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Here I am where I belong

Here I am where I belong

Game viewing on the way to school
Game viewing on the way to school
Bettina Kelley



I first stepped foot on African soil in 1999. I flew into Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe on an adventure, knowing no-one and hardly speaking a word of English. I was picked up at the airport and transferred to Kasane, Botswana. On our trip through the Zambezi National Park we drove past giraffes and elephants; a first for me. I could not believe my eyes.

Staying in Botswana for three months, my life changed forever. I was lucky enough to experience the wonders of Chobe National Park, Savuti and Moremi. In all this beauty, surrounded by wildlife, I managed to find my roots and to reconnect with nature. I felt vastly different to what I have ever felt anywhere else in the world.

Back home in Germany, I could not get Africa out of my heart and decided in 2001 to emigrate to Botswana, leaving everything else behind. All I knew was, I was going home to where I always belonged.

In Africa I learned to remember how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one worries about are of no importance whatsoever. It was here that I found peace and quiet within me.

In the past 13 years it has not always been easy - nothing happens in a hurry in Africa - which can be rather frustrating for someone from Germany. We have power cuts, water cuts, phone cuts and a lack of medical services. The hospital where I gave birth to my two beautiful daughters is 930km away in the capital of Botswana, Gaborone. Our children’s beautiful little school, The Victoria Falls Primary School, is 90km away in Zimbabwe, which means having to cross borders and living two lives in two countries.

But even though it is a 90km drive to school there are no regrets. Getting up on Monday mornings at 4.30am to cross the Kazungula border at 6am, we are excited by what we will see on our drive. We have seen prides of lion (one time there were 25 of them in the middle of the road), wild dog, leopard, once even a cheetah, endangered ground hornbills, giraffe, elephant, impala, sable and plenty more.

No other place on this planet can compare, and it must be experienced to fully understand and appreciate all there is in this world. Each day, with the African wind blowing through my hair and the sun in my face, I feel alive and free. As Karen Blixen said: “Here I am where I belong.”