Diva Paula
courtesy of Ana Paula Machado Mendes dos Reis

That Thing That She Does: Forestry Champ

“As a teenager, Ana Paula Machado Mendes dos Reis was a basketball star, touring Europe on various African teams. That same drive that made her a champ on the courts powers her through work and life today. She heads the Provincial Forestry Department in the central Mozambican city of Chimoio, working closely with rural communities to help educate people about ways to make a living without exhausting the country’s natural resources.

“She has helped develop a program to teach women bee keeping — normally a man’s occupation — with the goal of exporting honey. She has worked on a similar program involving the gathering and export of wild mushrooms. In the majestic and deeply spiritual Chimanimani Mountains, Ana Paula has helped create a camp that will one day be the site of responsible eco-tourism, with opportunities for bird watching, hiking, camping, and wild animal observation. With support from the Ford Foundation, Ana Paula often travels to other countries that are facing similar challenges with natural resources, such as Brazil, to share her knowledge. She also is also highly conscious of the problems of AIDS in Africa. On her own, she raises money to pay for medications that go directly to specific individuals with HIV or AIDS.

“Ana Paula is a deeply spiritual person. She is one of the new breed of young Mozambicans determined to use their education to help their country become a better place, economically and socially.”
Anne Rutledge, documentary filmmaker and friend

In Her Own Words

What’s Next? “In the future I would like to finish my studies and earn a PHD in environmental science, policy and management. I’d also like to live on a big farm in the bush doing my job near to nature, having a lot of horses, and a baby girl to complete the two boys that I already have.”

How She Shakes Off A Bad Day: “When something bad happens to me I just accept and think that always if something happen, there is a reason and some bad things sometimes happen for the good things. God knows what he is doing and many times he send messages to us and we don’t know how to interpret them.”

Favorite Way to Travel: “By a big 40-ton truck.”

Ana Paula Machado Mendes dos Reis

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Manica Province, Mozambique

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