About Vanda

Biography of Vanda Chittenden

Born in 1975 in Amanzimtoti, Vanda grew up on a 10-hectare farm on the outskirts of a little town called Petit. She returned to Amanzimtoti in 1999, where she has lived ever since.

During the 10 years helping to run her family’s farm (1988 – 1999), she spent several years growing vegetables and fruit orchards for the local market. She decided at age 16 to invest in a Saanen goat herd. The Saanen herd produced enough milk to start a goat’s cheese and yoghurt production, and for selling goats milk to the hospitals in response to increasing number of lactose intolerant babies. Along with the goats, she raised chickens, sheep, ducks, geese, quail, guinea fowl, rabbits and a small number of cows and pigs. The abundance of veggies, fruit, milk, and meat provided a steady supply of food for the needy, through their local church, that was right across the road from the farm.

In 1994 Vanda completed her NQF4, with a focus on Geography, Art, and Biblical Studies, through Lyceum College.

In January 1995 , after several years of training, she achieved 5 gold medals in the South African Karate Championship for Shotokan Karate, Jiujitsu and Kungfu for Kumite and Kata divisions and qualified for the International World Karate Championship held in 1996 in Japan.

During this time, Vanda loved being active and being out in nature, and spent a considerable amount of time, freestyle rock climbing, kayaking, white river rafting, camping, hiking, horse riding, spelunking and trail running.

Between 1995 – 1998 she studied towards a Diploma in Nature Conservation, to fulfill a dream of working with nature and the wildlife in it.

Whilst studying, she worked full time during 1995 – 1998, as an area manager for all the Mr Price branches in the Eastrand area.

After the birth of her son, and the return to Amanzimtoti in 1999, Vanda started as a website administrator in 2004. The same year she completed a Human Resources Management Course.

Vanda joined the committee for the South Coast Art Association in Amanzimtoti, between 2004 – 2008. Although technically trained in Watercolour, most of her art was in pencil and charcoal.

In January 2004, Vanda joined the Scouting movement as a helper and officially joined as a uniformed volunteer in 2006 as an assistant pack scouter for the cubs, then from 2008 as the Akela. In 2018 she signed on as the Assistant District commissioner for cubs in the South Coast Area, until 2020.

January 2011, Vanda joined the Genealogical Society as a Transcriber, Preservationist and Documenter of tombstones, and plaques.

In June 2011, Vanda helped found and establish the Toti Conservancy, she was active member of the committee between 2011 – 2014, holding the School Liaison Portfolio and started the Toti Conservancy Facebook page and group. This role of School Liaison included environmental talks and education at schools, ECD centers, and other youth organizations. Organizing youth events around the environment, bringing the youth along to help at events, or just going on educational walks. During this time, the cubs and scouts were incredibly involved with the Toti Conservancy.

Other big environmental projects she was involved in was.

  • Bird Sanctuary water pollution and actions taken around it.
  • Amanzimtoti and Little Amanzimtoti Rivers alien invasive clearing and related issues.
  • Bernadotte Rd Sewerage upgrade and other issues related to sewerage.
  • Dune Rehabilitation projects in the Toti Area.
  • Toti Conservancy / Toti Tourism Green corridor initiative.
  • Sand mining on the Illovo River.
  • Linking up with combined Wessa events and education.
  • Some minor and legal protests under the banner of Greenpeace.

In 2014 she had to make a difficult decision to either leave the conservancy or scouts, due to time constraints, and decided to spend more quality time for her son, through scouts. She regrets not continuing with the conservancy, as her heart lies with nature and the conservation of our planet.

In 2015 Vanda started a huge adventure in sewing and she learned how to quilt and joined an international community of quilters, with generous hearts. They donate thousands of quilts to orphaned and abused children every year. And who makes weighted quilts for traumatized soldiers, returning from the wars and children suffering from Autism.

In September 2016, Vanda joined the Anglican Church in Warner Beach, St Mary’s Kingsburgh, and became involved in ministry in the community.

Colloquially called the curate of St Mary’s, (by some), Vanda is an active lay member of the ministry team. Assisting with Pastoral Care, preaching, Sunday evening Meditation sessions, prayer ministry, Alpha Ministry. She assists with planning Sunday services, website & blog maintenance, and social media presence. She sits on the Parish Council, the Alternate Warden and is the Lay Pastoral Assistant to the Rector.

Vanda sits on the Diocesan Council for Natal, as a lay representative for the Archdeaconry South area and is a member of the Creation Care Network of Natal.

In 2018 answering a call into full time ministry, Vanda signed up with TEEC, to study the Bachelor of Theology Course, under the mentorship and leadership of her Rector Fr. Andrew Manning.