“During high school I loved geography and agriculture. These subjects opened the gates for me to enrol in Environmental Management, which today helps me to teach my community why the natural environment needs to be conserved.”
Awelani or ‘Awe’ was born the second of five children in Ha-Mashau Thondoni village, Venda, in Limpopo Province. Her interest in nature conservation was sparked when nature conservators presented to her primary school assembly on the importance of conserving indigenous trees and the natural environment. Her interest grew at high school through her enjoyment of agriculture and geography, and she began to want to encourage and educate other people in her rural community to become stewards of the environment. When Awe is not working she enjoys reading and spending time with her daughter, Hlalala. Awe is inspired by her mother, who she describes as a fighter against all odds and in possession of a ‘winning spirit’. From her mother she learned to appreciate the new experiences and adventures that life has to offer her.
Awe decided that becoming an environmental manager would be the best means of supporting her community to become more environmentally sustainable. She completed an undergraduate degree in Environmental Management from the University of Venda and has a National Certificate (NQF Level 5) in Environmental Education from WEESA.
Through the Groen Sebenza internship programme, Awe has been placed at Emanti Management in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. She currently assists the company with the use and implementation of sector tools, e.g. the Water Research Commission (WRC) water safety plan tool for the Western Cape and the Waste Water Risk Abatement tool (WWRAP) for KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape. She is also involved in a new WRC project that aims to develop Emergency Response Plans for small community water systems in KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape. She has enjoyed learning about the processes and procedures involved in water treatment plants.
Awe likes to be challenged by her work, and aims to be part of the solution by bringing her own life experiences and the perspectives that they have given her to her daily work. She hopes one day to work for any challenging environmental organisation as an environmental inspector and her dream is to have her own company that conducts environmental inspections for Environmental Impact Assessments.