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Talitha - team Roots Interns

Talitha van der Waerden
General Manager

Talitha has a hugely varied CV; she’s worked as a tour leader in the Middle East, as a communications consultant, and a project manager developing change management campaigns for big multinationals. In 2012, Talitha took a break from her career in the Netherlands to travel, explore new places and use her skills for a good cause during a work placement with a nonprofit in Cape Town. Three months turned into six, and eventually into a job coordinating events and experiences. Talitha is now excited to manage Roots, and enable others to have fulfilling volunteer work placements around the world. Having been in your shoes, she knows how important it is to find the right match between individuals and organizations, and she goes out of her way to create the most rewarding experience for all involved.

Amanda Drobek
MARKETING Manager & University Relations

Amanda is one of Roots very own alumni coming full circle to be a part of the team. After graduating from Indiana University with degrees in Marketing, International Business, Digital & Social Media and Spanish, she headed to Malawi to complete a Sustainable Tourism Marketing Internship at Butterfly Space. This developed into longer term role within the nonprofit, and a year later she joined Roots to help facilitate experiences just like the one she had. Knowing first-hand what it’s like to be a Roots intern, Amanda combines her personal and academic experiences with her passion for purpose-driven work to share opportunities with interns around the world.

Wendy Wongani hara
marketing & communications lead

Wendy is from Africa’s Warm Heart – Malawi. With a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, her career began in diplomacy work. However, driven by her interest in community development and looking for a way to blend her creativity with her career, she found herself working as a volunteer coordinator at Butterfly Space (where Amanda first began her journey with Roots). Now, armed with skills ranging from project management to social media wizardry, Wendy brings a fresh perspective and energy to the team. Beyond the 9-to-5, she is also a DJ and poet!


doreen KAbuzi
Placement Manager

Doreen embodies the rich diversity of Africa with her fusion of South African and Ugandan heritage. Having obtained bachelor’s and master’s law degrees from the University of Cape Town, she has devoted her studies & research to exploring the transformative potential of governance tools at the grass-“roots” level. And yes, pun very much intended! Rather than treading the conventional corporate trajectory, she recognized a unique opportunity to leverage her knowledge & skills to drive social impact in Africa and beyond. Doreen’s passion lies in fostering cross-border partnerships and empowering communities. Embracing her role at Roots, she envisions herself as an influential force in shaping the future of social impact work around the world.

Nakeshia Tobias

nakeshia tobias
Experience Coordinator

Nakeshia started her career in the world of theatre; she studied at Cape Town’s Theatre School and worked at the Rainbow Academy as a performer, hostess, and production administrator. After a few years, she shifted gears and worked in retail, in the nonprofit sector, and in tourism. She’s now an essential part of ensuring our interns have a smooth and enjoyable internship experience, from start to finish. Nakeshia is passionate about the impact our internship programs make, both on our interns, and on our grassroot partners around the world.

Felicity Gratton
Sales manager

Felicity started her career within the volunteer tourism industry following a life-changing travel experience in Zimbabwe. For several years, she worked as a destination specialist, sharing her own experience in Africa, and encouraging others to do the same. Felicity’s passion lies within the sustainable travel industry and fostering meaningful relationships, particularly in the field of wildlife conservation. She’s also part of Penda Photo Tours promoting photography travel.

Roots Interns team

marleen lammers

Marleen (pronounced ‘Marlane’ – sensitive subject) started her career as a broadcasting journalist in the Netherlands, but was drawn to African adventure and moved to Zambia a decade-and-a-half ago. For several years, she developed and managed community and conservation volunteer projects on the ground in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, before moving into communications and strategic development in the nonprofit sector in Cape Town. She is also a freelance writer, and a co-founder of Penda Photo Tours, a photography travel company and aligned charity, Penda Trust.

Lizzy - content writing intern

Social Media Coordinator

Cape Town local and recent graduate, Lizzy completed her Creative Brand Communication degree with the IIE-Vega College. Her infatuation with words and fondness for storytelling led her into the world of communication and copywriting. She has a keenness for crafting stories that leave an impression and cause good change in the world. As such, she joined Roots to gain practical work experience and develop her skills as a content writer in a workplace that aligned with her values. After her internship she continued to  be part of our team as a social media coordinator. This will help lay the foundations for her career path before she sets off to Europe to further her studies in sustainable business.


Tom Rusbridge
Content Writer

Tom, a recent graduate in English and Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London, is in the early stages of his career as a content writer. With a growing portfolio as a freelance writer, he is keen to develop his knowledge of digital marketing as part of a team and joined Roots as an SEO Content Writing intern. Before university, Tom spent some time traveling, and volunteered with a number of NGOs as he went. As such, he is passionate about Roots’ mission not just for the value they provide to grassroots organizations, but for the valuable experience they provide to interns too.


Gabriel Ruiz
Content Writer

Gabriel spent the first 9 years of his life in Mexico, but moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 2014. 3 years later, he moved back to his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico. In 2022, he managed to get an opportunity to study at the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences. He has a deep passion for anything creative, as well as learning new languages, traveling, and meeting people from different cultures. This comes from his time living in the USA, where he met people from all parts of the world. He completed the SEO Content Writing Internship with Roots and now helps out our team with copy writing on a freelance basis.