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Hi, I am Nilza de Catarina from Mozambique. I'm 24 years old and very concerned with the state of our ocean. I joined MMF for one year, as part of their Marine Science and Conservation Fellowship Program. The vision and the way that the organization carries out their conservation efforts – by creating true connections with the community – caught my attention.

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This is Nilza, when she joined MMF as part of our Fellowship Program, she was unable to swim – now she is a qualified diver and studying Marine Biology and Conservation

I was not able to swim when I joined the team, just like many children in Mozambique, my parents couldn’t afford swimming classes. I had swimming lessons with MMF, and while I was learning, I was able to interact with the community and tourists to share information about the megafauna in our precious Tofo area.

I got my diving certificate, and afterwards I was ready to collect some whale shark and manta ray data, and MMF helped me get some specific goggles for my eyes. Able to swim and see, I started my data collection training. I was honoured by two manta rays parading beautifully right before my eyes! I cried! I wanted to cherish them. It was an overwhelming feeling. I knew then that I wanted to dedicate my life to helping these majestic animals.

And then the time came, I had finished the open water course. It was magic. I was thunderstruck to be out of gravity, to breathe underwater. I had achieved a life goal that I never thought I could.

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Nilza enjoying learning how to dive in Tofo, Mozambique, and undertaking research as part of our Fellowship Program

Thanks to the curriculum that MMF helped me build upon during my time in Tofo, I was awarded a scholarship in Marine Biology and Conservation in Italy!

I have no words to tell you what MMF means to me. It was a privilege be embraced by renowned scientists and professionals in all kinds of ways. They helped me to blossom, and for that I will be forever grateful.

I’ll be right back team.

Nilza de Catarina

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Nilza with our MMF team on the ground in Tofo, Mozambique – we'll miss you Nilza!

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