"My stay at DAKTARI has been so rewarding. I particularly loved having the opportunity to teach. Not only do we educate children about the environment, we also show them how they have the ability to make a difference. The kids are wonderful and its been such a fulfilling experience to see how they improve throughout the week. 

DAKTARI has such a welcoming atmosphere. It has been so great to meet other volunteers from around the world. My time here was short but full of exciting moments that I'll never forget.

 

Michelle just completed a degree in English and is moving on Teacher's College in Canada, where she is originally from. Thank you for your kind words Michelle, and hopefully we will see you again at DAKTARI!! 

Pénélope and Claude came to DAKTARI with an amazing attitude and the willingness to make the best of their stay! Leaving their families in France, these two ladies set out on an adventure where they fit right in and actively took part in all activities with an unmatched enthusiasm and energy. Their sole worry before coming to DAKTARI was their level of English, but like with the rest of challenges they faced throughout their stay, it soon became evident that it was nothing to worry about!

They wrote a short text to sum up their experience:

'We spent two weeks at DAKTARI to realise our childhood dream. What a great moment to be immersed in the bush and share the daily life with children and animals!! There is a great ambience like in a 'big family'!! We really loved our stay, and we recommend it to everybody...

The "French Ladies",

Claude & Pénélope

Honestly a real pleasure to have these awesome ladies stay with us! Thank you for everything Mademoiselles! 

Sunday, 19 April 2015 04:45

Marloes de Vries

Marloes - Volunteer in March / April 2015

"I visited several countries as a tourist, which were all nice experiences, but I was looking for more. I really wanted to help people, not only by spending money in their country. Out of all the projects that were looking for volunteers, I chose Daktari. The combination of working with kids and animals is great. But Daktari earned my choice because of their tone of voice; positive and full of sincere love for the environment. At first I was really nervous about joining them as a volunteer. I did not have experience in teaching, working with kids, animals or travelling alone. These worries were not necessary at all. I was adapted in a group of very nice people and really felt at home. The staff even cooked me vegetarian meals. Fake meat in the bush; I did not expect that at all :)! I had never been so far from the civilized world. I had to get used to the peace and quiet. But after a few days I really appreciated it, even the digital detox cure :)! The set-up of the teaching programme is great. We have done so many things with the kids, which gave lots of energy. Finding the squirrel in the peanut butter, feeling the breath of the donkey in my neck during dinner and getting kicked of the couch by the warthog because I was sitting on his spot; Daktari is really a unique, peaceful and loveable place. The only thing that annoyed me during my two weeks stay was the sound of the owl. I said that I would rather hear the sounds of traffic. But as I am writing this experience on my roof in the noisy center of Rotterdam, I think that owl was not that bad ;). I have many good memories from my stay. Thank you very much for that Daktari, I wish you all the best in the future!"

To see the full interview Marloes did  on GoAbroad.com about her experience at DAKTARI, click here!

Thank you Marloes for your kind words! 


 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015 18:07

Working for an NGO in South Africa

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.

Blyde River Canyon

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.

Lion in the Kruger Park

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…

   Working for an NGO in South Africa  Cooking Pap in South Africa  

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!

THANK YOU!

Anne-So

Nathalie, Fundraiser Manager at DAKTARI, since august 2014

Nathalie has been interviewed by Go Overseas, one of our online volunteers agency. Click here to visit our page on their website.

What position do you hold at DAKTARI and why do you like working there?

Nathalie: I am currently the Fundraising Manager at DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage. I first came to volunteer at DAKTARI 5 years ago! I came for 6 weeks, it was my first volunteering experience and it is hard to find the words to describe the amazing time I had back then. I came back to France and never forgot about my time at DAKTARI. I decided to help and support them from France by participating in a fundraising contest and was one of the winners. This made me really happy to keep supporting DAKTARI from so far. 

Thinking about my experience here very regularly, I decided to come back in 2013 for a couple of weeks. As I knew that I was more confident, I wanted to make an even stronger impact in volunteering here by teaching the children and taking care of the orphaned animals. At the end of my stay, The co-founder and I decided I could come back for a long term volunteering (1 year) and take a position with more responsibilities. I came back in March 2014, first as a Volunteer Coordinator and since August 2014, as the Fundraising Manager.

Working at this position is wonderful and teaching me so much as it is very challenging and there is not one day like another. So I am now doing a interesting and challenging job in a dream place, surrounded by wild animals and volunteers from all over the world! What a once in a life time opportunity! 

Did you volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Nathalie: Apart from volunteering at DAKTARI in 2010, I did one other volunteer program. It was also in South Africa on more of a conservation project. I stayed there for 8 weeks. I have always been taking part of helping association in my country. I took part in associations supporting homeless people, people with HIV and oldery people. Giving some of my time for underprivileged people has always been something important for me.

I feel privileged in my life and want to give some of this privilege to others. Therefore being part of a humanity project has always been something I did for others, but also for me. Its so rewarding to be able to put a smile on someones face and give a bit of time without worrying about the next day. 

With this in my heart, I decided to link it with one of my favorite hobby: travels! Therefore I decided to volunteer and give some of my time and heart to people abroad. South Africa was not a specific choice but I wanted to be in touch with animals and children. DAKTARI was the perfect combination. 

What does the future hold for DAKTARI - any exciting new programs to share?

Nathalie: There is nothing like a routine at DAKTARI! The project is now soon entering its 10th year anniversary and since the start it has been a non stop evolution. In 2011, DAKTARI started a new project within its main activity called the Outreach Program. The Outreach program is about complementing the work done at DAKTARI. Through it, we are helping and supporting the local community in different ways. 

For instance, we go to two different schools each week to keep a link with the children who came to DAKTARI and want to always learn more. We also help locals who are looking for a working placement in their process. But one of our big projects at the moment is "The Recycling Project". Last year we started a recycling project at the Oaks, a nearby DAKTARI underprivileged village, in order to get the place clean and welcoming. 

The objective of DAKTARI is to work closely with the Municipality and, step by step, to make it a Eco Tourist village. We want to make the place welcoming, in order to create jobs and to invite the tourist to discover their heritage and culture. This is a long term project and quiet challenging and exiting

What is one thing you would tell any future volunteer?

Nathalie: I would definitely say...do not hesitate anymore! Sometimes it might be a big step to actually make the decision but it is not possible to regret it! Volunteering abroad is so rewarding and make people grow up in their world vision and life so much quicker! It is almost impossible to come back and not have learned something about others or about yourself. 

The only thing you must ask yourself before you choose a project is why I want to go? What do I want to get out of my experience? Am I ready to try to go over my small fears? If the answers are yes, then your motivation will do the rest! 

How do you think volunteer abroad will change over the next 10 years?

Nathalie: I believe that the abroad volunteering industry will grow more and more as it is now something considered as normal in most European countries to take some time off to get this kind of experience. In most cases it is actually even considered as being courageous and able to take initiatives. 

However I believe that the industry must be careful to not use this tendency and develop projects just to attract volunteers. It is for me quite important to always make sure of the right impact that the project will have on the society or the environment. It is very good to give people the opportunity to support and help the ones in need but the priority must be given to the impact and benefits of the community.

Thursday, 20 November 2014 13:16

Laura NARDINI

Laura Nardini, DAKTARI Volunteer 11/10/2014 - 15/11/2014

"I spent 5 weeks at DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage, an amazing program that allows volunteers to work with local children as much as wild animals. The perfect mix! Not only you teach the children about saving environment, animals and other matters, but you also learn about them and their way of life which is quite different from ours. It's very enriching, and I would say that you learn from them as much as they learn from you. You also work and live among the animals, and the arrival of a new one is always very exciting!

Volunteers also have the possibility to meet local people from the neighbor village, by spending a night within a family. A unique experience I highly recommend...

DAKTARI is a family size program. The day of your arrival you immediately meet all the people that work here, including the founders, and you quickly feel like at home. The relationship with other volunteers is great because everybody is very willing to help, and you can meet people of every ages and from every places of the world.

Finally, when you are volunteer at DAKTARI, I would say that you feel very useful and it is an experience you will never forget"

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