A landmark Women in Tourism Indaba was held last week in Windhoek, where a number of stand out women involved in the tourism sector were highlighted. With this series we tell each of their stories.
Lena Florry: Regional Manager, Wilderness Safaris in her own words
When Namibia gained Independence in 1990, I was a bare foot goat herder in the country’s dry northern savannah. My job, unpaid and dangerous, was to protect my parents’ livestock from preying jackals and leopards. While I was herding my parent’s goats for 3 years after school, I constantly dreamt about a job for the future.
I was always sharing this dream with my friends and family members, and whenever I saw a shooting star at night I wished for this dream to come true.
In Torra Conservancy we formed the very first joint venture in Namibia between a safari company and local villagers. That was Damaraland Camp.
When I joined Wilderness Safaris 16 years ago, it was the first job in my life, and from day one I decided I want to be a part of the Wilderness Safari family.
I was full of energy, passionate, and I was constantly excited about my job. Wilderness Safaris trained me from being goat herder to waitress, from waitress to assistant manager, then manager of Damaraland Camp – a post I held for 11 years.
I was the first black Namibian to be appointed manager of a guest lodge after independence. I won the HAN personality Award in 2003. I worked and studied in America for 3 years.
Currently I am the regional manager, representing 4 joint venture lodges in the north-‐west of Namibia.
My job is to provide a crucial link between Wilderness Safaris and the communities, who are the joint venture partners in Damaraland Camp, Damaraland Adventure Camp, Doro Nawas Lodge and Desert Rhino Camp.
I initiate local projects, host journalists and agents, and always attend our community meetings. I always take great pride in informing the communities about lodge operations, and how they can actively participate as stakeholders in the camps.
The joint venture between Wilderness Safaris and the local community is a success story. We are a group of happy people working together; we have the right people in the right positions, we are the landlords and are proud to manage our own conservancy lodges. The conservancies have become role models for reducing poverty and protecting wildlife in Namibia.
I have a very strong desire to succeed in life. I never think of failure. I lead and train, exchange knowledge, and build up successful teams. I listen to other people’s views and respect everyone from the youngest to the eldest, and even when difficult moments arise in my job my smile still remains the same.
Women in Tourism – Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah
Women in Tourism – Melba Tjahere
Women in Tourism – Landine Guim
Women in Tourism – Glenda Manthe-Grobler
So, SO impressive! Enjoyed reading your story and wish you great success with your ventures and a long, happy life. I lived in Namibia as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2008 & 9, so I could really envision and appreciate everything.