MEET OUR STAFF
Ven. Ani Tsondru Co-Executive Director joined SAFCEI early in 2016. Tsondru is a nun in the Karma Kagyu Buddhist tradition. She has spent more than seven years in two consecutive closed meditation retreats in Spain. Since returning to Cape Town she has dedicated her time to being of service to SAFCEI; to helping people reconnect with wilderness through her Wilderness Within trails in the iMfolozi wilderness area; and to teaching meditation and the Work That Reconnects of Joanna Macy. Tsondru brings to the work she does her expertise as an environmental scientist and lawyer working mostly in the non-profit sphere.
Francesca de Gasparis Co-Executive Director joined SAFCEI at the beginning of 2017 to guide the organisation together with Ani Tsondru. She has spent over a decade and a half in the environmental sector, 8 years of which she spent as Director of the Europe office of the Green Belt Movement International. Her love for the wide open spaces of Southern Africa was born during her student days at University of Witwatersrand, where she was a student activist during Apartheid, and she would escape the city to find a measure of peace from the turbulence of those times. Her interest lies with sustainable development and a holistic environmental approach within NGO’s to ensure they have the support they need to deliver on their aims.
Operations Director joined SAFCEI in early 2013, as the institute’s Operations Director, having come from the role of Programme Support Manager at mothers2mothers (m2m), a Cape Town-based NGO that works to prevent vertical transmission of HIV. He was previously employed by the HIV and AIDS Institutional Coordination Unit (HAICU) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He initially held the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Officer portfolio, later focusing on the integration of HIV and AIDS into the formal curriculum of the Higher Education Institution. Previous to his involvement in higher education, he was employed as Africa Program Coordinator for a youth-focused international NGO in London, UK. Programme implementation in West and Southern Africa focused on vulnerable young people, including the war-affected, street children and working children. Sean has also engaged in consultancy work in Cape Town. He holds a BScEcon in Development Studies from Swansea University, UK, and an MPhil in HIV & AIDS and Society from UCT.
Regional Coordinator (SADC) is an Evangelical Christian. She has studied Environmental Psychology and completed a Masters researching bio-cultural diversity and conservation, researching the essence of nature and the impacts of biodiversity loss on the psychological and spiritual well-being of the amaXhosa in the Eastern Cape.
Lydia networks with faith communities across SADC with a view to broaden the community of people of faith caring for the environment. She is also a representative on the We Have Faith campaign platform (Act now for climate justice!), which aims to build an ethical presence at international climate talks. “We need to take conscious living very seriously in our everyday lives. Doing so ensures that we do not neglect our communities we live in, and it motivates us to care, love and act towards a healthy and sustainable future”.
Training & Resources supports non-formal, life-long learning and environmental activism amongst faith communities. She believes that because religious congregations are rooted in local communities, they can play a pivotal role in education for sustainable living. Kate read natural sciences at UCT where she taught for a number of years in the Zoology Department and later did postgraduate studies in environmental education at Rhodes. She spent seventeen years working in rural communities, churches and schools in the former Transkei. Here she supported sustainable agriculture projects and environmental education programmes, developed learning materials and facilitated in-service training for Transkei teachers with a particular focus on learning for sustainability and climate change. After moving to Cape Town in 2004, she was part of a small, passionate team who turned the vision of establishing a multi-faith environment organisation into a reality. She has been working with SAFCEI ever since.
Adminstration and Receptionist started working at SAFCEI in February 2015. She previously worked at a Law and Chartered Accountant Firm as a PA, Receptionist and Administrator for many years. She loves spending time with her family, camping with them or simply spending time outdoors. She enjoys meeting new people and learning new things. Portia is also a big animal lover. She is a very caring, loving person and helps wherever she can in the office or in whatever situation she finds herself. Portia has always been concerned about the environment and has her own little garden at home, teaching her children all they need to know about the environment and saving water. She feels honoured to be a staff member at SAFCEI. Portia is Catholic and attends the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, Bergvliet.
Eco-Justice Lead is an environmentalist whose research and development work has mostly focused on environmental programmes aimed at building the capacity of civil society and government, including; co-ordination of field workers, design and facilitation of workshops, material development, and the establishment of working partnerships amongst different NGO’s, as well as between civil society and government. Liziwe is famous for beginning any conversation with a cheerful “Howzit!”
Outreach & Logistics Coordinator has worked in the NGO sector for the past 13 years, particularly for the “Greenies”! She worked for the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) for 7 years where she was first introduced to Climate Change and its effects. Working for SAFCEI has established the link between faith and the environment. As a Muslim woman, she is able to teach her children about the importance of caring for the earth within the Islamic perspective. As for her work, Zainab makes sure all logistics for travels are seen to and our resources packed or posted to our networks. Above all, she keeps things lively in the office!
Bookkeeper grew up in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. She worked as a private secretary, then as a home loans consultant and administrator at Absa for 23 years. Ingrid then worked as a Bond secretary/paralegal at Grant Gunston Attorneys. She spent a few months at the Two Oceans Aquarium as a private secretary, before finally joining the SAFCEI family as the administrator and loving every minute thereof! Ingrid is happily married to Silwyn and blessed with two lovely daughters, who are the absolute joy of their lives. She thrives on family “get-togethers”, although she can equally enjoy curling up with a good book or watching movies and sports – especially cricket, rugby and tennis. Ingrid loves the outdoors – camping, walking, gardening and just enjoying the sunshine, the beauty and tranquility of nature.