Kent Redding: Adventuring and Contributing in Tanzania
Kent Redding and his company, Africa Adventure Consultants, have been a loyal friend and generous supporter to AfricAid for over ten years. Their approach has been unique and multi-faceted: from donations of cash and safari trips, to sponsoring Kisa Scholars, to volunteering their time. When AfricAid supporters book an “insight trip” through Africa Adventure Consultants, 10% of the cost is donated back to the organization. In fact, the company makes a donation to a worthy cause in Africa for every client who travels with them.
After living and working in Africa for years, Kent and his wife Kelly McElroy, opened their Denver based company to help adventurous travelers discover the wonders of this spectacular continent. Their insight into the cultures of Africa, as well as the special environmental and business issues there, place them at the top of any list of US based safari outfitters. They have been featured in publications from “National Geographic Traveler” to “Outside Magazine” and were recognized by “Travel + Leisure” in 2016 and 2017 as one of the “World’s Best Safari Outfitters.”
In his 18 years of experience as an expert on Africa travel and adventure, Kent has guided trips through the continent’s premier parks and studied with knowledgeable naturalists. He has summitted Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru, kayaked in Lake Malawi, dune-bashed in Namibia’s Skeleton Coast and rafted down the Zambezi River below Victoria Falls. He has explored Botswana’s Okavango Delta, trekked through some of Egypt’s vast deserts, mountain biked through African mountains and bush land, and tracked gorillas and chimpanzees in multiple countries.
Kent served on the AfricAid Board from 2010 to 2016, which was a critical period of expansion for the organization.
Kent has been an amazing long-time friend and supporter of AfricAid, providing guidance and encouragement along the way, particularly with the launch of AfricAid’s Kisa Project, almost 8 years ago. In those early years, Kent brought unparalleled knowledge, wisdom and experience that came from his many years of living and working in Tanzania and East Africa, all of which was so instrumental in the growth that AfricAid underwent during his time leading the Board. I am grateful to Kent for his generous support, for his dedication and commitment to our mission, and for the impact he has helped make in the lives of the girls we support in Tanzania. – Nina Shuyler
At the 2018 Art & Soul event, we are proud to honor Kent’s dedication to improving the lives of Tanzanian people, particularly women and girls, and thank him for making the world a more connected place by bringing so many people to Africa. When you read Kent’s words, you will quickly see that not only does he think it is a wonderful place, he believes the people are beautiful and filled with potential.
How many times have you traveled to Tanzania and what was your experience like?
Our first visit to Africa for a big game safari was to Tanzania in 1997. My wife Kelly and I wanted an African adventure and we got one! We loved our experience so much that we decided to move there. We lived in Arusha, Tanzania for years and have been back to the country so many times, I can’t count them all. We find Tanzanians to be some of the warmest, funniest and most hospitable people in the world.
Why did you start Africa Adventure Consultants?
We started Africa Adventure Consultants in 2001, the same year AfricAid was founded, so I feel in some ways we’ve been on parallel paths. We created the company to help build bridges between Africa and the West and to get more Americans to experience first-hand the wonderful people, wildlife and scenery of Africa, and to create more jobs for the people of Africa. For every three people that visit Tanzania, one job is created for a Tanzanian person.
What are some of your most memorable moments in Tanzania?
I have many fond memories of our time in Tanzania, including wildlife adventures like lions roaring so loud it shook our tent, ornery monkeys stealing our lunch boxes, and being chased by angry elephants. But many of my funniest memories involve mishaps and misunderstanding: On our first safari we were SO naïve. We couldn’t read the map we had and thought maybe we had to turn it upside down since we were south of the equator!
When did you learn about AfricAid?
I first learned of AfricAid when I met Nina Shuyler at an APTA meeting. The Association for the Promotion of Tourism to Africa is a trade group that connects buyers and sellers in the African travel and hospitality industry. At that time, AfricAid was involved with scholarships for a few girls at a Maasai girls school. As you know, its scope and scale has expanded a lot since then.
What motivated you to partner with AfricAid? Why do you continue to support the organization?
At Africa Adventure Consultants, we believe that we are all citizens of the world, and we should try to help each other, especially those who have the greatest need, like the people, wildlife and ecosystems of Africa. With regard to AfricAid specifically, we were inspired!
What first inspired us was the founding family, the Shuylers and then later, the stories of the girls…their humor, grace, and strength in the face of great challenges. What continues to inspire us is knowing that Kisa graduates are back in their villages or otherwise out in the world building on what they learned in the program and paying it forward. Finally, we’re inspired by watching the incredible growth in the Kisa program along with expansion projects like Binti Shupavu, which targets younger girls during their early teens when they are most vulnerable to societal and family pressures to drop out of school.
We continue to donate because it is rewarding to help AfricAid grow in order to serve more girls and widen its impact. With proper funding, the AfricAid model could be replicated in countless communities in Tanzania, Africa and other continents, too.
What excites you about AfricAid and the difference we are making in Tanzania?
AfricAid is different than a lot of other non-profits working in Africa in that it focuses on providing important life skills to teenage girls. The two programs, the Kisa Project and Binti Shupavu help them navigate through tricky times, when there’s generally little opportunity or support for them to continue their education and there’s lots of pressure to do things like get married, have babies and work the fields. Tanzanian women and girls really don’t have a voice or the same kind of rights that they do in other countries like here. AfricAid gives these girls a voice and we believe that Tanzania will really benefit from their voices being heard.
Why should other people care about the work that AfricAid is doing?
We believe it’s important to invest in girls’ education and empowerment because it’s the right thing to do, for the girls and for Tanzanian society. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world with severe challenges in the areas of population, infrastructure, education and many others. Poverty disproportionately affects women and girls. The country needs the women to step up and help solve these problems and AfricAid is creating the next generation of confident leaders. Here in the US, we know the benefits of having educated citizens. It makes sense, then, to invest in a continent with a billion people whose collective intellectual offerings are relatively untapped.
How can we get more people to care about girls who have so little, who live half way around the world, and who will never likely come into contact with us or impact our lives? We think the simplest answer is that we are all, in a way, family – sisters and brothers in the global society, and we have a duty to help each other. And, if you ever have any doubt these girls deserve your support, please go and visit and meet them. You’ll have the best experience of your life and you’ll come away inspired to give.