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Changing the world, starting in Zambia

Changing the world, starting in Zambia

2010 Sunshine Coast Daily E1344425184626

Sunshine Coast Daily

21 March 2010

Moved by a nation’s beautiful but ailing environment and wildlife, Myra Williams has set out on a difficult mission                         By Luke Robertson

 

Zambia doesn’t know it yet, but a Sunshine Coast woman is plotting to change the face of the country.

 

Well, that’s not quite accurate. Myra Williams is actually plotting to help the people themselves protect and nurture the environment of their country. She’s not talking change, she’s bringing it.

 

It all starts with Myra’s lifelong love of animals and their habitats, along with her steely determination to convince peole of the dire need to value them. “My life is about the environment and that’s what I’m passionate about,” she said proudly from the kitchen of her Currimundi home. ” Everything that I put together is aimed at everybody else hopefully grabbing hold of just how much it means and how much we need to protect it.”

For may people, animal welfare is about keeping Rover’s water bowl clean and taking him out for a walk. But not Myra Williams. This woman has set her sights on no lesser challenge than changing the world: starting in Zambia.

As she says, “I don’t much look at the small things.”

 

In Zambia last year to help build a school with a team from Sunshine Coast – based Empower Youth (her role was maintaining the environmental integrity of the project), Myra was strongly moved, firstly by the sheer beauty of the country, and secondly by the diminishing numbers of wildlife and rapidly deteriorating environment.

The extent of the environmental problems hit Myra while looking at photos in Zambia’s native animals with a group of  children: the children had only ever seen one of the top 10 most common animals in the wild. She was moved to such an extent that she decided to do something. She created the not-for-profit Earth FX International organisation with its first project being a wildlife sanctuary for Zambia.

 

But this will be no ordinary sanctuary. This one is as much about providing opportunity for Zambians as it is for their wildlife. Along with an animal hospital and rehabilitation facilities. Myra’s proposed wildlife sanctuary will dovetail with vocational and tourist facilities. Why give a person a fish when you can teach them to fish for themselves?

Zambians are no different to other people in that safeguarding animals and their habitats falls in well behind the need to feed a hungry family. The vocational and tourist functions of the sanctuary will educate and train locals but will also offer financial incentives and show them how valuable an asset a healthy environment can be.

 

The next step in this massive task will see Myra and a team of experts on a three-week trip to Zambia to determine the actual layout of the project. For environmental warrior Myra, this will mean stretching her talents to negotiating with government ministers and plunging  head first into the bureaucratic wrangling that accompanies such an undertaking.

Scary ground for most people but Myra’s confidence never waivers.

“yes, I am going to be working alongside some very important people in Zambia, in the government, to get this going on an economic evelopment basis in relation to the entire country’s economy.” she said “just to show how environmentally friendly choices can work, how sustainability can work for the nation and for its people.

“All stakeholders can benefit – especially through the tourism but also through job creation, community involvement and public enterprise.”