by MICHELLE JANA CHAN
"How could you possibly love traveling 300 days a year," asks English primatologist Dame Jane Goodall, 84, "when it’s just hotels and meetings, all the lines at security, the terrible pat-you-downs and how they treat you like a criminal?" Goodall details her flights for the next few months: Bangkok, Taiwan (which she loves), Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, then Greece, Spain, and France. She drags around a suitcase she named the Coffin, full of books, a single-cup electrical-heating element and a jar of Marmite, and always carries a stuffed toy monkey called Mr. H. Yet the pioneering researcher-turned-activist doesn’t plan to change her schedule any time soon. Her lectures are near-evangelistic, often provoking tears and ovations. "They’ve been selling out, sometimes 5,000 seats in one day," she says. Goodall was 10, reading Dr. Doolittle and Tarzan, when she decided "to live with wild animals in Africa." After school, a friend invited her to Kenya and she worked as a waitress to save up for her boat passage to Mombasa in 1957. There she met the paleontologist Louis Leakey who gave her the opportunity to work as a chimpanzee researcher, even fast-tracking her place at Cambridge so she would be qualified. She then spent half a century observing the chimpanzees at Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, tearing up the book on what we thought we knew of animal behavior and inspiring a cultish obsession with our closest relative in the animal kingdom.
Elewana Collection has had the honour of hosting Jane Goodall on a few occasions at Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge, when we celebrated the International Day of Forests and Dr. Jane Goodall planted a tree in the grounds with children from the neighbouring local schools. We also had the privilege of hosting a fundraising Cocktail evening at the Lodge for the Roots & Shoots foundation.
Dr. Goodall has been an inspiration to millions. She conveys a clear, undisputed message; “We all matter, We are all connected, We all have a part to play in the world and if we choose to play that part we can and will make a difference”. It is a message that has both resonated throughout the world whilst giving hope to each of us, moving people across the planet to conserve the natural world, which we all share and to care a little more for others.
There are a number of other inspirational women listed that have connections to East Africa, including Karen Blixen, who travelled to Kenya to start a coffee farm with her husband, her story was made famous by the book and film ‘Out of Africa’. The other is Nyaruach, a single mother of two living in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, who lost her family and now wants to help women and children of war not to give up hope.
Click here to be inspired to travel by these 30 women.