Mira Macuacua, one of few female rangers in Limpopo National Park, recently embarked on an exciting journey to Sweden, where she received an award from Her Majesty, Queen Silvia through the Peace and Changemaker Generation Programme. This outstanding award is in recognition of Mira’s efforts in teaching and inspiring children around wildlife protection and take a stand against wildlife crime in their communities.

Mira was accompanied to Sweden by Nita Verhoef, Peace Parks Foundation’s Community Development Coordinator, and Godknows Nyuwani, an African Wildlife Conservation Fund representative. The trio spent a couple of days soaking in the magnificent sights that Sweden has to offer and got the chance to meet fellow inspiring changemakers who are also part of the programme. 

The Peace & Changemaker Generation Programme is a joint project with the World’s Children’s Prize Foundation and Peace Parks Foundation. This impactful initiative is helping to ensure that 100,000 children in and around Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe are educated about children’s rights and the importance of protecting their wildlife.

The programme aims to achieve this by teaching Peace & Changemaker Generation ambassadors, teachers, parents and local community leaders about topics such as climate change, wildlife crime and children’s rights, all the while helping to significantly contribute toward the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals aim to address worldwide issues such as poverty and other deprivations, climate change and environmental preservation, serving as a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.

Like many young girls living in rural communities throughout Africa, Mira certainly didn’t have an easy life growing up. At the age of three, Mira’s parents split and she was forced to move in with her father, his second wife and their children. Often left without food, Mira would have to go to the market and pick up any crumbs that she could find until her grandmother came to her rescue a few years later. Soon her father made her quit school and work in the fields, which left Mira devastated as she used to meet her mother in secret at the market on her way home. Nine months later, Mira got the devastating news that her mother had passed away, leaving her feeling hopeless and empty.

Mira managed to muster up the last of her strength and honoured her mother’s memory by running away to Mozambique’s capital, Maputo where she continued her schooling and worked some jobs on the side. One day, she saw a TV advertisement for an ecotourism training course in a national park and much to her delight, got accepted for the programme which would forever change the rest of her life. After finishing the course, she applied for ranger training in Limpopo National Park and was one of 40 out of 140 applicants left, and one out of three females who made the cut.

Despite life’s challenges that were thrown Mira’s way, she is now a well-respected group leader in Limpopo National Park, and just one of few female rangers in wildlife protection working there. 

The hardships that Mira faced have taught her perseverance and helped shape her into the remarkable woman she is today – a true inspiration for all!