"Hello ! We are Ophélie and Julie. We are 23 years old and come from Belgium. We stayed at DAKTARI for three weeks.
We wanted to volunteer abroad and were looking for a project that was meaningful to us. As future childhood psychologists, we wanted to work with children. Taking care of animals and the environment were other topics that interested us. DAKTARI was the perfect combination. Indeed, it combines different projects and ideals: protecting the environment, the animals, help educating the children, discover a new culture…
So every morning we start with a dog walk. There are four dogs at DAKTARI that we must take care of. All of the children and the volunteers have to participate. After a delicious breakfast (by the way, we enjoyed the peanut butter very much), we do the morning stabling, which means we clean the enclosures and feed the animals. The rest of the day is dedicated to the lessons. We get to talk about different topics, e.g. environment, tracks, animal knowledge, … Each night, there is a different activity to do with the children. For example, we watched the Lion King on Wednesdays. Every activity is also an occasion to learn something. We really enjoyed the stabling because, among other things, we got to see how to feed different animals, including the cheetah, which is very impressive. The meerkats were definitely our favourite the meerkats! They’re very cuddly and friendly. The bonfire was also a fun part! Concerning the lesson, our favourite one was "Making South Africa a better place". This lesson is interesting because we go over all of the subjects that were discussed during the week. The children can therefore understand the link between they have learned.
During our stay we have been on different excursions. Ophélie, will always remember the walk in the Blyde River Canyon. The nature is extremely beautiful. I am endlessly amazed by the African sceneries because they are full of surprises. And Julie, enjoyed the Kruger Park, which is one of the biggest national reserves in the world. DAKTARI is very close to this park. Therefore it is an opportunity that one cannot miss. I got to see stunning animals that I have always dreamed to encounter.
The most important thing that we have learned is how to take care of the animals. If we had to choose our least favourite part it will be waiting for dinner time because the food was so delicious! Our most striking memory is the afternoon we spent at a village collecting rubbish. Many volunteers and children helped out to clean a school. It was amazing to see everyone coming together and working for the same cause. In the end, we also got to share games and dances with the children. If you think about volunteering, come. Do not hesitate! Three weeks is an interesting length in general. You have the time to get used to the place, do excursions, enjoy the way of living at DAKTARI and say goodbye. If this kind of trip is linked to your future job, you could still do a long term volunteering and get to practice. We can also realize the reality of the life in South Africa and effectively contribute to making it a better place to stay in. We like living the bush life, first because it is a rare opportunity. Secondly we can reconsider our place on this planet. We are all part of the circle of life. We really enjoyed changing our point of view."
This month, we renovated the adult mongooses enclosure by adding more logs and plants. They arranged the enclosure so that it looks more like their natural habitat. Old tyres from the cars were also recycled to make tunnels and provide the mongooses something to climb on.
We are adding fresh branches to the enclosure every week to make the enclosure look green, and give the mongooses extra things to play with – hopefully they will find some bugs!
Alix comes from Belgium, she is 18 years old and stayed 2 weeks at Daktari.
“I was looking for an organisation that would allowed me to work with animals. DAKTARI was the only one that allowed me to feed them, clean their enclosures…And I loved taking care of them. Martin, the cheetah is the most impressive animal in the camp, but I enjoyed spending time with the meerkats the most.
DAKTARI offers a better interaction with both animals and the village than other organizations. Usually they offer you either a children program or an animal program, but not both. That’s why I choose to come here.
Teaching the children was really nice. You do the dog walk with them before breakfast. Then we have morning stabling where they learn how to take care of wildlife. The rest of the morning is dedicated to the lessons. You have a break between 12.30 and 2pm. The lessons continue until 4.30pm which is the time of the afternoon stabling. At 6.30pm it is dinner time and after we have an activity with the children. During the day, you can help with animals at any time, as long as you don’t have a lesson. I really enjoyed the social talk about the safe sex, it was really interesting.
That’s why DAKTARI’s project is important because you can sensitize the children, the future of the country, to the importance of taking care of their animals and their environment. It is with project like this that you can make a real difference on the long term.
During my volunteer experience, I went to the Blyde River Canyon. It was super impressive and really beautiful, I highly recommend it. If I had to choose my best memory, I would say that is when we went to the Oaks village for the Mandela day. We cleaned the village for 67 minutes, then we ate a delicious meal. At the end of the lunch, we went to the school and children surprised us with a song. We played with them for an hour and a half and we talked a lot. That was a special day for them and we had the possibility to share it with them.
What I learnt the most is the way of living of the South Africans. Children taught us their games, you can share your vision of life with them and talk about the differences… And I liked living in the bush, it is such a different way of living. You can experiment something different, even though DAKTARI has more comfort that the houses in the villages around us.
So, to conclude, I would say COME, do not hesitate!”
We are happy to welcome Marie, our new Marketing Manager!
Marie is 24 years old and coming from France where she worked in communication and events. She is staying with us for 7 months and will manage communication and marketing tasks.
Marie thought about volunteering for a while but didn't find the right moment. So, she took a break and came to DAKTARI to have a volunteering experience related to her studies.
We are very excited to have Marie in the DAKTARI Team and we hope she has a great time here in the coming months!
"I decided to come to DAKTARI Bush School with my son, Alexandre,11 years old, to share and experiment with something very different from our everyday life in Europe, through another culture, both with animals care and with children.
My best memory at DAKTARI has been to watch my son interact with animals and becoming independent and taking so much pleasure doing it. Alex’s best experience was the Bonfire night, dancing and singing around the fire with all the other kids, a lot of joy and laughs.
During our stay in DAKTARI, we managed to do a Safari in the Kruger reserve, a wonderful moment which brought us in the magic of Africa, watching the beauty of nature and animals.
Alex enjoyed every moment of his stay at DAKTARI, the contact with children, playing and dancing with them, the kindness of the staff and the other volunteers. He worked hard with everyone and fell proud of what he was achieving.
When I left to go to DAKTARI I didn’t know what to expect, it was a real adventure. I am happy that we did it, I know that we will come back to Europe enriched from this experience, full of unique “souvenirs”. DAKTARI is quite special from other ONG because it offers to families and young adults the possibility to interact and help with animals caring for them, stabling, preparing their food, feed them, clean after. It is also very nice and challenging to teach a group of children from a poor neighborhood on world topics such as the environment, geography, animals in South Africa etc.. as well as discussions on substance abuse, safe sex, respect… and through games, dancing, and singing!
To conclude I would like to say again how rewarding it has been to see my boy of 11 feeling so happy and full of joy during his stay at DAKTARI and to realize at his young age that through help and connecting with other children that are very poor and animal care, that life is much more beautiful and interesting.
Thank you, DAKTARI!"
"Hello everyone, we are Zoe and Aurea, two 19-year-old french girls who decided to come to South Africa to live the DAKTARI adventure.
This place was advised to us by a friend of ours who enjoyed it a lot. We both wanted to volunteer to help people and hearing about this project convinced us. Indeed, having the possibility to teach young students while taking care of animals sounded like an amazing opportunity for us. We both stayed here a month and had the occasion to experiment the two different programs lead by DAKTARI: the Job Hunting Program and the Environmental Education Program.
The first one targeted students from 18 to 25 years old and was supposed to help them get ready to enter the job market. During the two fist weeks, we taught them how to make CVs, cover letters and how to behave in job interviews. It was really rewarding for us because we met great students who improved a lot during their stay. Moreover, we really had the feeling to play a part in their life and that the knowledge we brought them could really make a difference in their future.
The second program was focused on younger children (grade 8) and their relationship with their environment. During the last two weeks, we taught them how to protect their world and the animals that surround them. The role we played was more one of a counselor than a teacher but it was a great experience as well, given that the children were very curious and enthusiastic about their stay at DAKTARI Bush School.
During our volunteer experience, we had the occasion to discover the surroundings thanks to the excursions proposed by DAKTARI. We went to the Blyde River Canyon, on of the most beautiful places we have ever seen. We also did a safari in the Kruger National Park on our own, with two other volunteers we met here and who became our friends. It was unforgettable!
We made a lot of great memories here, thanks to the children and volunteers we met and who all brought something different and personal to our life. Furthermore, being in contact with all these animals (especially the babies antelopes, who were the cutest) was very cool! The best memories we made were at the bonfires when volunteers and children gathered to dance and sing in the bush: the atmosphere was so joyful!
Our stay in DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage was a rewarding and unique experience during which we met extraordinary people. It was an occasion to discover South Africa: a beautiful country which is, unfortunately, still facing some issues that need to be solved. We were gd to contribute, in our scale, to try to solve them."
We are happy to welcome Sacha, our new Office Assistant!
Sacha is 24 years old and is coming from Switzerland where he finished his business Management bachelor. He is staying with us for six months and will help with the Eco Clubs and the Fundraising tasks.
For a long time, Sacha wanted to volunteer and he is still looking for what he wants to do professionally. So, he choose to come at DAKTARI to get a volunteering work experience in an NGO.
We are very excited to have Sacha in the DAKTARI Team and we hope he has a great time here in the coming months!
We recently said goodbye to our Meerkat family. Twelve of our meerkats left DAKTARI to be rehabilitated. Only Gasper and Tikki stayed behind because they are quite old and have lost some of their teeth.
Gasper was the first to arrive at DAKTARI in 2010, follow by Tikki (2011) and Madonna (2014). The family then grew with Madonna's three babies in November 2014: Porthos, Athas and Aramis. In 2017, Colo, Tschumi and Jess joined the meerkat family followed by Jess' three babies.
Eeyore the donkey is going to miss his butt scratching buddies and our staff will miss running after them when they escape! Although we were very sad to see them go; we are delighted to know that they will be back in their natural habitat soon enough.
We also said goodbye to Chimoya, the baby buffalo. She arrived in March and has grown up with Tango and Tony, the baby sable antelope. She returned to the neighbouring farm where she is from to join her buffalo family and live in the wild.
In my perspective, Daktari’s project represents the future for the next generations of Africa.
Before I had even heard about Daktari -along with their project, I already had similar ideas I could see myself building in the future. Reconnecting humans - and especially the children, with their inner instincts, respect, love and bond with nature and with the animals, with earth, and therefore their land and their culture…
I have always believed the importance of future generations to re-immerse the feeling and deep understanding of being part of everything and everything being part of them, of us, comprehending we are ONE.
Seeing the children open their minds and put their trust in us made me feel blessed and fortunate. I feel I taught them as much as they taught me, and also much about myself…
This has led to a loss of animal habitat, wrong interspecies communication and a damaged relationship between human and animal. Humankind have a way of making you feel and be in the present moment...
Humankind and animals belong together, as equals, side by side. No other way.
Our vision of the world and being has the possibility to extend through contact with other individuals, different locations, diverse cultures and different mindsets. Exchanges as such, not only intercultural but emotional and personal experiences are the most powerful tool towards an open-minded education and therefore a change in our current society. And this is what Daktari’s mission is about.
What particularly counts for me is to transmit; not to persuade but to give the foundations to be further interpreted freely.
We recently received generous donations from South African corporates.
L'OREAL donated some beauty and body care products. They will be given to the children who come to DAKTARI as a reward after their accomplishment of the week. It is a wonderful way to encourage them and to learn about hygiene.
The leader of the Pet Industry, Marltons, donated some products such as water bottles, dishes and games. This will contribute to the good care and enrichment of our animals.
The Rotary Club of Middleburg donated stationary and school furnitures for DAKTARI and schools we are working with. All have been received with a lot of gratitude.
A leading food producer, RCL FOOD, donated Maize meal, flour and peanut butter which are all part of the children's meals.
We are very grateful for all these amazing donations! Donations like these are fundamental to the organisation in order to keep their program running!
DAKTARI recently welcomed Beth, our new animal assistant! Beth is joining us from the UK where she previously studied zoology. She is staying with us for six months and will help our Animal Manager Johnson with the care and welfare of DAKTARI's animals. Her main goal is to update the animal enclosure with enrichment.
Beth has many experiences with wild animals. She volunteered twice in a rescue and rehabilitation in Malawi. She helped to raise and care for monkey mainly, but also lion, serval or leopard! Then she worked as conservation intern for two months in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa.
We are very excited to have Beth in the DAKTARI Team and we hope she has a great time here in the coming months!
My name is Karin and I’m from the Netherlands. I’m at Daktari with my husband Gerwin and my two sons Nils (14) and Bjorn (10). When we’re planning this holiday we really like to combine working as a volunteer and meeting other cultures and experience the nature. Daktari offers that. Especially the education program for the local students and working with the animals is why we choose Daktari.
We came at DAKTARI on Saturday 28th of April 2018 for a week. We flew to Johannesburg where we rent a car. We drove to DAKTARI ourselves. It was a beautiful trip and, in the end, we even saw buffalo!
At Daktari, every volunteer works with the animals and give some lessons to the students. Every evening there is a meeting where the work and the lessons for the next day are planned. You do stabling, feeding the animals and cleaning up. The animals vary from smaller ones like mongoose, meerkat, owls, eagles, bush baby and dassies to bigger ones like ostrich, caracal, cheetah and wild dog. The subjects of the lessons are about the environment, renewable energy, knowledge of the animals but also about politeness, respect and job opportunities at a game reserve.
My sons helped with cleaning the enclosure of the cheetah "Martin". That was exciting! First, we had to lure the cheetah with a chicken to got him locked. It took a couple of minutes but eventually, it worked. And Then they could start cleaning the water and fill it up with fresh water agin.
The Tuesday we went to another school in the village where DAKTARI offers a special education program called "Eco-Club". The children coming there on voluntary. It is very special to see how eager the students are to learn. It was a lesson which took 2 hours without a break. And they were still focussing! In the Netherlands that age (15-17) not even have the focus for 1hour! I was impressed.
When we where at DAKTARI they had a baby buffalo and two baby sable antelope. Six times a day they get a bottle of warm milk. At 6 pm it was my turn and it was really dark. With my headlight, I got into the fence and the buffalo came immediately to me. He was pushing me forward to get along so he gets his milk. It was really funny! When he was drinking I had to say to myself: I am here in South Africa feeding a baby buffalo! It was great!
DAKTARI was a family experience we will never forget!
Thank you so much!
Every time a year, when the children are writing exams, DAKTARI manage a Job Hunting Program week. Usually, DAKTARI welcomes 8 students in the camp from Monday to Friday. But last week the Job Hunting Program was organized in the neighbouring village. Our outreach manager and her team welcomed four local youths looking for a job: Nico, Lucy, Dalene, and Ingrid.
This program focuses on giving these youth the skills they need to find a job. They had lessons on CV writing, cover letter writing, job interview skills, and using email to reach out to potential employers and following up on applications. Then, once a month, a workshop is organized in the village to follow up the students if they need more help.
For a week the students worked hard and have left the Job Hunting Program with a renewed hope of finding a job. We are confident that these hardworking individuals will soon be employed.