Tuesday, 12 November 2013 16:19

Camille Sautter

 Camille Sautter, Daktari Volunteer 20/07/2013 - 16/08/2013

If you want to live an amazing, adventurous, exciting and moving experience you can find all of this in Daktari.

My month there was unforgettable; I learn't how to take care and love animals (and it was not that evident for me when I came), how to build an eagle cage or create a nice plant tub! But most of all, I met wonderful, open-minded and kind people; children, staff and volunteers.

I have so many great moments in mind that is difficult to choose one to tell you…But one of the best was seeing the kids getting really interested while we were giving lessons or having fun with the games (such as the pictionary game).

I promise, you would love it, at least as much as me.

Camille

 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013 16:02

Monica Filkova

Monica Filkova, Daktari Volunteer 28/07/2012 - 11/08/2012

Daktari was a great experience - from getting to know the animals to learning to cook pap and helping out in the eco-club at the school. But while caring for ailing animals is good and coming up with enrichment ideas is fun, it was the educational aspect that attracted me and that left the most lasting impression.

I’ve done a number of volunteer placements focused on wildlife research, protection or rehabilitation, but this one was special because you could see a visible difference in the kids even after just a few days of getting attention with their maths and English, being engaged in conversations and being challenged to think through their role in the social and natural environment. It’s not always easy and there are hiccups, but it’s such an amazing experience to see them get up on the rock by the pool to get their completion certificate - sometimes maybe the first time their efforts have been acknowledged formally.

It’s astonishing that they live an hour from Kruger Park but have never been and most don’t really appreciate the diversity of flora and fauna at their doorstep or why it is important to protect it.

It’s amazing what Michelle and Ian have accomplished and that Daktari keeps moving forward so there are now graduates of the eco-clubs and the one-week program that are moving forward in life along the path Daktari showed them. It’s an inspiring blueprint for bringing together education, wildlife conservation and giving a helping hand to under-privileged children.

Regards, Monica.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013 13:51

Tim Marriott

Tim Marriott, Daktari Volunteer, Repeat Visitor!

I first went to Daktari for four months in 2010. The main reason for going was to satisfy my ambition for a placement working with animals, both to care for the sick and orphaned that are looked after there and also to learn more about the wild animals that surround the project, in the beautiful and unique bush environment that borders the Kruger Park.

Other than the animals, the main aim of the project is to educate the under-privileged local children that live in the nearby villages who have not had the chance to learn about their natural heritage and the respect that the environment they live in deserves. I was amazed how much helping these children had an impact on me, having never been drawn to teaching beforehand. In turn it was incredible to see the impact we had on them, after a five day programme where they had the pleasure of spending time in the bush and the opportunity of working alongside international volunteers and the wonderful staff at Daktari. The smiles on their faces as they said goodbye and the hope that they held in their hearts after what they had gained from the experience, whether it be a minor thing or something more substantial, makes Daktari truly unique in its priceless quest.

Michele and Ian, who established the foundation, are absolute diamonds and are two of the most amazing, caring and hardworking committed people I have ever met, and who I can, I hope, now call friends.

I have since been back in 2011 and 2012 (and will continue to do so when finances allow), where I was pleased to see how any donations needed and gratefully received have led to many improvements, and likewise thrilled to get the same sense of soul and aspiration that I received from the project during my first experience. I am absolutely certain that Daktari will have a special place in my heart forever.

Tim Marriott.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013 11:38

Maud Metayer

Maud Metayer, Daktari Volunteer 2011

I spent 3 weeks at Daktari during the year 2011 and I will always remember it! I had a great time there and I met wonderful persons from different countries all around the world. During the morning we used to clean the cages of animals, give them food and take care of them. Kids were coming with us. After breakfast and dog walking it was time for class where we had a lot of interesting time with the kids...we also had fun during swimming pool party or playing cards or others games...it was wonderful when we walked in the bush and specialy during sunset. I saw many different species of animals and my wish today would be to come back to daktari...

Thank you Michele, thank you Ian for your hospitality and your kindness,

Maud Metayer.

Monday, 28 October 2013 13:43

Danielle Austin

Danielle Austin, Daktari Volunteer 24/08/2013 - 08/09/2013

My adventure started with a fundraiser. I stumbled upon Daktari’s website by chance about a year ago. I was doing research for a class assignment and somehow ended up reading about the organization for several hours. I thought it would be an exciting opportunity, but didn’t have the time or money to travel. However, I continued to visit the website every few months to read the newsletters. I was going to make a donation on Christmas when I saw they were hosting a fundraising contest. The grand prize was three free volunteer weeks and two nights in a luxurious game lodge. It was like fate telling me to go to South Africa. Or at least that’s what I told myself when I entered the fundraiser a few weeks later.

I ended up raising € 2, 462 and, even though I didn’t win, the owners Ian & Michele Merrifield offered to let me come volunteer at Daktari for two weeks and arranged one week with Wildlife Vet Peter Rogers.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived at Daktari seven months later. I had been in contact with Michele all summer and read everything I could about Daktari and South Africa, but nothing I read or imagined even came close to the amazing people I met and experiences I had.

The moment I stepped off the plane in Hoedspruit I was greeted with a warm welcome. The kindness continued to pour in, not only from the other volunteers and staff members but from the children as well.

I was initially drawn to Daktari because of my love for animals, but I left with a passion to teach. Don’t get me wrong, the animals were amazing, but the children were incredible. They always had smiles on their faces and were so eager to learn new things. I’ll never forget reading a thank you letter I received from a group of students after my first week there. It was absolutely amazing to see just how much this experience meant to them.

Ian and Michele have put their heart and soul into this program — and it shows. I’ve never met two people who are more genuine and dedicated to making South Africa a better place. Both the children and volunteers learn so much during their time there. The opportunity to see and interact with such wonderful wild animals is icing on the cake. I returned to the United States with a new outlook on life and will always be thankful for the time I was able to spend at Daktari. I would do it all again in a heartbeat — even the 16-hour plane ride.

If you are looking for an organization to volunteer with or donate to, I couldn’t think of a place more deserving than Daktari.

Sincerely,

Danielle Austin

Thursday, 17 October 2013 14:21

Lizzy Garland

Lizzy Garland, Daktari Volunteer 27/10/12  - 17/11/2012

When I was initially deciding to volunteer in South Africa I knew two things about the experience I was looking for. 1. I wanted to work with animals and 2. I wanted to work with students. After a lot of research on different organisations I came across Daktari and knew immediately this was exactly what I had been looking for.

Before traveling to South Africa I held an event to raise money directly for Daktari. I also setup an online account which I encouraged friends and family to donate towards which I used to assist in paying for volunteer fees. Every little bit raised went straight to Daktari and it was an incredible way for me to share what I was about to do with the people around me. If you are looking for a place that feels like home, working alongside incredible people in a beautiful environment set up by two of the most generous and kind people you will ever meet, you have found the right place.

Despite having only spent a few short weeks at Daktari, it was an experience I will always cherish dearly. I would highly recommend Daktari to anyone who wants to learn more about wildlife and who wants to help the community. Believe me when I say it was truly an incredible adventure that I will never forget.

Thank you to everyone who I met at Daktari, in particular the wonderful Michele and Ian!

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