Our 30th year in Tanzania was officially kicked off at a gala event and silent art auction last week. With over 300 Thomson Safaris travelers and friends in attendance, the room buzzed with safari stories and nostalgic recollections of trips of a lifetime as new friends met and old friends reconnected.
Rick and Judi opened the lecture portion of the night by sharing their 30 year journey as one of the first operators in Tanzania’s fledgling tourism industry. Photos from their personal archives not only gave guests an occasional chuckle but also gave them a glimpse of how much Tanzania and its tourism industry has grown.
Guests were also treated to a lecture from Dr. Farish Jenkins, Harvard professor of zoology and longtime Thomson Safaris trip leader, who spoke about the future of African wildlife in an ever-changing world. He was joined by Emmanuel Kileo, a Thomson Safaris’ head guide, who added his first-hand field accounts to support Dr. Jenkins’ data.
Next on the agenda was a Focus on Tanzanian Communities (FoTZC) board member who spoke about women’s empowerment and community development in her native country of Tanzania. She provided examples of several projects completed by FoTZC and Thomson Safaris in the past year to benefit communities around the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Finally a key manager from Thomson’s Arusha office, spoke about the importance of Tanzanians supporting their own people and determining their own destinies. She also spoke movingly about working for a company that shares her ethics and her love for Tanzania.
Judi topped it all off with a champagne toast to Tanzania and a nod to the next 30 years!
Since the evening was sponsored by Thomson, all the proceeds from the silent auction went straight to FoTZC and a Maasai women’s collaborative, whose crafts were showcased along with generous donations from our favorite wildlife photographers Andy Biggs and Randy Hanna, and paintings by Tanzanian artists Peter Ray, Robert Aswani, Riziki Kateya and Louise Hill. In total, $10,000 was raised!
Thank you to all who attended for making it an unforgettable night…Thanks to those who would have loved to attend, but lent their support from afar…and thanks to Tanzania for three decades of friendship, collaboration and adventure.