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"

Monday, 20 October 2014 09:24

Corinne Le Greves

Bonjour à tous!

Après avoir vu le documentaire TV sur DAKTARI et être tombé par hasard sur le site internet quelques mois plus tard, j’ai décidé de contacter DAKTARI et de m’inscrire pour 1 mois d’eco-volontariat!! La réponse fut positive…

J’ai 61 ans, sportive et assez garçon manqué, veuve depuis 2 ans vivant seule et... je m'ennuie a mourir! Je m'envole donc pour Johannesburg. Après 6 heures de bus pour arriver à Hoedspruit, là m’attend le rangers Ian, qui me récupère avec d'autres volontaires. Une autre heure de route et de piste pour arriver au camp, accueil chaleureux, on s'installe et le lundi, levez 6 heures, on attaque!! Je m’aperçois vite que les journées sont biens remplies, avec un planning précis décidé entre les volontaires la veille au soir. Au programme: s'occuper des animaux, nettoyer les cages, préparer et distribuer la nourriture, donner les cours en anglais aux enfants… L’anglais est leur deuxième langue donc ce n’est pas toujours évident et il faut parfois s’armer de patience pour leur expliquer la leçon. Un autre point important: Préparer les cours en avance! C’est une bonne chose à faire quand, comme pour moi, parler anglais toute la journée n’est pas facile et que cela demande beaucoup de concentration et d’énergie. Il était bon de se reposer après de telles journées! De plus je suis entourée de jeunes de 20 à 40 ans de tous les coins du monde, il y a une super ambiance et tout le monde participe!

Quoi d’autres? On mange super bien, on se lave parfois à l'eau froide, l’électricité c’est que le matin et n’oubliez pas vos lampes de poche! Un petit détail important que j'ai particulièrement apprécié, les femmes de ménage passent tous les jours dans la chambre et la salle d’eau, prennent notre linge sale et nous le repose le lendemain lavé et repassé! C' est une expérience très enrichissante, on apprend pleins de choses, on rencontre des gens du quatre coins du monde.

Aux questions que l'on me pose: "mais tu payes pour faire cela?!" "Oui je paye! On paye notre pension et on fait un don pour les enfants et les animaux, c'est comme cela que le camp arrive a tenir!” Pour moi c'est une manière de découvrir le pays et sa population, le week-end on fait des excursions on essaye de s'impliquer plutôt que de se regarder le nombril, on est tous dans le même état d'esprit, on s’entraide... Les filles venaient me voir pour me demander des conseils à la fin et en plus on se marre, vous ne pouvez pas vous imaginer. Et du coup cela m'a fait rebondir, je repars pendant un mois faire un périple dans les pays d'Afrique du Sud, Namibie, Botswana, Zambie, Zimbabwe, cela m'a donné des ailes et j'ai pu montrer de quoi je suis capable. L'année prochaine je pars au Cambodge en mission pendant 2 mois.

Merci à Michelle, à son mari Ian et à son équipe, vous êtes toujours dans mes pensées!

Corinne.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014 15:57

Maxime Fradin

Maxime Fradin - DAKTARI Volunteer 09/08/2014 - 29/08/2014

"Ce voyage restera à jamais gravé dans ma mémoire et mon coeur tellement l'Afrique du Sud est un pays merveilleux sur tous les points et que vous nous le faite découvrir de la plus belle des façons! Avoir des employés locaux permet aux volontaires d'être en contact avec la population et donc de découvrir leurs bons comme leurs mauvais côtés...

Ensuite les paysages, DAKTARI est placé entre montagnes, bush, et coins plus tropicaux grâce aux rivières avoisinantes. DAKTARI, crazy DAKTARI, est à la hauteur de ce que j'attendais par l'école et l'orphelinat mais aussi par vous, Ian et Michèle, qui êtes des personnes formidables. Vous n'hésitez pas à ouvrir grand vos bras afin qu'on découvre votre paradis! De votre humour à votre expérience en passant par votre générosité tout est à prendre et à s'en servir comme leçon de vie. Ne changez pas, vous rendez cette expérience sud africaine encore plus émouvante qu'elle ne l'est déjà!

Je vous souhaite une bonne continuation sur cette lancée, n'arrêtez surtout pas de rendre meilleure la vie des jeunes locaux et des animaux, mais aussi des volontaires! J'espère que ce n'était pas un adieu et qu'on aura l'occasion de se revoir par la suite.

Maxime Fradin alias Rafiki"

 

Thursday, 10 July 2014 16:17

Anne Klein

Anne Klein - DAKTARI Volunteer 15/02/2014 - 28/03/2014

"Dear Michele and Ian,

About 3 months have passed since Dasha and I had to leave and flicking through my huge bunch of pictures recently, I felt like I had to write you and say hello.

I am still incredibly grateful for every single moment I spent in South Africa, for every single laugh we had and every person I met (including you two insanely great people!!). While at DAKTARI I often thought "Man, I really want to remember every single bit of this" and I was afraid I wouldn't manage to. But now, looking back on everything from a distance, I feel that I actually do. I remember the smell of the bird bath after the porcupines jumped in and the sounds of the lovely ostriches. I remember Shiloweni's heavy breathing, Jacob's childishness, cheeky Cachou's bites and Mirabelles excited pre-dogwalk barking. I remember loud kids, lovely kids, annoying kids, grateful kids, "little shit" kids and kids that are enthusiastic about new things as no-one else can be. I remember waking up to water dripping on my face in the night, and monkeys running over the roof in the morning. I do remember Candy's singing, Hyenas' calling, bumpy rides in the back of the bucki, zebra rescues and a hundred other "hurry up"s. I think of the silence and beauty of a sunset on Leopard Rock, and of falling asleep to the sound of nearby lions. I remember your dirty jokes (and mind), Ian, your wonderfully infectious laugh, Michele, and I remember thinking that I probably never met people like you before, with hearts as big and minds as open as yours. All these things I remember so vividly, that looking at the pictures of the camp (including the one you find attached) I actually feel homesick. And you two are the ones to blame. Thank you for letting us participate in your life, for making us feel so at home in a place so far away from home. And thank you for everything you taught us - about ourselves, about life, about the wild (I really feel like a little ranger, when I watch Africa documentaries!!), about how to be a good person. I never had such a good time learning so much.

I do still miss you dearly (and I think Dasha does too) and am already saving up for the next trip.

See you very soon, you crazy, lovely, big-hearted, open-minded, funny, ambitious, perfect people!

Lots of love from Germany,

Anne"

Wednesday, 13 November 2013 10:09

Cécile Le Gal

Cécile Le Gal, Daktari Volunteer 05/10/2013 - 11/10/2013

I volunteered just for one week in Daktari which is really too short, but in one week it seems to me that I learned a lot.

First I learned about animals and how some people are able to love animals like human beings, or maybe more. I like animals, but  never before did I think how someone can respect and love all animals so much. It seems that animals give back this love to this kind of people. After one week I was still a little afraid by some of them, but i’m sure that if I had stayed little longer I wouldn’t be anymore…

I also really enjoyed the contact with these very shy but very enthusiastic animals, volunteers and children coming there to learn more about their country and the environment, i’m sure it’s gonna help them for the future.

Last thing I really enjoyed is the team of Daktari, very available, always someone to help or to talk if you have any question or needs…

I think I learned a lot about animals, about people and most of all about me, which is always good. My only regret: a too short stay! I will come back again, be sure  ;-) !

A big thanks for all the Daktari Bush School team, and see you,

Cécile.

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