I was born on 27 september 1967 in Shimba Hills (south of Mombasa) where my dad was working as a schoolteacher, and had settled after being transfered from Malindi. I come from a family of 7 (5 brothers and 2 sisters) and went to school in Shimba Hills and later joined Kenyatta High School in Taita (about 200kms inland) for my secondary school, then later to Kilifi (just south of Watamu) for my Advanced Level education.
Tsofa Mweni – Env Ed officer for A Rocha Kenya – often introduces himself as “Tsofa, so good” or “Tsofa as in sofa set”..
All through my school days, I was a member of the Wildlife Clubs Kenya (WCK) group and participated in many school organised events, both at local and national level. e.g. essay competitions, and also I was very keen on drama. I participated in many WCK drama fetes.
I then went to train for a Diploma in Education at Kisii College (1992) so as to become a secondary school teacher. In college, I was elected the College Clubs Coordinator-and was responsible for planning all college club itineraries and liaising with the college admin. I was also the Chair for the Environmental Club, and an avid member of the Drama club. I emerged winner of the national Drama competition in dramatised poem in 1992.
When I completed my training I was posted to Voi, Taita, and later transfered to Kakuyuni Secondary School, near Malindi. In my days at Kakuyuni, I was a very active Wildlife Club patron, and chaired the Malindi WCK patrons Action Group. My school, Kakuyuni is located right next to Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and thus we had a lot of interaction with the forest.
It was during the school WCK meetings that I was informed of the job advertisement at the ASF Management and Conservation Project (funded by Birdlife International) for the post of Conservation Education Officer. I was encouraged by many to apply for the position, a 3 year contract
job; this meant forgoing a government permanent job with it’s securities which was a risk, but I thought of it as a challenge then, and due to my interest in conservation from even the past… I decided to go for it, and believed the God will show me the way. And that is how I got fully involved in conservation work.
The 3 years (1999-2001) in ASF was a great eye-opener for me. I learned a lot from the many people whom I interacted with at the forest. I also used my teacher training to develop better teaching and awareness raising strategies that helped improve the undestanding of the forest to the local people and more so among the school children and teachers.
Tsofa teaching WCK students how to make a tree nursery
At the end of the 3 years, I joined the newly established A Rocha Kenya and I thank God for guiding me through. I have enjoyed working for ARK, I have enjoyed seeing it grow, and I have grown along with it. My work experience has grown, and my faith in the Lord has grown too… and God be praised for that.
Tsofa helping a student release a bird after it has been ringed
Tsofa (on right) and Willy (Forest Guide) demonstrating how to ring and measure a bird