Allan had departed for Austria just days before to present a paper at the World Wood Day Conference. Before he left, he bought enough food for the workers through April and stashed it in a container just in the event the Hurricane was bad. What Allan discovered while he was away, however, was that it was worse than bad—it was disastrous. “It took a lot of will,” Allan told me over the phone days later. “To hold myself together when presenting in Austria—knowing what happened to Mezimbite…”
I met Allan in person fifteen years prior at an ethical fashion conference in Paris. He had earlier reached out to me via email, after hearing about my own work in conservation from a friend. We hit it off immediately—and talked excitedly about our love of many things—but particularly our love for forests.
Born in South Africa and having become an acclaimed architect, Allan eventually made his way to neighboring Mozambique after witnessing the destruction of the beloved forests of the Miombo biome he grew up with—largely for trivial things…”jolly junk shit,” he’ll often say to me, which loosely translates into tchotchkes and disposables. A teaching fellow at MIT at the time, he decided to leave his position and put his time, talent and effort into something that mattered—to him, to the people there, and to the forest.