This is me. I am a community relations field officer at heart, I thrive and come alive when I’m at an exploration or mine or mine construction site. All my senses are heightened when I’m in the communities, invited into humble homes, sharing tea and stories around a charcoal fire. Listening to hopes and dreams that men and women have for their children, hopes and dreams that have potential for realization now that a mine is in development in their communities. My eyes slowly become accustomed to the dark room and thin beams of sunlight pushing through the slats in the walls. I settle into the seat graciously offered to me. And then the story begins. I listen. I share. And I listen some more.
Then, back to camp, notebook tucked into backpack, to begin collaborating with site management on how to maximize the return on our social investment of this mining project. Shall we develop local training programmes so that we can employ these children one day? Perhaps we should first implement a malaria programme, donate mosquito nets throughout the community to reduce malaria quickly so that our communities will be appreciative and supportive, and our local workers will be healthier and therefore experience less sick days? Or perhaps partner with a bank to develop a microcredit program and help grow the local economy, thereby supporting a foundation for future regional development when the mine starts operating?
And now, through my consulting practice, I take all those experiences and stories and harness the power of those hopes and dreams to work from within the company. I develop policy and programing, design management systems, audit a site’s social, environmental and health and safety performance, and provide guidance on addressing gaps or improving adequacy and effectiveness.
I approach my work from an informed perspective. Informed by site priorities, by community needs and wants (two very different things), and by corporate operations. I am an engineer with a passion for stories, and this is how I will approach the SDC Blog. I will bring an industry perspective that only a bi-lingual professional in mining and sustainable development can bring to the conversation. Welcome to SDC.
My passion and value for field work started here, in southern Madagascar in 2004. This is also where my drive for sustainability and mining was cemented. This photo was taken in Mandromodromotra Village. I had just completed the last focus group of my master’s field research. Our discussion focussed on how women were managing their traditional work with their new jobs at the Qit Madagascar Minerals mine. Children always came to the meetings with their moms or dads, and sometimes without just out of curiosity. The man sitting in the door is Monsieur le Chef Quartier, village leader, a kind and progressive man. Can you tell which one is me?