Co-Founder and Executive Director
Kellie grew up in a village surrounded by big cities. Her love for nature and sense of sustainability was taught to her by her parents. When she was only 10 years old, she already knew her dream job would be with Greenpeace, fighting for nature. Not surprisingly, she followed her dreams and ended up studying about climate change, sustainability and conservation in the years to follow.
During these years she had the opportunity to spend several months doing research and/or studying in Australia, South Africa and the Philippines. These experiences opened her mind to all the different cultures and views on how nature can be protected. Her sense of direction switched from focusing ‘only’ on fighting for nature, to fighting for the people who depend on nature.
“In the Philippines, I saw the impact local people can have on nature, both in a positive and negative sense. It was astonishing to see that the research I contributed to in this area positively changed the future of the local community and the nature. I realised that even though this was just one small step towards a sustainable planet, many small steps will make the world a better place. This experience rooted a belief in me that the solutions to protect and conserve nature can actually be found with the local people.”
Her heart, however, was sold to Africa and its majestic wildlife. After an exploratory trip in 2017 to several southern African countries, and two more years of working in the Netherlands to save up money, Kellie and her partner finally jumped in head-first and moved to Zambia in 2019. Here, the journey of founding a nature conservation and community development NGO in Africa started.
“For the future, both my own and that of By Life Connected, I strongly wish to build on a more sustainable planet. I think we can do this by creating a ripple effect of collaborations and a lot of small steps in the form of local nature and community development projects.”
Co-Founder and Executive Director
As a young boy you could often find Lars hidden in the bushes, in search for ladybugs, digging up earthworms or catching locusts. He grew up in a big city in a country were nature is sparse. But with his magnifying glass in his pocket, Lars always managed to find the nature close to him. And he kept doing that while growing up.
During his study years, Lars got the opportunity to travel Australia, New Zealand and Thailand and implement research in both the Philippines and South Africa. All of these countries have an abundance of nature, compared to what he grew up with. While getting to know more of the world, Lars remains very aware of how valuable those little pieces of nature were for him growing up. In many of the countries he visited, he found that the countries with a lot of nature often have a lack of welfare, while the ones with less nature are usually richer in money.
These experiences and personal revelations have motivated him to find a middle way between these worlds, in which people and nature can both coexist ánd thrive at the same time. During his studies, he already felt an attraction towards including local communities in this process. Both his master thesis (South Africa) and internship (Philippines) were about how the local communities can be empowered by the natural areas they live in. And so came about one of the core values of By Life Connected, through Lars his passion and belief that the local people are the solution to nature conservation. His life goal is to build on a balanced future between nature and people, together with governments, organizations and rural communities.
Area Project Manager Livingstone
Tiza’s awareness of environmental challenges came from her real-life experience living in the shanty compounds of Lusaka. As a child, she witnessed and experienced many unimaginable hardships such as inadequate water supply, minimum levels of sanitation, disease outbreaks and hunger. The impact of these challenges really came into perspective when she lost her sister to cholera. She began connecting the dots on the causes of environmental-related diseases and was keen to make a difference in areas of sanitation, water, and solid waste management.
In the 10th grade she wrote an essay on the effects of water and plastic pollution on the environment and people. This landed her an opportunity to attend a UNICEF Children’s conference on climate change. It gave her a different perspective on the environment and made her commit her time to Climate Change advocacy, becoming a Climate Ambassador.
She has since then used her voice to mobilize communities and youth for climate action and call on world leaders to take urgent action on the Climate and Biodiversity crisis. She has represented Zambia on global stages such as International Global Network Model United Nations in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) council. An she was a speaker at the UN75 Conference; Shaping the Future Together for Sustainability.
Today, she is a dedicated young leader in conservation and a Project Manager using her skills to conserve nature, and promote better livelihoods for communities and sustainable development. Her greatest joy is having an opportunity to create a balance between nature and people through projects.
Area Project Manager Mulendema
Samuel grew up in Zingalume, a compound in the periphery of Lusaka. This is where his passion for the environment was inspired. “As a young boy, I witnessed several environmental problems up close. Think of epidemics like cholera, which is transmitted through contaminated water, but also flooding and droughts. Since I was young, I've always felt that ordinary citizens like myself can step up and provide solutions to environmental problems for themselves.”
Finally, he decided that the way he can contribute to help his people overcome these environmental problems, is to follow a degree in Environmental Education. With over 5 years of experience in the environment sector, "Sweet Uncle Sam" as his peers used to call him during his university days, is heavily equipped with extensive research and teaching methodology skills that have helped him execute various education conservation programs in schools and communities.
His dream is to see community led conservation efforts taking centre stage in the global fight against environmental issues and problems.
"The bigger, the better."
Operations Manager Mulendema
Sapren’s love for nature started when he was a young boy, growing up in a town on the edge of Kafue National Park. Making his way to school as a kid, he and his brothers and friends used to encounter many wild animals roaming around the park, which taught them to negotiate their way through the bush without alarming the animals.
As he got older, Sapren wanted to stay close to nature and spent over 6 years working in one of the lodges in the national park. “Growing up and working around the park has had a big impact on my life, it has shaped my thoughts on a lot of issues,” he recounts.
“So when the opportunity came to work with By Life Connected, whose work is strongly linked to what happens in and around the park, there was no way I was going to say no. I have been with BLC since operations started in 2019, and I cannot think of a better occupation than this.”
For the future, Sapren would love to see a world where people and wild animals can live together in peace and harmony. “I believe the Kafue National Park has a lot to contribute to communities around it, if we understand how the ecosystem works and how we can benefit from it.”
Education Officer Mulendema
When Getrude was little, her father used to take her into the forests and showed her how to identify the types of trees that were surrounding them. She was fascinated by the exchange of CO2 for O2 and realised that people cannot survive without nature, but that nature could easily survive without us.
Gertrude, with her passion for forestry, loves to carry our field work to a higher level. Before coming to work with BLC, Gertrude has worked with a number of community-based natural resource conserving organizations in Mumbwa district and beyond. With over 10 years of experience in this field, she’s become a very resourceful stakeholder in the Kafue National Park ecosystem amongst many other environmental sectors in zambia.
Gertrude brings to the table a wealth of knowledge and experiences which include forestry, stakeholder analysis, community mobilization and conservation education. Her knowledge about trees and forests has been of great importance in By Life Connected’s mandate to restore forests and empower communities.
When she’s not busy saving the world, Gertrude loves to dance and play netball. She dreams of a Zambia where natural resource protection will be on top of every agenda in the country.
Operations Manager Livingstone
Brian has had many different jobs before settling down at By Life Connected. He started out as a custom officer, but at one point he started to realize he’s not the type of person to be sitting in an office all day. Looking for a job where he could be closer to nature, Brian became a professional river guide—a job he absolutely loved. Being a river guide in Livingstone, means he basically went rafting for a living. “You feel the adrenaline, and how lucky we are to have Zambia as our home country,” Brian explains. The adrenaline continued when he started as a guide at Green Safaris Tongabezi lodge, where he experienced hippo attacks and charging elephants, and met people from all over the world. Eventually, Brian became Island Manager at Green Safaris’ Sindabezi lodge.
However, when in 2020 the tourism sector was heavily affected by pandemic, Brian had to look for another job. Having met Lars and Kellie at Sindabezi, he shared his love of nature with them and the belief that humans and animals should live in harmony, and a collaboration was born. Brian hopes to contribute to educating others in how to take care of nature so we can all reap the benefits.
Human Resource Livingstone Manager
Titus did well in school and was a hard-working student; his dream was to become an accountant. Seeing his potential, his brother took him to Lusaka so that Titus could continue his studies at a better school. However, when his brother passed away in the late nineties, he no longer had any sponsorship to continue his studies and was forced to return to the village. Having done away with his intention of becoming an accountant, he shifted his mindset and started looking for adventure and a profession more closely related to his hometown. “There’s no place like home,” as Titus says.
It just so happened that at that time, the owner of the famous bungee jump on the bridge at the Victoria Falls was looking for Zambians workers, and Titus became the videographer who filmed the daredevils jumping down, dangling from a cord above the gorge himself. As he had limited conversations with the adrenaline junkies that made the jump, he came to realize he wanted to have more interaction with with the tourists visiting his country. Luck was on his side, and he was picked by a Zimbabwean company to be a river guide on the Zambezi. With over 20 years of experience, Titus is still a passionate river guide.
At the same time, Titus’ involvement in the community rose, and he was appointed headman of Mukuni village, making him a traditional leader. Titus therefore forms a crucial link between the community and By Life Connected, while also having a deep understanding of the tourism industry in Livingstone. He has a big heart for his community and strongly wishes to see it flourish in the future, which he thinks can be achieved through improving land use:
“We’re realizing that with this land, we can do wonders. We are still doing a lot of sensitization though, we’re still getting everyone’s head in the game. Our forefathers were doing better than us actually, there’s a lot of overgrazing. We can still get back to the system of our forefathers, getting back to rotational grazing. My hope for the community is that through this approach of handling nature, we become self-reliant, and hunger will become a thing of the past because we will be growing our own things.”
Kachana was born and bred in Livingstone, and has worked in tourism for over a decade, mostly in the security department at Green Safaris’ Tongabezi Lodge. He sees nature conservation as an essential part of tourism, as it’s a means of teaching visitors to preserve the nature they come to see. He teaches his three girls this lesson as well.
With that in mind, Kachana is also active in planting trees for conservation purposes. He has planted a big chunk of the trees at the Mukuni Organic Community Farm. He’s gathered a tremendous amount of knowledge on trees, and his favorite are the citrus trees, as they provide healthy foods to the community.
Kachana loves taking care of nature, to make sure others also take care of their surroundings. He’s noticed the effects of climate change himself: “When we were still young, we had very good rains, but now that people have been cutting down trees, nature is disturbed and rain patterns have become inconsistent.” In his current role, he is able to have a positive effect on nature, while still having a link with tourism as the chicken coop is funded by the Green Safaris Conservation Foundation.
Kachana states his dreams for the future as follows: “If all us could work together to prevent
Mukuni Farm Manager
Ben grew up near Kafue National Park, and worked for Mr Sebastian Scott where he gained a lot of experience in organic farming. His career in organic farming made a slight diversion when he started his own business as a taxi driver in 2014. In 2021, however, he got a call from his friend Ivenny, who initially just asked him to give him a hand at the Mukuni farm, but he ended up staying for a much longer time.
“What I like about organic farming, is that it’s good for the body and the mind. Look at me, I’m only eating organic food, and I still look like a young man! Haha. I could become a 110 years old eating like this!” Ben is trying to share his mindset towards organic farming, and trying to make people understand the importance and benefits of this way of taking care of the soil.
Ben hopes he can help people by supplying organic food for them to improve their health. He also wants to make people have a stronger livelihood, so that they not only rely on the income of arts and crafts in Mukuni village. To have them also able to go into farming and add an additional source of income.
Mulendema Farm Manager
Having grown up around Mumbwa, Barat has spent a lot of time in the Mulendema Chiefdom, where his family had a farm. “For me, farming is inborn,” Barat explains. As Barat had to finish school early due to financial constraints, he decided to gather more experience in farming. With farming, this mostly requires intensive training rather than academia. Barat has worked with the ZAAB, the Zambian Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity for three years, where he gathered a lot of professional experience in farming. He likes to farm ground nut and maize, as he feels these foods are a fundamental part of Zambian culture.
Barat thinks the best way to farm is without chemical fertilizers and be completely organic, which he does at his own farm at home too — this keeps the soil rich, and ensures good harvests, he says. For his community, Barat would love to see more trees being planted, and less trees being cut.