Born in the suburbs of Boston, Racey first fell in love with Africa when she saw the movie Out of Africa. She was lucky enough to travel to Zimbabwe in 1997 and experience the community, joy and incredible African wildlife for the first time. Three years in Peace Corps in Mauritania (2000-2003) then introduced her to the realities of poverty, desertification, development and business in the developing world, and she was hooked - so much love, joy, community, fragility, faith and struggle in the same place.
A well-intended full-time career in development work, however, ended up not being the right thing for her. She needed the air, the sun, the soil and the day-to-day interactions with farmers, villagers, salt-of-the-earth to be fulfilled. So, in 2009 she left permanent life in Africa and began farming in Essex, NY, finally meeting her husband and starting Reber Rock Farm in 2013. Each winter, in the off-season, she returned to Africa to do development work.
In 2009, four years prior to this current crisis, she began working on small-holder agriculture issues in CAR for the first time. The country fascinated her - its culture, history and agriculture so different from the West African countries she’d known to date. It’s natural resources and biodiversity immense, its people so resilient, yet so stuck in a horrible cycle of violence and poverty. This most recent cycle worst of all.
With nearly 20 years of development and humanitarian experience, Racey believes strongly that independence and self-reliance are the key to sustainable change and that business - for profit business - plays a key role in creating the conditions necessary for people to pull themselves out of poverty and violence.
She lives in Essex, NY on Reber Rock Farm with her husband, Nathan, her son, Lewis, Auntie Gwennie and Uncle Chad, 13 horses, 30 cows, 300 chickens, 30 pigs, 1 dog, numerous cats, innumerable wildlife and beautiful views. She spends between two and four months in Africa each year.
HOW WE MET
Charlotte and Racey met in Bangui in 2009. The love for running and honest talk brought them together and they quickly became good friends, sharing a passion for business as a factor for societal change.
The devastation of this most recent crisis in CAR troubles them both deeply, yet in the midst of the horror and destruction they see and want to share a different story of CAR. A story about the many Central Africans that they know who find joy, community, laughter and hope in the middle of a crisis. Extremely resilient Central Africans who go to great lengths to live an every day life, in the middle of a war. Ndara was born out of this desire: to tell a story of hope, skill and resiliency from the Central African Republic.