By Clarissa Hughes – Group Positive Impact Co-ordinator
Tony is slight. At 35 years old he weighs 48 kilograms. But make no mistake, his diminutive size is no match for his heart.
Orphaned at 11 years old, Tony was always self-reliant and knew that if he was to make a success of his life, it was up to him. As a child he dreamed of living among wildlife.
After obtaining an O Level high school education, Tony became a waiter in a safari camp.
“He showed so much enthusiasm to become a guide, that we started him on small bird walks,” says Pietro Luraschi, Asilia’s Head Guide. “He then moved onto doing bird watching trips on a boat.”
Determined to get to the top of his chosen field, Tony got his driver’s licence to enable him to take the next step. He embarked on Asilia’s Trainee Guide Programme, during which time he did various training courses such as photography and walking. He excelled in all.
In the meantime, he honed his skills by doing vehicle transfers for the company.
“Because he’s small, he initially struggled with the big caliber rifle. He also had the extra burden of being right handed and left eyed, which is unusual and difficult for rifle shooting. But what really stood out about Tony is that when he fired he never flinched. He was never scared of the rifle,” says Pietro.
Tony persevered, spending 100 hours as back up walking guide, until he passed his advanced rifle handling course and walking guide assessment. After three years of focus and diligence Tony became a fully-fledged walking guide.
He has now been walking guests himself for two years.
“Tony is a great asset. He’s strong and has worked his way up to become Kwihala Camp’s Head Guide,” says Pietro.
So what does Tony think about his journey?
“My childhood dream has come true,” Tony says. “I learn new things every day and I live a peaceful life in the bush. I am happy.”