18 July is Mandela Day. The theme for 2022 goes around food security and climate change. The tagline – do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

I have been a bit quiet on the blog after posting up a storm during my magical month of May on the Rise of the Matriarch expedition. A month and a bit into my wildlife conservation internship immersed in bush life has been full on. So much to see and do and experience every day. Starting before dawn each day and flopping into bed late at night after very full days has left little space for my usual reflection time.

Now a few days leave in a quiet spot on the Olifants River, my energy is recharged. My cup is full once more with just how beautifully the universe times things. A chance to reflect on upcoming Mandela Day. A chance to grieve the loss of inspirational giants like Madiba and Johnny Clegg. A chance to spend time in a Coexistence Garden quietly weeding, planting, watering, harvesting. A chance to ruminate over unexpected friendships, of true connection like I have rarely experienced in my life to date. A chance to hear the voices of loved ones on the other side of the world. A chance to revel in the spirit of Ubuntu and its impact on my life in a very real way right now. A chance to be grateful beyond words in this moment. A chance to Trust.

The word that keeps hovering in the background for me is Coexistence. This theme of existing in the same time and space as all that is. Coexistence comes with a connotation of peaceful existence, of courage, of compassion. Coexistence is shared experience, the bitter and the sweet. We are all in this together.

During the Rise of the Matriarch I got to coexist with some of the most gorgeous human beings on the planet for a month of splendid adventure. We laughed, we cried, we truly shared the spirit of Ubuntu with each other and the wildlife we encountered along the way.

At the GVI Limpopo base where I am currently completing my wildlife conservation internship I coexist with other humans drawn here by the promise of a wild African experience. It is quite intense communal living which can overwhelm my introverted soul at times. But what has struck me is this temporary Coexistence is so positive in so many ways. Making life-long friends in a matter of days. I believe it is living in the wild, plugged into Nature so fully, that facilitates this level of Coexistence.

On my off days I have had the wonderful fortune to spend time in the Elephants Alive Coexistence Garden. The whole premise of this project being to find ways to mitigate human-elephant conflict at the same time as empowering communities with alternative income sources and food production. I could not do much to help, really. As I pulled weeds and harvested borage seeds surrounded by the happy bees, just kept the words of Mandela Day close – do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

In these days so often filled with sham and drudgery, may you find peace and hope in Coexistence. Be kind to yourself as you do what can, with what you have, where you are 🖤