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Stew Fundraises for Female Empowerment in the Serengeti

18 August 2022By Laura Shaughnessy
Serengeti Girls Run
Courtesy of Tayla Smith

Written by

Laura Shaughnessy

Laura Shaughnessy has been the managing editor at Dockwalk since February 2018. Having grown up among the cornfields, she is ecstatic to be among the boats in the yachting capital of the world. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in journalism, 15 years of experience with newspapers, magazines, and the online world, Laura has joined a great crew. When not writing about superyacht crew, she’s hanging out with her husband and their German Shepherd. Email Laura at laura@dockwalk.com.

From October 31 to November 5, the Serengeti Girls Run will take place in Tanzania to help raise money for female empowerment programs in the Grumeti region. It’s run by the nonprofit organization, Grumeti Fund, a wildlife conservation and community development that works in the western corridor of the Serengeti ecosystem. This three-day, 63-kilometer run takes place across the grasslands of Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains.

Smith has gone through some pretty serious health issues, such as an eating disorder, over-exercising, and stress, all of which led to losing her menstrual cycle — several times.

“[The Grumeti Fund's] vision is a world in which people and wildlife live together sustainably, forever — a cause we’re dedicated to supporting long after this event,” says Second Stewardess Tayla Smith, one of the two women who have raised $19,464 of their $30,000 target.

She and Amy Attenborough are partnering up to raise money to achieve the following:

  • Fund scholarships for 80 local girls in secondary school, vocational studies, and university
  • Empowerment events for 5,000 high school girls
  • One year’s worth of reusable sanitary pads for 5,000 high school girls.
  • Mentorship programs
  • Life skills training

Beyond donating to the fund, people can get involved by coming to Africa on safari. “By visiting these areas, you support the economy of wildlife as well as your own wellbeing. The yachting industry is an intense and exhausting one and we believe that there’s no better way to rejuvenate than on an intentional safari that does good for all involved,” says Smith.

Donate at gofundme.com/f/Serengeti-Girls-Run.

(Left) Tayla Smith and (Right) Amy Attenborough

How a Walking Safari Saved Smith’s Life

Smith has gone through some pretty serious health issues, such as an eating disorder, over-exercising, and stress, all of which led to losing her menstrual cycle — several times. “I never really thought about the importance of a woman’s menstrual cycle until I lost it for the third time and experienced chronic gut issues. The impact of stress that I experienced on my body after moving boats, heartache, and working a busy charter program is what lead me to take four months off and go back home to rest and restore my body,” says Smith.

“Amy and I work together in curating tailored wildlife retreats that allow one to truly come back to themselves whilst creating the most unforgettable experiences along the way,” Smith says.

Once home, she went on a walking safari with Attenborough, which helped her get back on track physically and mentally. “This was where I realized that I wanted to help other women in yachting as I have come across so many other women and young girls who have been in my situation but just think that its ‘normal,’” she says, emphasizing that it is anything but healthy or normal.

Smith is studying nutrition and menopause and is earning a coaching qualification as a menstrual health educator so she can teach and support other women about the importance of their menstrual cycles and wellbeing.

Women’s Empowerment Through Safari

The pair met in 2018 while working at Londolozi, a leading safari lodge in South Africa, where they spent countless hours running in the bush together. “We found this to be our favorite way of reconnecting with ourselves and one another. And both being passionate about women’s empowerment, we couldn’t think of a better cause to support,” says Smith, adding that it was during that time that she fell in love with running. “After overcoming my own health issues, I realized that I wanted to impact the lives of other women and take part in the Serengeti Girls Run so that I could share this passion with the world.”

“This was where I realized that I wanted to help other women in yachting as I have come across so many other women and young girls who have been in my situation but just think that its ‘normal,’” says Smith.

Attenborough, who has worked in the safari industry for 14 years, has her own safari company called Wild Again, which offers women’s empowerment. “We believe that strong, supported women help to build strong families and strong communities. And those that remain connected to nature impact the world for the better, which is why this run lies so close to my heart,” she says.

To prepare for the race, Attenborough has been training on the dirt roads amongst the giraffe and zebra. “I privately guide safaris around Africa so it has been tough to find the time and space to train when I’m traveling with guests, but during those trips I rely on skipping and strength exercises to keep my fitness up,” she says.

(Left) Tayla Smith and (Right) Amy Atteborough

The Healing Power of Nature

“I would really love for more women in yachting to better understand how they can support their cycles so that they can be the healthiest, happiest versions of themselves. It’s so easy to blame the industry and everything around you, I did this,” says Smith. “It was only once I took a step back and made the commitment to educate myself on the importance of taking care of my mental and physical health that I have begun to heal.”

She further reiterates the need to explore options to rejuvenate, reboot, and reset. “After a busy season, so many of us are constantly looking for ways to fill our souls and hit the reset button. I always find that coming back to nature is always my favorite way to completely recharge. I am a firm believer and advocate in putting your health first,” says Smith.

"And those that remain connected to nature impact the world for the better, which is why this run lies so close to my heart,” Attenborough says.

For the pair, spending time in nature has given them the chance to be still for a change. “Amy and I work together in curating tailored wildlife retreats that allow one to truly come back to themselves whilst creating the most unforgettable experiences along the way,” Smith says.

Their retreats consist of silent walks in nature, camping out under the stars on a riverbank and falling asleep to the sounds of the wildlife around you, as well as luxury safaris, spending time with gorillas in the wild, doing yoga beneath a canopy of trees while elephants walk by, and more.

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