MEET THE TEAM
Jim and Sheila Musto
Jim was born and raised in Zimbabwe. After completing a B.Sc. Agriculture at the Univeristy of Natal he took up a research post as a soil scientist at a Forestry Research institute and continued studying. After 6 years of flirting with an academic career the calling to return north of the Limpopo became too strong. He and his newly-wed wife, Sheila, got on their bicycles and headed north. Several punctures later and after some hair-raising traffic experiences in Nairobi, they decided that for the sake of their sanity and their marriage it would be a good idea to lay down the bicycles and find some employment in Kenya, which eventually transpired in a dairy farming job in the Rift Valley. Fours years later they returned to Zimbabwe to farm tobacco and coffee, but this was cut short after two years by Mugabe’s land plan, and resulted in a return to dairy farming – this time south of the Limpopo, near the village of Magaliesburg, west of Johannesburg. The Musto tribe, now numbering 6, moved further south in 2008 to the beautiful Kaba game farm. Jim has always been interested in livestock, game farming and veld management. He also shares his wife’s passion for educating youngsters in the exciting business of life. He has cycled, run and kayaked competitively for several years and has also spent most of his life involved with horses – for work and pleasure.
Sheila was born and raised in the farming areas west of Johannesburg. The daughter of exceptionally dynamic and innovative parents, Chippy and Cynthia Brand, Sheila has inherited that same contagious excitement for life and for people. After completing a two year diploma in Biblical studies followed by a BA at UCT, Sheila traveled and worked in the UK and Europe for a year before returning to enroll for her HDE (Higher Diploma in Education) at the University of Natal. She had been enjoying high school teaching at Epworth Girls College in Pietermaritzburg, when she was persuaded to join her husband on his north bound travels. She was recognised by both teachers and pupils as an inspiring and exciting teacher, and she has remained passionate about teaching young people. Sheila is also passionate about cooking and healthy eating and living – she thoroughly enjoys her sessions with the Quest students, inspiring them with the joys of growing and preparing food that is tasty and healthy. Her background in English and drama teaching have meant she can also have an important role in the development of public speaking skills. She often combines this with discussions on relationships and spiritual matters - subjects that are both very close to her heart, and form an important theme in the Quest experience.
Instructors and Guides
Leo was born and raised in Johannesburg. In his school years Leo became a keen sportsman with a specific interest in cricket. This interest developed into a passion, which ultimately led to him playing semi-professional cricket in Ireland. During this period he gained a lot of experience in training and coaching (in cricket and rugby) with the younger club members. Spending time with his brother (a personal trainer and sportsman) and Leo’s competitive nature transformed Leo into a fitness fanatic.
Leo returned to South Africa to pursue studies in Construction Science in Port Elizabeth and qualified with B.Sc. (Honours) Construction Management, going on to work as a Site Manager and Environmental Control Officer for Elisenheim Property Development Company in Namibia.
Leo is a qualified FGASA guide and a keen outdoors man, spending much of his free time either surfing or bow hunting. When the opportunity was made available to work on the pristine Kaba valley (where the bush meets the sea), Leo spontaneously obliged. Leo is also exceptionally fit and physically strong. He is a top rate competitive trail runner and has also competed well in the "Cross-fit" discipline. Whether it is trail running, cycling or swimming, Leo is leading the pack, and physically challenging the Quest boys. Leo is also a man of exceptional discipline and integrity, a quality highly cherished at Quest as he acts as a role model to the boys. He is passionate about teaching and mentoring young men, making him an awesome addition to the Quest Africa team.
Cameron & Sophie Smith
The Smiths have worked with Quest in a number of capacities since its inception in 2010, but joined our team full-time in 2017. Cameron was raised in Cape Town where his favourite childhood memories included fishing, hiking, building forts and rafts, and exploring the mountains as a Boy Scout. This love for the outdoors continued as Cameron spent a few years in the States working at an outdoor adventure camp, and this is where his love for rock climbing really grew. He later spent another year working at an outdoor adventure camp in the Canadian Rockies, this time with his wife, Sophie.
He has a BSc in Environmental Science and Geography, as well as qualifying as a high school Geography and Life Science teacher. He is also a qualified mountain guide, taking clients hiking, rock climbing and trekking in beautiful destinations like Table Mountain, and the Cederberg in South Africa, and Borneo and the Himalayans further afield.
He has an eye for detail and organisation and plays a big role in organising expeditions and trips, as well as being hands-on with the Questors in day to day training and activities, especially rock climbing, fishing and technical training.
Cameron’s wife Sophie oversees media, website and our applications process and liaises with parents on a regular basis. She is trained as a photojournalist and worked in marketing and tourism in the past. She also enjoys rock climbing, running, swimming and being outdoors. Cameron and Sophie have two children, Lexi (2) and Finn (4 months).
Chitani Gopole is a man of exceptional ability. He is able to absorb knowledge and learn new skills faster than anyone I have ever met. He also has the ability to make a plan when lesser men would have thrown in the towel long ago. He is quiet and unassuming but underneath the calm exterior is a determination and resilience that has allowed Chitani to achieve amazing things with the limited opportunities he has had.
Chitani left Zimbabwe in 2007. He arrived at Jim's farm gate at the Musto's dairy farm in Magaliesburg with his brother in law desperately seeking employment. The only work Jim had for them was protecting his maize lands at night time when the local population were helping themselves to a degree that was becoming ridiculous. Jim's maize theft problem ended that very night – with some indignant locals having to admit they had met their match with these committed and tough Zimbabweans. Every opportunity he has been given since then he has grasped with both hands and become extremely competent in a range of skills which include all aspects of cattle management, veld management, workshop skills, welding, woodwork, sewing (clothes making, tent repairs) leatherwork and saddlery, horse riding, meat butchering, and all aspects of nature guiding. As a nature guide (FGASA level 1), Chitani is competent in all aspects and his knowledge is broad and sound. His real forte is trees. A number of experts have spent time with him in this area and have been amazed at his exceptional knowledge of the trees in this area of coastal forest.
With the Quest students Chitani is a patient and well-liked guide who spends several hours revealing to individuals a wealth of fascinating information about trees, grasses and the ecosystem as a whole. Chitani’s story and, in particular, his attitude to learning are a wonderful example of how much can be gained if one grasps opportunities with both hands. Chitani’s attitude and resourcefulness provide a great model for the students of Quest Africa to learn from and emulate
Dean is responsible for all the Technical acumen training and maintenance for both Quest and the Kaba farming business. He is a person of exceptional energy and technical skill. He is truly exceptional in that he has a thorough knowledge and working ability with all the main technical areas that we are able to cover - workshop tools and welding, vehicles and vehicle maintenance, woodwork and carpentry, building, plumbing and electrics. There is no area that is in any way a weakness. He really enjoys the students and is a fine role model of hard-working zest for life. He maintains very high standards in the workshop and instills good habits of safety, "house-keeping" and completing jobs thoroughly and well. Dean has become an indispensable part of the Quest training team.
Dylan is no longer a full time Quest instructor, but we involve him as often as we can in arranging, coordinating and leading a number of our multi-day physical epics. He is also sometimes involved in the rock climbing team under Graham Carlson and still maintains the Kaba bird list.
Dylan grew up and was schooled in East London and continued his education at Rhodes University where he graduated with an MSc degree in Environmental Science. Before commencing his tertiary education, he spent four years working, travelling and volunteering across southern Africa and Europe. During this time, amongst other things, he did some field guiding, worked in an operating theatre in a hospital in England, did volunteer work in Angola and spent some time living with a Xhosa family in a small rural village in the former Transkei.
University exposed Dylan to a number of extramural activities. He now has a passion for cycling and running he has developed a keen interest in rock climbing and canoeing. Through his involvement with Quest Africa, he has enjoyed the opportunity to incorporate most, if not all of his passions and interests. Some of these are the planning and execution of expeditions -or "epics" as we like to call them-, birding, general fun in the sun and the chance to build into the lives of young people.
All that aside, the things he holds most dear are his faith, his amazing wife Misty and his family and friends.
Dr Wayne Vos
Wayne is involved in Quest in various capacities, including conservation and ecology teaching, spear-fishing and fishing instruction and Wild Coast hiking guide. We try to pin Wayne down where ever we can because he is very competent but also a wonderful role model in so many ways. Physically tough and resilient, he also has tremendous knowledge and experience in various fields. He is always a pleasure to be with on expeditions and has earned the respect and affection of all Questors he has dealt with.
He taught an ecology course for the School for Field Studies to American undergraduates in Kenya from 1994 to 2003, and has more than 25 years of field (and marine) experience in East and South Africa. Besides his doctorate in botany, he also has a National Diploma in Nature Conservation and first aid certification. Wayne’s depth and breadth of knowledge in natural history and conservation, combined with his relaxed and humorous approach, makes learning effective and fun.
Graham has become an integral part of the Quest program. He oversees the physical benchmark testing process and is also responsible for the rock climbing training. He is a wonderful person to work with and his enthusiasm and knowledge in the physical training arena has really enhanced our programs, as we learn how best to develop physical fitness in groups of young people with a range of fitness levels and natural abilities.
Graham studied sports science at Rhodes University, majoring in human movement studies and psychology. He also captained Border RFU, playing in both the Vodacom and Currie Cup rugby. He has since worked as director of sport at Kingswood College, overseeing the sport at both the junior and senior school.
Graham tests the student's overall fitness and works with them over the months to motivate and encourage students to achieve the pinnacle of physical fitness.