Volunteering in South Africa – Home Away From Home

Posted by: Bridie

As we were driving up the bumpy track to the Wildlife Sanctuary project, I couldn’t help feeling a bit nervous. We got there on a Friday, and starting work on Saturday morning gave us time to explore a little on our own and introduce ourselves to the other volunteers. My nerves quickly subsided when I realized how absolutely amazing everyone was.

Throughout our time there we got to sign up for elephants walks that truly took your breath away.

We also got to do enrichment exercises with the three lionesses as well as the two young tigers Pi and Jasmine. This is when I realized how much of a unique opportunity I was being given.There are chances for different excursions given at least once a week as well as African night where some locals get you up and teach you African dances. Every Wednesday is Bonfire night where everyone comes round the fire with music, drinks and marshmallows. Some of the work was quite challenging but you work with a great bunch of people who keep morale up so makes it enjoyable regardless. (Can I add, whoever decides who gets hired is doing a fantastic job!)

What I would have given to be able to stay for longer and I feel truly lucky to have had the opportunity to go and would encourage anyone to do the same whether with friends or alone. I honestly met some of the best people ever and left with many invitations to visit people around the world which I intend to take them up on. I have also created good friends from the ages of 16 to 55, which really shows the inclusivity of this project.

It sounds cliché, but I really think the Wildlife Sanctuary project has allowed me to see myself more clearly. A year ago I’d never imagine myself catching two planes totaling 13 hours to a place where I didn’t know anyone and I’m so proud and happy that I did. I also never thought I’d be hugging an elephant, truly awe-inspiring experiences.