Mary Hastag - Children in the Wilderness and Community Development Coordinator Botswana
Mary Magdalene Hastag joined Wilderness in 2011 as the Children in the Wilderness (CITW) and Community Development Coordinator in Botswana. She believes that education is key to unlocking the potential of people and abolishing poverty in the world.
Mary grew up on her parents’ farm in the Kgalagadi District of southern Botswana. As a caring and benevolent individual, her career aptly began as a Secondary School Teacher while she continued her studies in Community Development. She then joined Botswana Red Cross (BRCS) as a National Youth Coordinator before joining the Botswana Family Welfare Association (BOFWA) as Regional Coordinator for North West District. During her time at BRCS and BOFWA, her tireless pursuit of improving herself continued as she completed a Guidance and Counselling course and qualified in Human Resource Management.
When Mary left BOFWA she consulted for a few safari companies in Maun and Kasane over a two-year period and then joined Abercrombie & Kent as the Human Resource and Staff Welfare Manager. In 2011 she was offered a position by Wilderness Safaris which she snapped up as she knew her work would entail community development and uplifting the lives of the local people; her passion.
During her short three years with Wilderness Safaris she has been involved in the setting up and operation of CITW Eco-Clubs in ten schools, hosting 500 children a year. She also organised Teacher/Mentor Training for 20 school teachers, with the aim of teaching them how to facilitate and run Eco-Clubs. She is currently working on an Empowering Women Programme, which includes projects to diversify livelihoods and promote local socio-economic development.
Mary not only believes in helping others to develop and be the best they can be, but she also lives by this mantra. She says, “Education is the only tool that can change your life status from poverty” and therefore was very excited to be nominated as one of the participants for Wilderness Safaris’ Business School 2013/14. What is more, this year she will be starting an online Management Development Programme through the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Mary is proud to be associated with Wilderness Safaris. She says, “Wilderness Safaris acknowledges the importance of contributing to biodiversity conservation by actively participating in research and conservation projects. The adjoining rural communities benefit through employment, land leases and, in the bigger picture, with tourism being the second highest contributor to Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product, this should benefit all Batswana people in the long run.”