When Endeavor pilot George Matimba stepped foot onto African land for the first time in 26 years, he had a purpose.
Along with three other African pilots representing other airlines, the CRJ-900 Captain traveled back to his roots to share opportunities and educate African students about aviation, specifically in Liberia.
“All four of us pilots came out of nothing. We all had a passion for flying and aviation, and wanted to encourage young kids and connect them with the right people and organizations so that they can pursue their dreams,” Matimba said.
George’s own story took hard work and dedication to get to where he is today. He grew up in Zimbabwe and had the opportunity to study in the Netherlands for further his education.
“I had a professor that told me, ‘I don’t see the passion in your eyes for finance and accounting. Why are you in my class?’” Matimba said. “He lit the fire underneath me and said, ‘Whatever it is that you want to do, where there’s a will there’s a way – so you need to find your way.”
Taking his professor’s advice, Matimba enrolled in flight school in the U.S. and made money delivering newspapers and washing cars. He then started flying for Wells Fargo in Albuquerque, and he was eventually hired by Endeavor in 2007.
With his own story in mind, Matimba traveled around Liberia for nine days with his fellow pilots. Liberia is the only Africa country that doesn’t have any airlines or aviation centers.
“We saw that there was a need to break ground with those kids in Liberia,” said Matimba. “To see the look in those children’s eyes and see the determination and passion that they have for aviation was eye-opening.”
Matimba and his colleagues worked with the National Aviation Students Association of Liberia (NASAL) and put together a seminar for students at six different schools. This was the first time those students had individuals come into their classroom and speak about career opportunities.
“The kids had so many questions about flying; they were listening to us, but we were also listening to them,” said Matimba. “The best advice we gave them was that they just have to excel: Do the best that they can and get good grades. We told them to never give up.”
Matimba and his colleagues do not plan to stop there. They are already scheduled to work with students in another Africa country in 2021.
“If you look at the world right now, Africa is the only continent with the lowest demand for pilots,” said Matimba. “When these kids see us – pilots who were born in Africa – flying in the US, it gives them hope and encouragement. It shows them that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”