In 1999, Wall Street veteran Carol Batrus ’84 moved to rural South Africa, where she spent two and a half years living in a cinder block house without running water and with only a small generator for electricity. She didn’t have regular access to a phone and cleaned her clothes in a bucket of water. “I had plenty of time to read and write in the evenings,” says Batrus, whose memoir, When Elephants Fly: One Woman’s Journey from Wall Street to Zululand (Fulcrum Publishing), was published in September.
“Wall Street made me tough, but I knew that I wanted to find something that made me feel better about what I was contributing to the world,” she says. After working for 10 years as a vice president of institutional equity sales at First Boston, Batrus moved to Colorado without a job in hand. When a friend told her about a position managing a community development project in a Zulu village for the International Wilderness Leadership Foundation, she didn’t deliberate for long. “I wanted to dismantle everything that was familiar and really shake my life up,” she says.
Her many initiatives included developing a clean water supply system, leading workshops on conservation and teaching Zulu women about business. “It was so inspiring. I watched the women I worked with take very linear Western concepts that were totally foreign to them and learn to run their own businesses,” she says. Back in Colorado, Batrus has finished her first book tour. “I know I want to continue to be very much involved with the issues I care about.”