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Meet Peter and Cecilia Durkin
I was born and raised in New Jersey. An outdoorsman from early on, I began fishing at age three and started bouncing toy arrows off of rabbits at age five--I'd always dreamed of Africa. But it wasn't until Gene Hill, noted outdoor writer, gave me "The Tree Where Man Was Born", by Peter Matthiessen that I decided I was going there no matter what. As graduation from Villanova University approached, I went to the nearest Peace Corps office and signed up. Luck was with me and I ended up heading for Botswana. I worked as a Drought Relief Technical Officer and was stationed in the far flung outpost of Ghanzi, Botswana, smack dab in the middle of the Kalahari, and a grueling 22 hour drive over a deep sand road from the capital.
Just prior to leaving for Botswana, I'd meet a beautiful young woman, Cecilia. Not long after my return, I asked her to marry me. Cecilia was born in the Philippines but moved to the US as a young girl and grew up in New York. From an early age she aspired to be writer, which she became.
Oh, she said "yes" by the way.
Over the next twenty years we both did many things with our lives. Most of the time I worked as a civil engineer, but always had a problem with being one. As a result, I had many extra-curricular activities. I co-authored, "Hit the Trail: A Kid's Camping Kit" with my very talented wife (she edited that, but it happens to be true!) and wrote articles for Scholastic science and math educational magazines, where Cecilia worked for a time. I also worked as a professional falconer at JFK Airport, flying falcons to reduce bird strikes and presented environmental education talks to schools, Boy Scout troops, and community groups using birds of prey. I also fly fished and hunted whenever I could.
Cecilia worked in publishing and has written hundreds of magazine articles and a number of books. She also worked for New York City Parks and Recreation Department developing an environmental educational program. The program won an award from the mayor's office as the best educational program in New York City that year.
And over time were blessed with two beautiful children, Macallan, now age 15 and Markham, age 11.
In 2003, the chance for me to leave engineering permanently presented itself when on Findajobinafrica.com I found a job posting for manager of Mokolodi Nature Reserve. We applied as a management couple, and much to our surprise, were accepted. So we sold our house and everything in it and flew to Botswana with 13 boxes.
Our time at Mokolodi was wonderful. We had the opportunity to host a private gathering for Princess Anne and the very next day, a visit from President Bush and his senior advisors, had cocktails with Botswana's President Mogae at our fund raising ball, and shared a bowl of traditional beer with the labor crew. All unforgettable experiences.
Unfortunately we came to realize that the Reserve was not what we thought it was. Making the decision to leave our thatched roofed cottage with rhinos grazing on the lawn, warthog rooting in the garden, and spitting cobras raiding the hen house, was a difficult one, but one Cecilia and I still believe was the right thing to do.
We moved into a nice neighborhood in Gaborone and started our own business. Broad Daylight (Pty) Ltd. which was based on tourism, conservation, and community development. In addition to Cecilia's writing of magazine articles on travel, we marketed and advised on eco-tourism ventures, mostly as part of Botswana's community based natural resource management (CBNRM) initiative. While working on a story about Gantsi Craft, Cecilia went to a Bushman settlement and had a life changing experience plus an offer to consult with the non-profit organisation. She can tell you more about that at her website Womensworkbw.com, all resulting in our moving to Ghanzi. While Cecilia worked at Gantsi Craft, I helped on several CBNRM projects, namely Dqće Qare and Nqwaa Khobee Xeya Trust in KD1. And we worked with Y Care Charitable Trust where we developed, marketed, and oversaw the execution of two sponsored walks. The first walk covered 180 miles across the remote Makgadikgadi salt pans and the second along the Okavango River and on to Tsodilo Hills.
came to realize, we couldn't really help draw attention to Botswana, particularly,
the needs of her people while living there, so we moved back to New York
where we started African Excursions and Women's
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