Anth and Karen give a damn

by admin on November 29, 2009


I had the good fortune to meet Anth while living in London back in 2003. It’s been a few years since I last saw him, but we have remained in contact. Last week, I found this in my inbox:
“If one was interested in giving a damn, and one’s wife was agreeable to the idea, would there still be an opportunity to join the team in December/January?”
I immediately replied, and am really pleased to report that Anth and his wonderful wife, Karen, have made all the necessary arrangements and will be flying into South Africa to spend two weeks working with us out at Zithulele.

I asked them the standard questions, so we can all learn a little more about them:

What do you normally spend your time doing?
Anth: I’m an IT guy, although I spend most of my time planning or training for my next sporting pursuit.

Karen: I work pretty long hours in a Finance role and have also recently been doing a lot of business travel throughout Asia which has been both wonderful and exhausting! In my spare time I enjoy running, going to the gym, trying new foods and just relaxing with my husband.

Where do you live?
Anth: In sunny Singapore. 35 degrees and 90% humidity on average every day. It’s resort-style living without the pool bar.

Karen: Tropical Singapore, in a lovely spot on the river.

Where else have you lived?
Anth: Mainly in Sydney, Australia, but with a brief spell in London.

Karen: Until moving to Singapore in July this year, I have only lived in Sydney. However, I have travelled to 22 countries throughout Asia, Europe and North America.

Have you built a house before?
Anth: Only with lego. Growing up I did spend more than the odd weekend being roped into some DIY project around the house but I can’t pretend that any of the work ever sunk in or stuck to me. Except for lawn mowing. If the building needs a neat and tidy lawn, them I’m your man.

Karen: Afraid not, closest has been some very minor renovations to our apartment!

Have you visited South Africa before?
Anth: Nope this will be the first time. I’ve heard great things about it.

Karen: This will be my first trip to Africa.

What interested you about the project?
Anth: I have wanted to get involved in a project like this for a while but have struggled to find something which inspired me. This project, the people involved, and most importantly, the people that it is aimed at helping, all inspire me.

Karen: A chance to experience something different and spend my Christmas / New Year holiday doing something productive

What expectations do you have about the project?
Anth: I am expecting to realise that the impressions that I have formed about Zithulele and the work that the doctors do in Zithulele are not even remotely appropriate or appreciative enough.

What do you think you bring to the team?
Anth: A constant stream of really bad puns and an ability to drink fizzy drink faster than anyone else around. More importantly though, truckloads of physical endurance and a steely determination (aka stubborness) to do whatever is required to get the job done. If we need to sand/paint/drill/carry stuff all night in order to meet a deadline, I’ll do my best to ensure we meet it as a team.

Karen: I have an analytical mind so hopefully I can apply that to the project. I will be increasing my weights workouts at the gym in the coming weeks to ensure I will have the strength and stamina to do what I expect may be repetitive physical tasks. I have no spatial ability so am glad to see the basic plans for the building have already been drawn up!

What challenges do you think we might face?
Anth: Apart from the weather, I think the biggest challenge that we will face is having a team comprised of people with lots of determination but not so many DIY skills. So while we will be the keenest, meanest, and most determined bunch of hombres you’re likely to meet, we might also find ourselves measuring twice, cutting once, cutting once again, getting a new piece of wood…. I’m sure that none of the challenges that we’ll face will be small-fry compared to the challenges that the good doctors face on a daily basis.

Karen: Heat, fatigue, having limited time and resources

Do you have any other plans for your visit to South Africa?
Anth: Just catching up with good friends and also to try an ostrich omelette. And knocking back a Castle or two on NYE.

Karen: Hoping to visit a game park and just experience some of the local culture

What are you most excited about?
Anth: Meeting and working alongside some fantastic people, and going to bed at the end of the day tired but feeling like I have achieved something that is tangible and might help make a difference, however small, to this world.

Karen: Meeting new people, seeing a new country and hopefully making a contribution I can be proud of

Anything else you want to say?
Anth: I’m super excited and am really looking forward to my time in SA and to meeting a bunch of fantastic people.

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