There was a time in my life when I was overwhelmed with life itself and grieving for my father. At that time, I couldn’t cope or make sense of anything but the circles where we gathered and conversed made a huge difference in my life. Throughout the nature connection experience, I have learned to appreciate life as it is and not to complain about things I don’t have control of because that can make your life more difficult at some point or even shift your focus from the positive things that you should be doing.
My name is Elona Mteto, and I reside in one of the oldest townships called Vrygrond near Muizenberg. Currently, I am part of the Amava Oluntu team, however, I started at Amava Oluntu as a participant in a program called Vukuzenzele meaning “wake up and do it for yourself”. That is where I started to build my networks and meet new people with brilliant ideas that do amazing things. Through this program, we would go out in the wild to do some activities and that is where my love and interest for the journey of nature connection started. And alongside that, I interlinked it with the skill that I have obtained within the space of Macramé art.
My drive for this journey comes from seeing how people suffer from depression, anxiety, and other life challenges happening in their lives. So, I see my interest in taking people out in the wild and sharing the skill of making plant hangers as a tool that can take them away from the destruction of their lives for a bit to connect with nature and to have conversations with people who will relate to their stories, rather than talking to therapist and psychologists. And to make those circles more fun with skill sharing that can possibly lead to learning more about what nature can do to them, and come back with a different mindset and a positive way of looking at things.
This drive led me to partake in the Wild Nights Out program. This was the most incredible thing that has ever happened in my life up until now. I am still grateful for the opportunity I got last year and as the person who has an interest in pursuing the journey of connecting with nature and taking people into nature. I would really like such experiences to be ongoing events for people who might be in need or interested in such things because it is a rare thing to find in this life.
I learnt a lot from the seven days of hiking and I also found healing in that process as I was doing solo sessions and climbing mountains. From that experience, my interest in being in the wild keeps expanding. My drive for my interest also comes from empathising with people who are going through a lot; those who can find healing as they connect with nature and allow nature and the universe to do its magic more than talking to a stranger who has never faced the life challenges as they did. I want to attract public opinion by guiding people in finding healing, making peace, and leading them in the right direction.