Up Close … with the chief executive of SIF, Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley-‘I believe all challenges can be overcome’


Dr Fleischer-DogleyNot surprising also is that the nature lover has studied the coco de mer and carried out research on this palm which bears the largest seed in the plant kingdom and is endemic to the islands of Praslin and Curieuse. The study and research which she carried out between 1998 and 2006 earned Mrs Fleischer-Dogley her doctorate and Seychelles a wealth of more detailed information on one of the most extraordinary and interestingly shaped nuts in the world.

A very friendly, open and easy person to talk to, it was with warmth and enthusiasm that she welcomed me at the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) headquarters at La Ciotat building, Mont Fleuri where she has her office.

As the chief executive of SIF, the foundation that manages the two heritage sites since 2007, Dr Fleischer-Dogley leads a team of people who ensures that the two sites are properly maintained and visitors are satisfied in order for their experiences to be long-lasting and memorable.

Studies, life and work in Seychelles 
A German by birth Fleischer-Dogley first came to Seychelles in 1990 at the age of 23 and married to Didier Dogley, the current special advisor to the Minister for Environment and Energy. Both studied at the Erfurt University in East Germany. While she studied to be a horticulturist, her husband-to-be studied landscape architecture.

Describing herself as a very optimistic person who believes that all challenges can be overcome, Dr Fleischer-Dogley talks about the challenges she encountered and had to overcome during the first few years following her arrival to Seychelles, a foreign country and her not speaking a word of the native Creole language and very little English. But now, 22 years later, Dr Fleischer-Dogley, an inhabitant of Le Niol in the Beau Vallon district, can express herself remarkably well in a Creole I would describe as good.

“I knew nothing of the Creole language and very little English when I came here but I was determined to learn and I am still learning,” Dr Fleischer-Dogley said.

She was full of laughter when she recalled the welcome she received by her husband’s family.

“Nobody spoke a word of English to me and I had only my husband to rescue me then,” she laughed.

“I told myself there and then that I had a huge task awaiting me because if I was to live my life independently in this family where everyone was so nice and friendly but speaks only Creole to me, I had to concentrate on grasping every word and remembering what they mean,” she told me.

She admitted that this was not easy at first but with the help of her husband, she managed.

English also was another matter because she recalled her husband telling her that if she wanted to find a job she would need a good English background.

Armed only with her determination, she applied herself to learning both Creole and English.
With her fast learning nature, a year after her arrival here, she landed her first job at the Indian Ocean Nursery (ION) at Barbarons.  

As a horticulturist, she was responsible for the production of flowers, mainly orchids, which at that time were being exported on a weekly basis to mainly European markets – UK, Germany and Italy.

The nursery also catered to some extent for flower arrangements for the local market.
After two years at the ION, she decided to take a new job offer from Le Meridien Barbarons Hotel to help redesign the hotel’s gardens.

“I helped out as a landscape architect and this is also where I started to learn quite a lot about the various plants here,” she said.

Becoming pregnant with her third child during that time did not allow her to continue in her new job.

“My husband had left to continue his studies overseas so I decided to stop work at least for some time to care for the kids,” she said.

She has two girls and a boy, two of whom are already grown up and studying abroad.
But her leave from work was to last only a year.

With her expertise it did not take her long to get another job offer. This time it was from the then Ministry of Environment and Transport.

A new law with regard to the protection of the coco de mer had just been passed and someone was needed to enforce it.

Admittedly all the misgivings she had at the beginning vanished once she got the gist of what her new job entailed. She recalled running back home and seeking her husband’s advice on the new job offer.

Dr Fleischer-Dogley said it was the greatest opportunity ever.
“The job allowed me to learn a lot about the coco de mer palm and nut and the forests of Mahe and other islands. I met and got to know a lot of important and interesting people who share my love of plants as well and this of course helped me to further develop and improve my Creole,” she recalled.

Her work on the coco de mer project increased her interest on the nut and this also generated further research and today she is satisfied with all that has been achieved in that aspect as well as in nature conservation in Seychelles as a whole.

She took part in and made her contributions towards various nature conservation projects and helped  draft a management plan for the Morne Seychellois National Park, the country’s eco-tourism strategy for the 21st century, which was launched in 2003.

Work with SIF
Dr Fleischer-Dogley was first nominated in 2002 to serve on the board of the SIF and this was officially confirmed a year later.

The foundation was established as a public trust in 1979, with the President of Seychelles as patron. Its board of trustees, appointed by the President, has 14 members, with Maurice Loustau-Lalane as the chairperson.

Aldabra was designated a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1982 while the Vallée de Mai on Praslin was designated a year later.

Dr Fleischer-Dogley sharing a light moment with Princess Anne on Aldabra during her visit to Seychelles in November 2010

It was through the song Aldabra by Patrick Victor that Dr Fleischer-Dogley recalled she first came to learn about the atoll and this was a year or two after her arrival in Seychelles but it never crossed her mind at that time that one day she would have the chance to set foot there.

When she learned that the island, as well as the Vallée de Mai, among the most prestigious heritage sites in the world, were to fall under her responsibility, Dr Fleischer-Dogley said: “This was the greatest honour”.

“I feel so blessed and privileged to have been chosen for the post,” she added.
Dr Fleischer-Dogley pointed out that “a lot of work had been done by the SIF, the world has come to learn a lot about the heritage sites through all that has been achieved by my predecessors but a lot remains to be done and we are concentrating on working to put the SIF on another level”.

Looking back on all that the SIF has achieved, Dr Fleischer-Dogley said it is all thanks to the devotion and hard work of a reliable and capable team.
“As the one responsible I have very challenging responsibilities but thanks to the support of my team, together we will achieve a lot more.
“The SIF has a lot of work to do and the two heritage sites have a lot more potential to be discovered and my aim is to work to ensure they reveal more of their secrets,” Dr Fleischer-Dogley confided.

Looking back on all she has achieved, Dr Fleischer-Dogley said Seychelles as a country offers a lot of opportunities to its people regardless of origin, colour, religion and other affiliations but it is up to the people to seize those opportunities.

Mrs Dogley said she is very grateful and express her heartfelt thanks to the government for the great opportunity, for the support she received from her husband and his family and from all the people she has worked with in the various ministries.

“You have all contributed to make me who I am today and for this I will always be grateful to you all,” she said.

Past time
The very little time she has for herself she enjoys reading nature material mostly and spend time with her family which has only one child now still at home. She enjoys cooking and adores all the local chutneys and salads especially the mango salads and green pawpaw chutney.

“I enjoy all the local dishes even though it took me so long to be able to master the various recipes”, said  Dr Fleischer-Dogley.

One of her favourite dishes is salted fish curry with coconut milk and bred pti fey.
“Yummy I enjoy this one,” she said.

Recalling the various anecdotes relating to these exotic dishes Dr Fleischer-Dogley laughed because each time she prepares them she thinks of the years back when her in-laws taught her the recipes.

“I never believed I would be able to cook my family these dishes but here I am and very happy indeed,” she said.

By Marie-Anne Lepathy

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Thomas Gensch

Hallo Frauke - Petra und Thomas hier. Haben Dich gerade zufällig im Fernsehen gesehen. Und da bin ich einfach auf GOOGLE Bilder gegangen und so auf diese Seite gekommen. Vielleicht erreichen Dich diese Zeilen und du meldest dich mal bei uns. E-Mail Adresse steht oben.Würden uns freuen PS: Uns geht es gut

59 minutes ago