Volunteering in Israel at the Desert Wildlife Program

Posted by: Deborah

Before I embarked on my GoEco adventure, I was living and working on a kibbutz near Gaza. I had no preconceived expectations of how GoEco ran their organization or how they treated their paying customers; I only had my kibbutz programme as a benchmark but I was excited to start volunteering at the Desert Wildlife project.

I must say, from day one, I was impressed not only with the orientation in Jerusalem but the unexpected next full day exploration trip in the city. I had been to Jerusalem before on my kibbutz experience but not in the way our “Mummy” aka Yan had offered it to us. I was overwhelmed by his genuine enthusiasm in his job and for the land of Israel. He showed us Jerusalem like we will never see it again with any paying tour; we saw the Jerusalem skyline change as we moved from roof terrace to roof terrace, along back alley ways and through hidden streets.

Being a massive animal lover I was very excited for what lay ahead on this project. At first I was a little apprehensive when I was greeted at the bus stop by one of the staff with a dead calf in the back of the car. I did question if I had picked the right project. Yan was very understanding and made me aware that if I didn’t feel comfortable with any part of it then I should let him know immediately. This reassured me. I suppose I never really thought about that side of this programme.

A week into the experience I got used to seeing dead animals as the predators needed to eat and that is the cycle of life at the end of the day. The team at the Desert Wildlife program is fantastic. The banter was brilliant and I felt very at ease with all of them straight away. I loved the fact that each member of staff injected their own love and passion for their work and that rubbed off onto the volunteers as well. The staff were very patient with us as volunteers and they would always try and make sure we were ok with the work we were assigned. If you weren’t, they made you feel relaxed enough to approach them if you wanted to change your job. Every day was a day of learning something new whether it was about an individual animal’s diet or how a specific species would live free in the wild.

I was happy to see that we were getting our hands dirty so to speak from day one. Our daily duties consisted of preparing food for the desert night life and cleaning the predator cages. The desert night life consisted of sand rats, bushy tails, sand cats, porcupines and turtles, etc.

The volunteer house was amazing as we were located at the end of the safari park. The drive to and from work was so magical as you would pass animals such as desert donkeys, ibex’s and ostriches and on your commute into the office. During my 6 weeks all the volunteers got on well with each other overall. I will never forget the view every morning when I would step outside; it took my breath away sometimes. Just living at the end of a safari park in the desert with the Jordanian mountains on one side of you and the Israeli desert landscape on the other was incredible. I will never live in such a rich area like that again. I learnt a lot about the simple things in life which I will keep with me always.

I would like to thank you for my experience and the memories that I will treasure from my time volunteering in Israel at the Desert Wildlife project.