Having visited Daktari in 2005 (pictured below), here is what Mina wrote to us in February 2013:
My name is Mina, we met in 2005 while I was doing grade 9 at Rakgolokwana high school, my self and other students use to come to Daktari for educational purposes.
I wanna thank you for the knowledge and experience you have assist me with concerning nature conservation, I am currently working as a data collator with the K2C based at Hoedspruit, I have graduated for my diploma in nature conservation and currently doing btech degree.
I dont know how to thank you, because I started to acquire knowledge from Daktari, this place gave me a good background in terms of environmental knowledge and I really appreciate your effort as well as uncle Ian. I hope to visit you one day.
Janet Hickey, Daktari volunteer 03/08/2013 - 23/08/2013
Dear Michelle and Ian,
I just wanted to write a few words to thank you so much for the wonderful experience I had at Daktari recently.
I have been home a week now and I have had time to reflect on my visit to your wonderful home. And you truly made me feel 'at home' from the moment I arrived. I had a lovely welcome from Katrin at the airport and then a huge hug from Michele when I reached Daktari. I had been pretty nervous about my trip and all my worries disappeared when I started meeting everyone. Each and every volunteer was welcoming and friendly and went out of their way to make me feel welcome. Aby gave me a tour of Daktari and was so kind to me and was always, always there to sort any problems out with a big smile. Aby is an amazing, hard working, and fun loving lady!
The other volunteers all got on so well together and there was always laughter in the lapa and great fun to be had at the end of the day. There were a good variety of ages and nationalities and that's what added to the fun, so many different characters all together because of their love of children and animals and their desire to travel and experience new things. The long term volunteers like Helena, Kaleisha and Sebastien are just really special, they have so much patience with all of the short term volunteers, they have to constantly answer the same questions over and over and I don't know how they were so tolerant of us all lol! But we had great fun with the wolf game and the many card games and Sebastien makes such a wonderful magic story teller!
As for the ladies in the office, they are just hilarious and such fun. The sound of laughter from the office is a joy to hear. Especially Claire's wonderful laugh! I think they sum up the spirit of Daktari, happy, caring and hard working. Louise, Amy and Claire are wonderful girls and I will always remember them dancing at the bonfire.
Michele and Ian are in my opinion saints! To open up their home to so many people and give their lives over entirely to help educate the children through the medium of animals is just wonderful. Their love and passion for the animals, children of South Africa is evident in everything they do, the results of their hard work are evident too when you see the smiling faces of the children on Fridays and how they do not want to leave Daktari after their stay. You can also see how much they have learnt each week too by the results of the survey every Friday. Ian and his jokes and Michele and her big warm heart are very very special people.
So thank you Michele and Ian. I loved working with the children, hearing them laugh and seeing them meet the animals for the first time, especially watching their faces when Spikey appears at dinner time on Mondays...priceless. I loved meeting all the animals too and each and everyone of them is cared for with love too. All the staff, Senor, Jacob etc. are always smiling and singing, There aren't too many people in this world who look so happy at work. I love your country as well and the whole experience has touched me and enriched me and has been an unforgettable life experience.
Thank you with all my heart!
Grace's Success Story...
Grace first joined the Daktari Outreach Programme in 2012 after thoroughly enjoying her initial week at Daktari, she had recently moved from her home town in a big city to a small village after her father lost his job. Grace was brought up to speak English and Zulu but really struggled in her new home and school where they only spoke Sepedi. The school element was especially challenging for her as in order to pass any Grade the school stipulates that students must also pass in Sepedi language. This very bright and intelligent young girl was losing all hope and motivation for a promising future. With the help of Daktari and an appeal to our supporters we managed to enroll Grace at Southern Cross School in Hoedspruit, where the first language is English.
Grace is currently half way through Grade 10 and, although she had a lot of catching up to do at the beginning, is performing well. Her subjects are English, Afrikaans, Mathematics, Physical Science, Life Sciences, Visual Arts, Life Orientation. In the near future she will be passing Grade 10 (we hope!) and progressing into Grade 11 to continue her studies, long term she would like to be a Forensic Pathologist. Believe us, this girl definitely has the strength of character and confidence to make this happen!
Why are we are so proud of Grace?
Moving schools hasn't been easy for a 15 year old girl who has had to leave her family home and move in with other students so she can make the journey to school each day. Despite this she has continued to work hard and stay motivated, she already inspires young people from her village and the children she has left behind at the Outreach classes, especially the girls, to empower themselves and grab life's opportunities.
“I am getting used to the school environment and I have got a lot of people who care about me and support me. I am a very lucky girl to be able to enter into such a school and I am very thankful to Daktari for giving me the chance to fulfill my dream”.
Grace Mulumba - age 15
How can you help?
You can give another child the opportunity to experience 5 days of inspiring education at Daktari, where Grace's journey began. Each week we invite 8-10 children to Daktari where they have the opportunity to discover and become passionate about wildlife, conservation and through our Outreach Programme, find guidance into the the next stages of their lives and careers.
The cost of sponsoring one child is R 1,715 per week
If you would like to sponsor a child or a group of children please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kutullo's Success Story...
Kutullo first joined the Daktari Outreach Programme during 2012 after passing his Matric (Matric is the final examination of Secondary School/High School in South Africa). He demonstrated a passion and talent for conservation during the lessons and with the help of Daktari he received a bursary at the South African Wildlife College. After 4 months of hard work and studies he obtained his NQF Level 5 Environmental Education & Leadership Certificate and his NQF Level 2 Unarmed Field Ranger Certificate.
After passing and receiving his certificates, he went on to help with hands on practical work at the Khamai Reptile Centre in Hoedspruit for 3 months.
Kutullo was recently offered a 3 month internship as a Trainee Field Guide at a nearby nature reserve, where he will be gaining more practical experience in his new found career.
He now has to pass some final exams and pay for some compulsory licenses to be a fully fledged Professional Field Guide. After completing these final things he will be qualified and experienced enough to apply for paid work and start in his profession.
Why are we are so proud of Kutullo?
Kutullo is 22 years old and lives in Limpopo Province, one of the poorest areas in South Africa. Unemployment is very high, there are very little opportunities for young people and it's fair to say that life is pretty hard. Not only does Kutullo have the desire and motivation to improve his own life but he also wants to provide for his family and young daughter.
We are so proud of the hard work, commitment and enthusiasm that this young man has shown throughout the last year. He is an absolute pleasure to be around and we have no doubt that he will fulfill his dreams and do very well. He already inspires other young underprivileged children from his school and village and he will continue to set a good example for the next generation of South Africa.
“You have opened my eyes and gave me strength to wake up in the morning. Because of Daktari I know now who I am and what I would be in the future”.
Kutullo Shai – age 20
How can you help?
As with any poverish community, a lack of funding is often a major part (although not the only excuse!) in young people not achieving their dreams. Education, training and qualifications always come at a high price.
Kutullo has proven to us and our supporters that he is willing to learn and work hard, for this reason we continue to support him financially until he is qualified and ready to find paid work for himself. We are currently appealing on Global Giving for any donation, big or small, toward his last exams and compulsory licenses.
Please help Kutullo by clicking here
A letter that Kutullo wrote after his 3 months at the Khamai Reptile Centre: