Around the World with Damien and Vimbai
What a wonderful opportunity we had to share our anti-poaching work – and through such a renown and well-respected platform!
In October, National Geographic Live welcomed to their tour stage International Anti-Poaching Foundation’s (IAPF) Founder, Damien Mander, and Akashinga ranger, Sergeant Vimbai Kumire.
IAPF is proud to have two of our own become part of this highly acclaimed speaker series—National Geographic Live—which features “behind-the-scenes stories, stunning imagery, and griping footage from world-renowned photographers, scientists, authors, filmmakers, and adventurers.”
We’re pleased that IAPF’s anti-poaching work in Africa could be featured as Damien shared his journey from special operations in the military to training women to be wildlife rangers in northern Zimbabwe. He weaved together a comprehensive look at his military background and training, from childhood stories to hitting rock bottom after leaving Iraq, and from arriving in Africa to be inspired to change his life by an unlikely hero…a wildlife ranger.
Damien was joined by Vimbai Kumire, Sergeant and Squad Leader of Akashinga, IAPF’s all-female anti-poaching program in Zimbabwe. Vimbai shared her journey from abandoned single mother of two, to becoming a wildlife ranger who now pays her children’s school fees and recently built her own home – all while protecting endangered species!
This speaker series follows IAPF’s being featured in print and web versions of National Geographic magazine in June of 2019.
A Warm Reception
Our involvement in the tour commenced in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and stopped in three US cities: Mesa, Arizona; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon. This part of the tour ended in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, but there are more events to come (see end of article).
The theatres allowed Damien and Vimbai to speak to between 1,200 and 2,000 people…and the venues all sold out! It was rewarding to see peoples’ hearts moved by the story of our all-female ranger unit Akashinga – which means “The Brave Ones” in local dialect. We were honored to have multiple standing ovations, which lets us know that our audience agrees with our important work to protect wildlife and wild lands while employing women who need a second chance in life.
Each evening was charged with positive energy as Damien spoke for 65 minutes and then Vimbai for 20. After their talks, audiences engaged in lively Q & A sessions.
Damien and Vimbai were pleased to get to say hello to many attendees at the meet and greets after each presentation. Sometimes the line of people waiting to meet them wrapped around the building! IAPF thanks each of you for your sincere support…and patience in line.
We want to express our gratitude to Natali Freeling, Greg Epton, Andrew Pudvah, Alex Wenchel, and Melissa Sanchez for their hard work ensuring this tour was a success.