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Tuesday, 20 February 2018 01:40

Mélissa Faugère - Volunteer January 2018

 

I volunteered at DAKTARI for three weeks and it was the most beautiful project of my young life. I had wanted to volunteer for a while but I was more interested in volunteering with animals rather than children. After three weeks at DAKTARI that completely changed and I was so happy to be able to spend so much time with such incredible children. 

 

Every week eight children from a local school come to spend one week with us to follow a teaching program and do educational activities. From Monday to Friday you could see how much they had changed. On Monday we helped the children to fill out a questionnaire with questions on several topics that will be discussed during the week with them. Usually on Monday they cannot answer the questions correctly. The same questionnaire is given to them on Friday and it is a joy for all the volunteers to see there has been a big improvement. During one of my weeks, the child I helped went from 4 out of 16 right on Monday to 14 out of 16 right on Friday! It is really amazing to observe the impact one can have on them and to realize that their future is in your hands. 

 

The best time of the week is Thursday night. We gather around a bonfire with the children and sing and dance all together. It is a beautiful moment to share with the volunteers and children.

 

In terms of the animals, it is just as wonderful. Each animal has its own story that has led it to DAKTARI. I loved being close to the animals, cleaning their enclosures, feeding them twice a day and cuddling the baby dassies! 

 

I could talk about my experience at DAKTARI for hours so I will thank all the volunteers and staff who I share my time with - it was lovely to meet you all. Leaving was the hardest thing but as DAKTARI says so well "Goodbyes are not forever, goodbyes are not the end, they simply mean I'll miss you until we meet again!" 

 

I'm already saving to go back! 

 

DAKTARI Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage aims to provide environmental and life-skills education to local children and stimulate community development. The below text outlines how our project aims further the sustainable development agenda. 

  

 1. No Poverty:
  • Improved education
  • Creating employment opportunities in the nearby area
  • Helping local youths find jobs
  • Promoting entrepreneurship
  • Access to technology 
 
 8. Decent Work and Economic   Growth: 
  • Teaching local youths the skills they need to find a job
  • Assist with work experience and training
  • Encouraging entrepreneurship 
 3. Good Health and Well-Being:
  • Education about HIV/AIDS and pregnancy 
  • The importance of clean water
  • Encouraging tree planting to improve air quality
  • Teaching respect to encourage healthy relationships
 
 11. Sustainable Cities and   Communities: 
  • Provide environmental education opportunities to local high-schools
  • Assisting in community improvement projects such as planting trees
  • Organizing clean-up days in the local community 
 4. Quality Education: 
  • Providing one-on-one teaching
  • Small class sizes
  • Learning to formulate your own opinion 
  • Reinforcing and building on existing education
  • Developing self-confidence
 
 12. Responsible Consumption and   Production: 
  • Teaching about water conservation
  • Adopting the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle 
  • Encouraging tree planting
  • Awareness of issues surrounding plastics
 5. Gender Equality: 
  • Learn about social issues such as respect 
  • Teach to respect all people regardless of their background
  • Program is accessible to all without discrimination 
 
 13. Climate Action: 
  • Learning about climate change and the social and environmental challenges
  • Encouraging individual action to prevent climate change
 6. Clean Water and Sanitation: 
  • Learn how to use a flushing toilet 
  • Importance of basic hygiene
  • Conduct water testing experiment to see if the water can sustain life 
 
 15. Life on Land: 
  • Teaching the economic importance of conserving the environment including plants, animals and water
  • Explaining the eco-tourism industry
 7. Affordable and Clean Energy: 
  • DAKTARI is run on solar power and we do our best to conserve energy
  • In the evening we use minimal lighting and turn off large appliances that use a lot of energy
 
 17. Partnerships for the Goals: 
  • Attending meetings with like-minded organizations so ideas can be shared and sustainable methods promoted

 

To sum up I would like to say that my time at DAKTARI was awesome!

I had my first volunteer experience at Daktari in September 2017. I was staying for nine long weeks. Before my arrival I was quite anxious and nervous because I did not know if I would like the place or the people. My worries completely disappeared as I was taken care of as soon as I stepped off the plane and into the green van and the airport and drove to Daktari, which is a one hour drive away from Hoedspruit. 

 

The welcome at Daktari was very warm and quelled my fear that these people will have no interest at making me feel at home. I was supported by the staff from the moment I arrived at Daktari until my departure in December. Never was anyone annoyed by any questions I asked and never did I feel like I was unwelcome or unwanted. 

 

Every week we welcome a group of eight students to teach about the environment and every week was unique because every group of children had their own dynamics. 

      

Every week we welcome a group of eight students to teach about the environment and every week was unique because every group of children had their own dynamics. Concerning the lessons, a big plus was that you do not have to teach every one of them. You can choose which classes you want to teach at the daily board meetings. Classes are usually taught by two volunteers, so you do not have to be afraid about having to do the classes alone without support. 

 

Even though I felt like my experience was very positive, there were a few things I disliked. That would be the fact that you do not have much privacy or the opportunity to wander outside of the camp due to the wild animals on the reserve. However, you do have the chance on going on tours on the weekend to see some of the local sites so do not worry about not being able to leave the Daktari camp during your stay.  

 

To sum up my experience, I would like to say that my time at Daktari was awesome! I had fun, great students and lovely baby animals to take care of. I do not regret spending nine weeks at Daktari and I would love to visit again. 

Wednesday, 31 January 2018 11:19

Akani Mtini

This week we had a wonderful child stay with us called Akani. She is 13 years old and comes from Maahlamele School in the Oaks Village. 

 

Akani was the only student in last weeks group to receive excellent feedback from the volunteers in all subjects during the week including English, Maths, Politeness & Respect and Animals & Nature. She was also a very talented storyteller and on her last night amazed the children, volunteers and staff by telling a beautiful story with so much courage and enthusiasm. 

 

Some of the children in her group had misbehaved when she was here and refused to sleep on several occasions. Akani responded to this by writing a letter of apology to DAKTARI once she returned home. In her letter she said "I had a very beautiful wonderful and marvelous week at DAKTARI, I cant wait to grow up and make my own game reserve where I can put my animals and make a hotel so that when people come they can sleep there." Below is her full letter. 

                    

 


"Dear Daktari Bush School, 

 

I know you are all fine so there's no need for me to greet you. First I want to tell you how much I love you all, I love you so much and I can't mention how I miss you. 

 

I just want to say thank you for the love that you gave me, respect, kindness, patience cant' mention what you taught me and inspires me to do. I had a very beautiful and marvelous week at Daktari I can't wait to grow up and make my own game reserve where I can put my animals and make a hotel so that when people come they can sleep there. 

 

I can feel you are surprised but don't worry I will come and donate at Daktari it will depend on how much money you want :) 

 

I wish I could reverse days at Daktari so that I could come back and have a good behavior. I have realized my behavior was bad and I'm really sorry for other things I have done wrong (I wish I was God so that I could reverse days :) ) So I'm not and I will never reverse days. I promise that if I go to other reserves I will behave because I learn a lot from Daktari. 

 

You know what Daktari volunteers keep up the good work, respect, kindness, love and know your worth to keep on QUEENING. I miss you guys I really really miss you. 

 

From your loved one, 

Akani Mtini"  

 

Thursday, 18 January 2018 00:26

Renovations!

The last few weeks have been very busy at our camp as we have started to update some of our animal enclosures. Our animal team have been working hard to improve parts of the camp. They recently finished the rabbit enclosure and did an incredible job giving them a brand new home. The improvements included: 

  • Expanding the size of the enclosure 
  • Replacing the mesh roof with tiles
  • Creating a place to store hay 
  • Building a house for them to shelter in
  • Replacing the fencing and adding another door 

They are now working on the dassie enclosure! Although it is still a work in progress, the improvements will include: 

  • New mesh on the front of the enclosure 
  • Stones surrounding the enclosure 
  • A place to store hay 
  • Integrating more natural aspects such as wood, water and hay 

Once the dassie enclosure is complete there are plans to renovate the meerkat, mongoose and caracal enclosures. We hope to report many more improvements in the coming months! 

Tuesday, 09 January 2018 18:19

New Year Update

Happy 2018! Here at DAKTARI we are very excited to start the New Year. Firstly, we want to say a big thank you to everyone who donated to our End of Year Giving campaign. We raised $8120, surpassing our goal of $5000 by $3120! This is a wonderful way to enter 2018 and we are grateful for your tremendous support. 

 

We have been closed for four weeks over the holiday period, giving us time and space to refurbish parts of the camp. Thanks to the hard work of our staff, the entire camp has been painted and some of the animal enclosures have been updated. This was possible due to the generous paint donation we received from Powafix. 

 

In addition to refurbishments, we have been very busy keeping our animals fed and comfortable and preparing for the year ahead. Over the holidays, we have welcomed a number of new arrivals to the camp including four new squirrels and a little chick named Chiquito.

 

This past weekend we welcomed our first volunteer of 2018, who is already a mum to a baby squirrel. It was found the day she arrived and requires round the clock care as it has yet to open its eyes.

 

We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of our new volunteers over the weekend and the start of our job-hunting students on Monday!

 

 

Saturday, 16 December 2017 00:31

Thank You!

Today marks the last day of our teaching program before we close for the holidays! 

 

It has been a very busy year for DAKTARI. We have welcomed over 342 children to our teaching program and 43 young adults into our Job Hunting Program! 

 

We have also accomplished a lot in the Wildlife Orphanage. We successfully released 12 animals into the wild: 4 squirrels, 1 brown snake eagle, 3 jackals (unfortunately two returned) and 6 mongooses. 

 

All of this could not be achieved without the help and support from our wonderful volunteers. We are pleased to say that this has been our busiest year yet with 131 volunteers dedicating their time and efforts to DAKTARI. 

 

Although there have been some challenges we are so grateful for everything we were able to achieve this year and are very excited for the year ahead. 

 

Thank you all for your continued encouragement, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

 

Tuesday, 05 December 2017 17:13

Welcome Marina

DAKTARI is lucky enough to welcome Marina, our new animal assistant! Marina is joining us from France where she previously worked as a zookeeper at Biotropica Zoo in Normandy. She is staying with us for six months and will help our Animal Manager Nodia with the care and welfare of DAKTARI's animals

 

Marina has dreamed of coming to Africa since she was young and always wanted to do some volunteering. She is particularly excited to work at DAKTARI because there is a lot she feels she can change and improve. Additionally, she is looking forward to learning about new cultures and what it means to live in the bush! 

 

She has had a busy first week which has involved de-worming the rabbits and collecting and settling in a new meerkat. 

 

We are very excited to have you at DAKTARI Marina and we hope you have a great time here in the coming months! 

 

Friday, 24 November 2017 07:02

Two New Mongooses!

 

A few weeks ago DAKTARI acquired two new mongooses. In September we released a troop of six banded mongooses back into the wild. They had been at DAKTARI for over a year, giving them time to bond and form an established troop. 

 

We had two remaining mongooses at DAKTARI, Jackson and Tuti, and were aware that we would not be able to release them until they have established a troop. Banded mongooses are highly social animals and much of their survival in the wild relies on them working as a team. 

 

A few weeks ago, the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center brought two banded mongooses to DAKTARI. They are both around eight months old and we hope that in time they will get well acquainted with Jackson and Tuti so they can be released back into the wild together. 

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