For Francis and Barry, travelling is as important as breathing. Originally from South Africa, they immigrated to Canada in 2011 after completing a two-year world adventure. With a need to shed their careers and all related expectations, they reduced their worldly possessions to the contents of their backpacks and permanently left home.
They visited remarkable places such as Argentina, Antarctica, Chile, Peru and Kenya. They climbed Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro. They also experienced the 8.8 magnitude earthquake which struck Chile in February 2010, and were caught at sea in a three-day, gale force storm on their way to Antarctica. By 2011, that phase of their travels was complete, and they became new Canadians.
Fuelled by volunteer work on a biomimicry project in South Africa, the couple decided to expand their knowledge of environmental issues in Canada. Nature's ability to solve problems as applied to our current crises was of great interest to them. Francis' research led her to a Vancouver talk on the science of biomimicry by Dr. Faisal Moola, then Foundation director of terrestrial conservation and current director general, Ontario and the North. Inspired, Francis and Barry then successfully applied to volunteer. The rest, as they say, is history.
Barry and Francis have contributed hundreds of hours to the Foundation, in Public Information, photographing special events, and on multiple projects throughout the office. I asked them what they felt they had contributed to the Foundation and how this ties in to their daily life and values:
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Francis: "Perhaps I've been the most fortunate because I've volunteered with almost every department. It's afforded me the opportunity to help many of the staff at DSF and to find out more about the work they do. I love learning, so I'm always eager to discover what new challenges my 'special projects' will bring."
Barry: "I enjoy replying to the range of questions we get in Public Information. My knowledge around the issues we face has grown significantly and I am learning more each time I come into the office. I have also been fortunate to capture some images of David Suzuki in action at a few events — from a photographic perspective, this is great fun! I think that it's critical we start looking at benign solutions to the problems we have created on this planet. Action needs to be taken, and we cannot simply hope the problems will go away."
Barry and Francis joined us in January of this year, and continue their weekly commitment to the Foundation. We thank them for all the life experience, knowledge and energy they contribute.