Matema Thosago from Limpopo, South Africa inspires us to make a change.


I was born in a rural area called Motholo Village in Limpopo Province, South Africa and raised in a Christian family where God was the main source of everything. When I was growing-up there was a scripture from the Bible that has always stayed in my mind even today “I have given you the authority to take care of everything on Earth.” I didn’t know how to fulfill its meaning until 2007 when I went to the Pretoria Zoological Garden to volunteer part-time as I was completing my National Quailification in Tourism Guiding. Before I could be accepted to work I had to pass a 60 day assignment of observation and researching the habitat, behavior, and description of any 5 indigenous mammals, birds, and reptiles. As much as I wanted to express my authority of taking care of natural resources I preserved and killed two birds with one stone as part of a partner assignment. In 2008 I was then a full-time Zoo partner whereby I was guiding school kids through the zoo and teaching environmental education.

When I was guiding different schools I discovered that black kids as well as their teachers visited the zoo for fun, and not to learn. While for white kids it was totally the opposite. They challenged me with lots of questions which encouraged me to rehearse the day before they visited the Zoo. This experience made me realise that the black children from poorer communities have little knowledge about biodiversity. They would merely ask me the names of the animals. This issue disturbed me and that’s where my interest in education came about. I also realized that most teachers couldn’t  link environmental education with the curriculum, especially at a primary school level. Out of curiosity I did a little research about the issue and discovered that the problem was lack of a good foundation, and as we know CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME. I personally recall from my primary school experience that our curriculum didn’t include environmental education and that in my perspective, are dissonant towards the word ‘environment.’

As I am concerned about the future generations, in 2008-2009 my two friends (Refiloe Moraswi and Lehlogonolo Mutle) and I, started an Environmental Awareness Project where we organized community excursions during school holidays, taking kids to camp in the nature reserve/zoo. During the camp we taught environmental awareness, tour guiding and evaluated the work by issuing them with tests and practical’s. We were targeting townships children from poorer communities, whose parents were working and they were able to pay for our logistics. In the middle of 2009 I extended the project to Limpopo Province at a different level because these communites are mostly rural. I decided to go to my former primary school (Pulamadibogo) and established School Rangers.These rangers started by monitoring the food garden and sorting out litter which led to other climate activities such as cleaning campaigns and celebrating environmental days.


I managed to approach 7 high schools. These now have poultry farming,fresh and organic vegetable gardens which they are selling to their community. Food and Trees For Africa (FTFA) has made my work easy by donating seeds, trees and introducing permaculture farming method to the schools which I established student rangers. My Environmental projects expanded greatly, and so I  registered a NPO named Progress’ Nature Conservation Rangers Organization (P’NCRO). I have a sponsored office and we still hope for project funds. Organizations such Polokwane Municipality donated dustbins towards the projects and Public works donated trees sponsored by Nedbank, then we managed to give away 10 trees to each of 10 schools which lacked trees. In June 2010 I received the NPO certificate, I am now the Founder and the Director of the P’NCRO.

Due to the high unemployment and school drop out rate,  I initiated a Community Rangers project where we worked together with the leaders of  a community and now they have given us land where the youth would be farming using permaculture. Until today we are hoping for funds that will equip the organization’s projects. My work has gone from strength to strength and on the 28 February 2011 I was awareded a bursary to study Environmental Education, leadership, Conservation guardianship and Field ranging at the South African Wildlife College (SAWC) with 14 other black students from all over South Africa for 6months. With the knowledge and experience from the college and listening to other people’s attitude towards the environment inspired me to do more, so I am now working on a project involving the students from the college.  I believe we will change a lot of people’s mindset towards the Environment.