My experience as a long-term Volunteer at DAKTARI
« I will come back, Africa!! Be sure that, one day, I will travel again within all your beauties» was my last thought when I flew back to France, leaving behind me South Africa. Leaving behind?? Actually not really, I think South Africa will be always in my heart, from all I learnt, saw, discovered, experimented… By all the amazing people I met, children, volunteers, locals, Michele, Ian… And by all these crazy funny animals I had the chance to work with or contemplate during my trip.
Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. Anne-Sophie, 24, French, Marketing Manager at DAKTARI from April 2014 to March 2015, now flying towards new adventures!
How did I choose my volunteer experience?
I searched for months and months for a humanitarian mission or a volunteering experience. I wanted to travel after my studies, being involved in an environmental project where I could help the less fortunate than myself. But doing what exactly? Protecting the wildlife? Supporting the children? And where? In South America, Africa? So many questions and projects all over the world that it was difficult to choose one.
And one day, as if the entire universe just converged to guide me and light my path, the perfect opportunity just came to me. I found DAKTARI, an organization that works with underprivileged children AND injured animal, in the middle of the South African Bush, next to the Kruger Park! PERFECT!! I sent an email to Michele to come for 1 month. Her reply: “Dear Anne-Sophie, (…) I saw you just completed your study in Marketing (…), I am currently looking for a Marketing Manager here at DAKTARI, for 1 year (…), If you are interested send me your CV (…)”
From that moment to today, everything went very quickly and my life took a new turn.
3 flights. 20 hours of travel. 1 foot on the African Continent and my heart had found what it was looking for… DAKTARI. The bush. A new exciting home. New friends. A new team work. And I was ready for the most wonderful job ever!! The children’s smiles. The staff’s dance. The birds’ songs. The animals’ foolishness. The adventurous volunteers. Ian’s jokes and his crazy dirty stories. Michele, her dogs and her contagious funny attitude…
I will never forget all these beautiful adventures and meetings. Here is a sample of what is in my head when I think about DAKTARI: Face to face with Cachou (the Dassie) on my toilet while he was having a poo, a good morning!! Live with 6 little bush babies in my room. Work with a foolish squirrel which bites all the papers and a warthog who breaks everything. Released a pangolin into the wild. The “I LOVE YOUUUU” of the ostriches. Hear the hyena calling at night. And also the Lions (once)!! Scratching the porcupine under his arm. Holding a Python. The Boma fires under the stars with the children and the volunteers. But also… Discovering Shiloweni (the Leopard) dead in his enclosure. See a Black Mamba in the roof above my room. Take my shower with a frog and put Giraffe poo in my mouth (because it’s part of the tradition!).
Finally, how could I forget the breath-taking sunset of the Leopard Rock, the smell of the colourful flowers, the beauty of the green bush, the peaceful noisy sounds around… The list is unlimited and the words are missing to express what Africa is really like. You have to try it to know!! Give your time as a volunteer and you will see that you are not only helping and discovering others, but yourself…
For this unforgettable volunteer adventure and for making one of my childhood dreams come true (living in the bush surrounded by beauty and animals), I would like to say a huge and warm thank you to 2 great lovely people, Ian and Michele!! You are such wonderful people who put all their hearts into this worthy cause and it was an honour for me to work by your side. Thank you for this memorable lesson of life and all I have learnt thanks to you and DAKTARI! Keep going!
In this place I felt alive, free and strong!
Let’s celebrate World Water Day with DAKTARI Bush School!
On Sunday 22th of March 2015, the planet celebrates water on Earth! Water is a gift of life, a gift that everyone has to honour and care about. Yet today, about 750 million people lack access to safe water and about 2.5 billion people don’t have access to improved sanitation*.
For this upcoming special day, Temesho, 14 tell us about his story with water. Temesho lives in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. In his village there is no safe tap water or proper sanitation. The option? Walk everyday, sometimes for hours, carrying laundry to the only free source of water around: the river. “The river is full of paper and all things”, Temesho tell us, but “me and my family we need water to drink”. The water from the river is used for ordinary house tasks like cleaning, cooking, washing and most of it, drinking. The conclusion, the locals are forced to pollute more and more of the river with chemical cleaning products and put their lives and those of the animals in danger.
On World Water Day this year, DAKTARI, through the eyes of this little boy, would like to pass the message that education can save lives and protect the environment! We have to educate the underprivileged children about the importance of drinking safe water and not to pollute the river. Also, we have to make people everywhere understand the seriousness of water conservation. Realise today and everyday, the water that you use is a gift and not something that should ever be taken for granted.
A story of water, with Temesho
Do not waste water and close your tap. Reduce your consumption of water. Teach your children to use water in a good way.
*Resources: World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP). (2014). Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation, 2014 Update.
I am Manu, the new marketing volunteer at DAKTARI! I arrived at the camp about a week ago and after spending the week working with the kids and the animals as a standard volunteer, I can safely say that I have fallen in love with the project already. But now, it is time to get to work!
Firstly, a little bit about myself. I was born in Spain but have moved around the world a few times. Before coming to South Africa I did my Bachelor in the UK and moved to Switzerland where my family is located for the moment. I graduated with a degree in Law and Management, but, with the aim of doing something more fulfilling, I decided to look for a project that would allow me to travel and discover a new place while working with both animals and mainly kids. That's when I found DAKTARI!
I can't wait to get started, and with all the support from Anne Sophie and the rest of the team I am sure its going to be an amazing experience!
Thank you all for your continued support to this amazing project! Maybe we'll see each other soon :)
Source: FastFACTS – February 2015 – Issue 282
Institute of Race Relations
South Africa Education Profile
The good news is that the proportion of South Africans aged 20 and above with no schooling declined from 11.6% in 2002 to 5.5% in 2013.
The proportion of those with matric increased from 29.8% to 38.8%. (read more)
General: The banded mongoose is a sturdy mongoose with a large head, small ears, short, muscular limbs and a long tail, almost as long as the rest of the body. The Banded Mongoose is not an endangered species, the development of agriculture in the continent has had a positive influence on their numbers as crops of the farmland serve as an extra food source.
Interesting fact: Mongoose are highly social, living in packs of about a dozen, typically up to about 30. Packs sleep together and forage in loose groups, each mongoose obtaining its own food. Groups live in home ranges which may be territories, as meetings between groups are aggressive. Each home range contains several dens which are used in rotation for a few days at a time.
Pilou, the little tiny girl
Personal history: Pilou has been found by a neighbour in her garden. After it was obvious she was abandoned by her family, she took this little tiny mongoose and call DAKTARI to take care of her. Pilou arrived in February 2015, at 3 weeks old. She looks very friendly and curious to discover the world. In a few months when she will be ready and strong enough, she will join Jackson and Leon, our two others Banded Mongooses.
Would you like to sponsor Pilou?
Jackson and Leon
Personal history: A lady from Tzaneen found Jackson (picture on the left) in January 2015 alone in her garden. Quite friendly and tame, we think that this male Banded Mongoose was hand raised by humans and maybe escaped. He was very happy to find Leon and those two seem very good together.
Leon (picture on the right) arrived at DAKTARI a few years ago with a brain disease. Indeed, he just turns around in circles all the time. It was too risky to release him with the others 11 Banded Mongoose into the wild and Leon stayed at DAKTARI. Little by little, new lonely mongooses arrive in the camp and Leon appreciates the company! Soon, we will organise another rehabilitation project, with the long term goal being a release of them into the wild.
Would you like to sponsor Jackson and Leon?
A film by Gareth Kaatze
This is the story of Marupi, a young child passionate about the beauty and the animals of South Africa. He lives close to the famous Kruger Park, but does not have the chance to experience it. From a far-away village in Limpopo, Marupi does not have access to the water, lives surrounded by rubbish and tries to find some space in the overcrowded classroom.
One day, he found the perfect place for his dream to come true. It is a bush school and a wildlife orphanage, which inspired and educated him about the environment and conservation. He learnt to take care of the animals, to protect the planet and respect others.
Marupi came back to his village, proud and grown up, with the desire to share with others what he learnt to make South Africa a better place…
Behind the Scene
10 days of filming to meet, understand, discover the life of the local underprivileged children. In their classroom, village, surroundings, we followed Marupi and his incredible story. A little boy like no other, who loves animals and nature. He was so happy to come for a week at DAKTARI and learn more about his passion for the environment. So many precious and funny moments remain in our minds during the filming... You have to know that, with the animals, it is not always easy to control everything! :)
Gareth Kaatze, a young South African movie maker, passionate about nature and conservation projects, gives us the right tone for our cause through the video. Original, non-conventional, funny and heart-warming, this is the kind of story that DAKTARI spreads everyday and that Gareth knew how to reveal to the world through the lens of his camera.
THANK YOU Gareth!
Thank you Ingrid and TravelMagSA for their lovely article in their magazine! TravelMagSA is a digital diversion of Lifestyle and Leisure Travel Magazine. You can visit their website at: www.topbiz.co.za
"A meerkat that inevitably started to bite. A mongoose that turned out to be not such a great pet. A Verraux Eagle whose wing had to be amputated because it flew into a pow- er line. A blind donkey found aimlessly wandering around Phalaborwa. The list goes on. All the animals at DAKTARI have a story to tell, their fates sealed by human ignorance and relentless en- croachment, and then altered by human kindness. Some will live out their days in captivity but many of DAKTARI’s animals have been rehabilitated and returned to the wild. All the animals, whether they stay or are prepared to be released, are part of a unique educational system that helps teach rural children about the importance of respect and kindness to animals and the conservation of our planet. Small successes perhaps on the scale of the damage being done by people to our planet, but at DAKTARI I became convinced that without these small successes we would all be lost, if not doomed. DAKTARI inspired me to feel hope, and what is more important than hope? (read more...)
... And your money!
- Orphaned animals and underprivileged children need your love this Valentines Day.
- They both deserve your loving attention without delay.
- You spend most of your time with your partner, guaranteed ups and downs.
- Why not give something to these children and animals and receive no frowns.
- A contribution from your big loving heart.
- Is just what they need in life to get a head start.
- Support this worthy cause, come on now Honey. ;-)
- LOVE is all we need... And your money!