IN one of the lines of his hit song Strength of a Woman, Jamaican-born American reggae star, Shaggy wonders if God is a woman. He must have been amazed by the great things that women do.
In the 2002 release, Shaggy ‘warns’ the world to never underestimate the strength of women. The same can be said of women making their mark across an array of industries. One of such areas is the tourism sector where some of the renowned tour operating firms have employed men as tour guides.
Meet Mishi Dustan, a female tour guide who has crafted a niche in the business of tour operation. While growing up in her village, Mishi developed and harbored a passion for wildlife. “Seeing wild animals and the wilderness while in the village really inspired me that I yearned to one day be working in the wild,” recalls the mother of one.
The path to working in the conservation sector would however take a different direction as Mishi would take up a completely different job after she pursued a course in accountancy at the famous Institute of Accountancy in Arusha (IAA).
Armed with her certificates and other credentials, she hit the road, popping by one office to the other, hoping to land her self a job. “After numerous unsuccessful attempts I found myself working for a marketing and events firm that also published tourism related journals based in the region,” she explains.
During her spell with the marketing firm, Mishi spent much of her time writing conservation articles in the firm’s journal. She did this because she still harbored the desire of one day working in the tourism industry.
Mishi had to however part ways with the marketing firm after she got a job as an accountant at Singita Grumeti Sasakwa Lodge. “This is where it all began and because I was computer savvy and proficient in the English language, I got what I was yearning for.”
While working with Singita Grumeti, Mishi would start keying data of different animals found in the area, while also becoming an English language interpreter for the firm’s officials. As she puts it, Mishi used her time sparingly as on her free time, she would take trouble to study more about wild animals and their behaviors.
Her passion for wildlife and tourism didn’t go unnoticed by her seniors at Singita Grumeti. Then one day, while going about her daily chores she came across vacancy advert on one of the offices. The firm was looking tour guides.
“This is what I was waiting for and couldn’t give it a second thought upon seeing the advert,” Mishi recalls. Mishi didn’t consider her short listing as mere luck. “I knew I had all that it takes to become a tour guide that is why I wasn’t surprised when I was called up for the job.”
From the desktop computer where she was assigned to while working as an accountant, Mishi now had a top of the range safari vehicle to chauffeur tourists around. “Gauging from my life, it is fair to say that patience pays and that it was just worth the wait,” she says.
Donned in her khaki safari regalia, Mishi is now the awe of many tourists that visit Singita Grumeti every day. According to her, the tourists and other people are left baffled by the prowess she exhibits on the field.
This is probably because many people cannot relate to this as being a job that a woman would typically handle. Mishi has now mastered the craft of being a tour guide regardless of the circumstances.
“Part of my job is to ensure that the safety of the tourists is my number one priority especially knowing that wild animals are always on the prowl,” she explains. As a tour guide, Mishi discloses to have hosted different visitors with different calibers and of different temperaments.
What has kept Mishi grounded and motivated is perseverance and the passion she has towards what she’s doing for a living. “As a tour guide, you are bound to meet different characters…I’ve hosted famous actors and other prominent celebrities, and my duty is to ensure that the visitor’s thirst is quenched no matter the environment,” she opines.
“That has never been a problem with me because I enjoy what I do, this is how I earn my living,” says the Singita Grumeti tour guide. Singita Grumeti is comprised of four permanent properties and one mobile camp – Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Singita Sabora Tented Camp, Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Singita Serengeti House and Singita Explore – all set within 350,000 acres of land adjoining the expansive Serengeti National Park.