzle Africa education program. To sponsor an inspiring student like Magret and change a life, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Or to donate to a general fund for education to help assist in extra tuitions, computers, and classrooms, please donate here. Thank you for making the world a better place through the opportunity of an education.