23 June 2007
Sleep is the last thing on the mind of Myra Williams who dreams of a better world for endangered species. By Blythe Seinor
Myra Williams doesn’t get much sleep. Well, she’d probably get more if she gave herself half a chance, but most nights she’s on the computer until well past midnight. Long after her three kids have turned off their bedroom lights, Myra is still awake organising flights and visas, sending and answering emails and coming up with new plans to save the world.
Although she doesn’t wear khaki and never says, “crikey”, Myra is most certainly one of Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors.
She is a single mum with a day job, but whenever she gets a minute to herself, she’s working on her brainchild business, Earth FX International.
Her work is all about the environment and wildlife, but whatever you do, don’t call her a hippy. “I’m not a hippy type – I don’t think that works,” she says “The knowledge and the personality and the presentation of somebody will get you much further than picketing. I don’t think may people take notice of that.”
Myra is in the middle of setting up a wildlife sanctuary in Zambia and visiting endangered animals all over the world so she can bring her experiences back to school kids in Australia. Even Myra’s day job with Imagine Technology Australia has a strong environmental focus: her role is to collect empty printer cartridges from buinesses across the coast and take them to be recycled.
The money raisied through the program is then poured in the Wildlife Hospital at Australia Zoo. “I have talked to Terri on occasion, and I met Steve a couple of times – he’s been my mentor for years.” Myra says. “I love their passion and what they set out to achieve.”
Myra’s ideas are all about the big picture, and sometimes a thought strikes her that maybe she’s taken on too much. “I hit stumbling blocks and I think, “How am I going to do thing? Why am I doing this? Why do I think I’m a person who can do this?”
When she’s doubting herself, Myra can always check her email inbox to be reminded that she’s on the right track. About once a week, she received a message from the award-winning environmentalist and author of books, David Suzuki, who’s very supportive of her work. “(With) one of my earliest ideas, he communicated with me personally about the whole thing,” she told me. ” So I know my ideas are good. I couldn’t just leave them. I have to do something about it.”
When we meet at her houme in Currimundi (which doubles as her office), Myra is just days away from flying to Asia to visit some of the world’s most endangered animals. She’s going to Thailand to visit an elephant nature park for three days, beofre heading off to China to meet the nearly extinct moon bears and then on to Malaysia where she’ll see orangutans.
Myra is hoping that when she has a “personal connection” with the animals, the organisations which help them and the people behind the scenes, she will be able to deliver an even stronger message to the students she visits through Earth FX International.
She’s already begun work with Talara Primary College – her “guinea pig school” – where her youngest child, Samara (named after one of the tigers at Dreamworld) is a student. “Samara is so into it all, she wants to stand up at presentations and have her say as well” Myra says proudly.
“Steve Adams (Principal) has been marvellous in seeing the vision of the program and how the school can become involved. Involvement with the student council has already seen different classes in the school excited about being part of the program. It’s so exciting.”
When Myra gets back from Asia, work will continue in earnest on her next plan, to set up an animal sanctuary in Zambia to look after the “small five”. ” There’s the big five in Africa, like the elephants, giraffes and lions, but we want to help the small five, like the aardvark, the pangolin’s… do you want me to show you?” Myra askes as she dashes into the next room to breing back photographs of the animals.
She has never seen these animals in the flesh, but knows all about them, and speaks about the creatures like they’re her friends.
Myra has already been working on the wildlife sancturay from a distance for eight months, and will be headin gover to Africa in August to make it a reality. ” At the moment, wildlife isn’t anything the poeple have ever known about (in Zambia),” Myra says “Many use the animals as bush meat, so it’s about educating them. We will go over there, implement the strategies, after doing it on paper, and they’ll build the enclosures, and make it work. Then it’s theirs, they own it. They then won’t want to see it fail, it’ll make the whole village sustainable.”
After her initial trip in August, Myra will head back to Zambia a couple of times a year to make sure the wildlife sanctuary continues to grow and develop. She hopes to have the whole experience filmed so she has something tangible to sho the classrooms that she visits on the Sunshine Coast and eventually around Australia.
It’s hard to imagine how Myra finds the time to do the work she does, and she’s the first to admit it isn’t easy. ” That’s what gets so frustrating because my ideas aren’t small and it takes a lot to get there.” she confesses. “But I can’t do anything else, this is just the way I’m meant to do things.”