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I saw rhinos and cave paintings and had the chance to visit a village, where I met an 82-year-old chief that told me the tale of fighting a leopard that was eating his livestock. His stories were incredible and followed shortly by a dance performance by the children of the village. I could not write about this day with enough detail to do it justice, but believe me when I say it was one of the most memorable days of my life!
Our day started at 7am with making our own breakfast. We would meet with all the staff at 8 for the day’s work which would continue until 4 or 5. We were assigned different jobs with different staff and animals every day. We had baby monkeys which were so cute, but bratty; we took turns bottle feeding and playing with them as well as a little dyker and springbok.
Typical days at the African Wildlife Ranch aren’t typical at all. Each day provided for a new opportunity to help improve the lives of the animals at the ranch. Whether it was assisting with cleaning enclosures each morning, preparing food for various animals, providing enrichment to one of the many wonderful animals, building and preparing enrichment opportunities or assisting with project work, there was always something new to keep you focused on.
Working in Thailand was one of the best experiences of my life. The children were so incredibly sweet and eager to learn. The younger children barely knew any English so we had to find ways to communicate with them through pictures and hand motions. After this experience, I really think anyone can learn to be a teacher!
I was in the clinic most days (there were many holidays during my stay so sometimes the clinic was closed). In the clinic there were different stations that I was able to choose from. Some days I was in the baby weighing station, others in the wound dressing room or even in the maternity ward if a woman was in labor.
When I arrived in Cape Town, I was positively surprised by how welcoming not only the staff but also the volunteers were. I had no problems at all finding new friends and engaging with everybody around. The average age was about 21, even though there were exceptions with ages ranging up to 65! I was immediately briefed on the project and on what to expect from it and never felt lost at all.
"This is roughly how every day at the orphanage went, each one with little quirks and quiet achievements. I remember how amazing it felt to watch the kids learning and growing, even in such a short space of time while I was there – hearing them say my name, words I had taught them, singing songs I had sung to them or games I had taught them. I began to get to know and love the personalities of each of them, it was so gorgeous
During the second week I volunteered at the orphanage where I played with children aged from 2 to 5. The children there were happy to see you and wanted to play with you. A lot of them wanted to learn English so in order to achieve that they would point at different things and smiled when you told them what it was.
Hard work pays off, and this doesn’t go unnoticed by the amazing crew. I managed to go onto an exclusive boat trip which had less clients on board, giving me more opportunities to capture some great footage of the sharks who displayed incredible activity, breaching around six times in the space of two hours.
Volunteering with GoEco on the Great White Shark Conservation Program has been a most rewarding experience! Being able to go out on the ocean almost every day, seeing Great Whites 20cms from your face, and helping manage a commercial shark cage diving vessel is possibly the most exciting thing I have ever done!
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