Pathfinder winner Monica Kamal was one of two Pathfinder Award winners for 2016. Monica, an outdoors person with a high level spinal cord injury is constantly working with others with physical disabilities, both hunters and non-hunters, to help them with access to the outdoors. Monica is a member of numerous conservation organizations and is a Wisconsin certified hunter education instructor who mentors youth hunts.
Having won the SCI Foundation Pathfinder Award, she was selected to go with Jan Oelofse Hunting Safaris in Namibia that donates a 10-day hunt for 10 animals every year to the recipient of the SCI Foundation Pathfinder program.
Monica, accompanied by her husband Steve, arrived in Namibia in September. “What a life changing experience! We are still overwhelmed with the kindness of the staff, our guide, Rudie, and the Oelefse family. They shared their home and we were submersed in Mt. Etjo’s beautiful and exotic wildlife and habitat. It is heaven on earth!” describe both Monica and Steve.
Monica’s safari wasn’t just about taking trophies; it was also about giving back. She had organized her trip around bringing four SCI Foundation Bell Family Blue Bags full of humanitarian aid and donations to a school. During her preplanning stage, Monica and Steve informed their family, friends, colleagues and the organizations of which they are members about the students’ and school’s needs. Besides their own personal contributions and others including SCIF, the SCI Badgerland Chapter and Madison SCI provided money and essentials to aid school children.
Monica arrived at the Mt. Etjo school with the bags bulging with items, plus a little extra. Monica and Steve were able to provide close to 100 books, school supplies, 20 soccer balls, jerseys and socks for everyone, scarves, caps and much more for the first- through sixth-grade students. Because Monica was able to get so many books, she decided to give each child a book to take home. That was new. Kids hadn’t been able to take the precious books home for their own personal use. The school couldn’t afford for them to be lost or not returned, but in Monica’s case, she brought so many books that each child got one of their own. Monica said, “You should have seen how excited the kids were to take home a book! We wish we had more for them.”
Monica and Steve had two more special gifts for the school–a monetary donation to the scholarship fund and a large color TV. They bought a TV to connect to the school’s computer for the kids to learn more, including about technology. “Delivering aid to the school in Namibia and working with the kids was phenomenal,” said Monica. “We were able to share so much and it was wonderful to see the deep appreciation on the students’ faces.”
Monica believes in giving back. She started a Facebook project between the children of Mt. Etjo’s school and the second-grade students at Sandberg Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin. The kids get to share posts and happenings from different sides of the globe. Monica is working with the kids to write letters back and forth. Steve and Monica took letters to Mt. Etjo and are returning letters from Mt. Etjo to Sandberg Elementary to assist in fostering a sister school relationship.
Monica wants to thank all those who helped with the trip with special thanks to SCI Foundation Humanitarian Services Committee, Jan Oelofse Hunting Safaris, Flora and Fauna Brokerage House, Safari Cargo Systems and Life Form Taxidermy. All were so professional and helpful in assisting with her hunting and handling of trophies.