Lodie de Jager

I was born in Ladybrand in the Free State and had an adventurous youth in the mountainous Eastern Free State.

I studied at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein (majors were German and Psychology) and taught German as Third Language in the Free State.

I was based in Germany from 1991 - 1996 where I was responsible for the teachers', students' and pupils' exchange between South Africa and Germany.

On my return to South Africa I founded the FSA Youth Exchange. The first group to leave for Germany as FSA Youth Exchange was the June group in 1996.

I love the bush, hence the photograph. I try to spend as much free time as possible in the Kalahari in Botswana. The future of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, beleaguered by threats like diamond mining by De Beers, is my passion.

I am an optimist. I believe in our youth. They are like the three baby baobabs that I planted in the bush next to my house. I won't have the privilege to sit in their shade one day, but they will provide shade for others when not for me. Our youth will lead this wonderful country intelligently, even if I won't live to experience that.