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.
"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.
Working at the Thailand orphanage 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!
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.
It was such a rewarding project to be involved in, as at the end of each day, I could see the nests that I had protected, and know that I had done my part towards saving the turtles, and saving the planet. One of the staff members who was supervising us said, “the best feeling on earth is saving a life that can never repay you”. Helping to save those turtles made me see the truth behind these words.
Everything is really well organized and straightforward. There are three shifts. Two at night and one in the morning and obviously, you will never get more than one shift per day. The night shifts involve walking along the beach looking for turtles and waiting for them to nest. If they nest you get to watch them lay eggs and help measure and tag them. It’s honestly an amazing experience because it’s something so different and unique. The morning patrols consist of writing down all the turtle tracks and finding nests to help secure them.
I am so glad that I went on this trip, and I highly recommend a volunteer trip of some sort to everyone. I also highly recommend doing it alone. Even though I had wished I had someone with me during the first few days, I’m glad I didn’t now because I got to meet so many amazing people and I got to make new friends that I probably wouldn’t have made if I had gone with a friend or family member.
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