In August we welcomed a group of volunteers a little different from what we usually get. The Maurel Family came to visit DAKTARI and over the week they were with us they were nothing short of amazing! Even if the names of the children turned out impossible to say for the children (hence the nicknames in brackets!)! Below you can read the original testimonials from all the members of the family!
Fabrice and Cécile (Dad and Mum)
We lived an unforgettable experience at DAKTARI Bush School ! Our amazing hosts, Ian and Michele, and great volunteers were so kind with us ! Our entire family has been wonderfully well received (welcomed). Parents as children were immediately involved in all activities. To help with the education of great children and to take care for wild animals was an amazing and rewarding experience. We will never forget our hosts, all other volunteers, children and animals of DAKTARI Bush School. Thanks to all of you!
Marianne (Bobo), 14 years old
I spent only one week at DAKTARI, but it was so wonderful that I left in tears. Everything was perfect. We met very nice people who I will never forget. DAKTARI is just like South Africa: a beautiful place, unique in the world. That is why I want to thank all who were there and made this adventure amazing, especially Michele, Ian, Marta, Nathalie, Erica, Ernest, Manu, Toine, and also all the volunteers, Wellington, Thijs, Amy, Jodie, Julie, even Mirabelle and Nikita !
You can be sure that I will come back!
Baptiste (Baba), 12 years old
I had a brilliant time at DAKTARI : to take care of animals, meet other young people, walk in the bush, play cards and participate in daily tasks !
I feared not being authorised to participate in activities. But instead, I was busy all day with some great people and great animals. Thank you all !
Perrine (Bibi), 15 years old
I only spent one week at DAKTARI but if I could had made this experience last longer, I would have gladly done it ! We had a lot of fun with the other volunteers and children. The animals were just as amazing as the people. I really do hope I will come back one day !
Thank you to all of the members of the Maurel Family for being so amazing and sharing their experience with us! Hopefully we will see you again soon!!
"My stay at DAKTARI has been so rewarding. I particularly loved having the opportunity to teach. Not only do we educate children about the environment, we also show them how they have the ability to make a difference. The kids are wonderful and its been such a fulfilling experience to see how they improve throughout the week.
DAKTARI has such a welcoming atmosphere. It has been so great to meet other volunteers from around the world. My time here was short but full of exciting moments that I'll never forget."
Michelle just completed a degree in English and is moving on Teacher's College in Canada, where she is originally from. Thank you for your kind words Michelle, and hopefully we will see you again at DAKTARI!!
Pénélope and Claude came to DAKTARI with an amazing attitude and the willingness to make the best of their stay! Leaving their families in France, these two ladies set out on an adventure where they fit right in and actively took part in all activities with an unmatched enthusiasm and energy. Their sole worry before coming to DAKTARI was their level of English, but like with the rest of challenges they faced throughout their stay, it soon became evident that it was nothing to worry about!
They wrote a short text to sum up their experience:
'We spent two weeks at DAKTARI to realise our childhood dream. What a great moment to be immersed in the bush and share the daily life with children and animals!! There is a great ambience like in a 'big family'!! We really loved our stay, and we recommend it to everybody...
The "French Ladies",
Claude & Pénélope'
Honestly a real pleasure to have these awesome ladies stay with us! Thank you for everything Mademoiselles!
Marloes - Volunteer in March / April 2015
"I visited several countries as a tourist, which were all nice experiences, but I was looking for more. I really wanted to help people, not only by spending money in their country. Out of all the projects that were looking for volunteers, I chose Daktari. The combination of working with kids and animals is great. But Daktari earned my choice because of their tone of voice; positive and full of sincere love for the environment. At first I was really nervous about joining them as a volunteer. I did not have experience in teaching, working with kids, animals or travelling alone. These worries were not necessary at all. I was adapted in a group of very nice people and really felt at home. The staff even cooked me vegetarian meals. Fake meat in the bush; I did not expect that at all :)! I had never been so far from the civilized world. I had to get used to the peace and quiet. But after a few days I really appreciated it, even the digital detox cure :)! The set-up of the teaching programme is great. We have done so many things with the kids, which gave lots of energy. Finding the squirrel in the peanut butter, feeling the breath of the donkey in my neck during dinner and getting kicked of the couch by the warthog because I was sitting on his spot; Daktari is really a unique, peaceful and loveable place. The only thing that annoyed me during my two weeks stay was the sound of the owl. I said that I would rather hear the sounds of traffic. But as I am writing this experience on my roof in the noisy center of Rotterdam, I think that owl was not that bad ;). I have many good memories from my stay. Thank you very much for that Daktari, I wish you all the best in the future!"
To see the full interview Marloes did on GoAbroad.com about her experience at DAKTARI, click here!
Thank you Marloes for your kind words!
My experience as a long-term Volunteer at DAKTARI
« I will come back, Africa!! Be sure that, one day, I will travel again within all your beauties» was my last thought when I flew back to France, leaving behind me South Africa. Leaving behind?? Actually not really, I think South Africa will be always in my heart, from all I learnt, saw, discovered, experimented… By all the amazing people I met, children, volunteers, locals, Michele, Ian… And by all these crazy funny animals I had the chance to work with or contemplate during my trip.
Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. Anne-Sophie, 24, French, Marketing Manager at DAKTARI from April 2014 to March 2015, now flying towards new adventures!
How did I choose my volunteer experience?
I searched for months and months for a humanitarian mission or a volunteering experience. I wanted to travel after my studies, being involved in an environmental project where I could help the less fortunate than myself. But doing what exactly? Protecting the wildlife? Supporting the children? And where? In South America, Africa? So many questions and projects all over the world that it was difficult to choose one.
And one day, as if the entire universe just converged to guide me and light my path, the perfect opportunity just came to me. I found DAKTARI, an organization that works with underprivileged children AND injured animal, in the middle of the South African Bush, next to the Kruger Park! PERFECT!! I sent an email to Michele to come for 1 month. Her reply: “Dear Anne-Sophie, (…) I saw you just completed your study in Marketing (…), I am currently looking for a Marketing Manager here at DAKTARI, for 1 year (…), If you are interested send me your CV (…)”
From that moment to today, everything went very quickly and my life took a new turn.
3 flights. 20 hours of travel. 1 foot on the African Continent and my heart had found what it was looking for… DAKTARI. The bush. A new exciting home. New friends. A new team work. And I was ready for the most wonderful job ever!! The children’s smiles. The staff’s dance. The birds’ songs. The animals’ foolishness. The adventurous volunteers. Ian’s jokes and his crazy dirty stories. Michele, her dogs and her contagious funny attitude…
I will never forget all these beautiful adventures and meetings. Here is a sample of what is in my head when I think about DAKTARI: Face to face with Cachou (the Dassie) on my toilet while he was having a poo, a good morning!! Live with 6 little bush babies in my room. Work with a foolish squirrel which bites all the papers and a warthog who breaks everything. Released a pangolin into the wild. The “I LOVE YOUUUU” of the ostriches. Hear the hyena calling at night. And also the Lions (once)!! Scratching the porcupine under his arm. Holding a Python. The Boma fires under the stars with the children and the volunteers. But also… Discovering Shiloweni (the Leopard) dead in his enclosure. See a Black Mamba in the roof above my room. Take my shower with a frog and put Giraffe poo in my mouth (because it’s part of the tradition!).
Finally, how could I forget the breath-taking sunset of the Leopard Rock, the smell of the colourful flowers, the beauty of the green bush, the peaceful noisy sounds around… The list is unlimited and the words are missing to express what Africa is really like. You have to try it to know!! Give your time as a volunteer and you will see that you are not only helping and discovering others, but yourself…
For this unforgettable volunteer adventure and for making one of my childhood dreams come true (living in the bush surrounded by beauty and animals), I would like to say a huge and warm thank you to 2 great lovely people, Ian and Michele!! You are such wonderful people who put all their hearts into this worthy cause and it was an honour for me to work by your side. Thank you for this memorable lesson of life and all I have learnt thanks to you and DAKTARI! Keep going!
In this place I felt alive, free and strong!
Nathalie, Fundraiser Manager at DAKTARI, since august 2014
Nathalie has been interviewed by Go Overseas, one of our online volunteers agency. Click here to visit our page on their website.
What position do you hold at DAKTARI and why do you like working there?
Did you volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?
What does the future hold for DAKTARI - any exciting new programs to share?
What is one thing you would tell any future volunteer?
How do you think volunteer abroad will change over the next 10 years?
Laura Nardini, DAKTARI Volunteer 11/10/2014 - 15/11/2014
"I spent 5 weeks at DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage, an amazing program that allows volunteers to work with local children as much as wild animals. The perfect mix! Not only you teach the children about saving environment, animals and other matters, but you also learn about them and their way of life which is quite different from ours. It's very enriching, and I would say that you learn from them as much as they learn from you. You also work and live among the animals, and the arrival of a new one is always very exciting!
Volunteers also have the possibility to meet local people from the neighbor village, by spending a night within a family. A unique experience I highly recommend...
DAKTARI is a family size program. The day of your arrival you immediately meet all the people that work here, including the founders, and you quickly feel like at home. The relationship with other volunteers is great because everybody is very willing to help, and you can meet people of every ages and from every places of the world.
Finally, when you are volunteer at DAKTARI, I would say that you feel very useful and it is an experience you will never forget"
Bonjour à tous!
Après avoir vu le documentaire TV sur DAKTARI et être tombé par hasard sur le site internet quelques mois plus tard, j’ai décidé de contacter DAKTARI et de m’inscrire pour 1 mois d’eco-volontariat!! La réponse fut positive…
J’ai 61 ans, sportive et assez garçon manqué, veuve depuis 2 ans vivant seule et... je m'ennuie a mourir! Je m'envole donc pour Johannesburg. Après 6 heures de bus pour arriver à Hoedspruit, là m’attend le rangers Ian, qui me récupère avec d'autres volontaires. Une autre heure de route et de piste pour arriver au camp, accueil chaleureux, on s'installe et le lundi, levez 6 heures, on attaque!! Je m’aperçois vite que les journées sont biens remplies, avec un planning précis décidé entre les volontaires la veille au soir. Au programme: s'occuper des animaux, nettoyer les cages, préparer et distribuer la nourriture, donner les cours en anglais aux enfants… L’anglais est leur deuxième langue donc ce n’est pas toujours évident et il faut parfois s’armer de patience pour leur expliquer la leçon. Un autre point important: Préparer les cours en avance! C’est une bonne chose à faire quand, comme pour moi, parler anglais toute la journée n’est pas facile et que cela demande beaucoup de concentration et d’énergie. Il était bon de se reposer après de telles journées! De plus je suis entourée de jeunes de 20 à 40 ans de tous les coins du monde, il y a une super ambiance et tout le monde participe!
Quoi d’autres? On mange super bien, on se lave parfois à l'eau froide, l’électricité c’est que le matin et n’oubliez pas vos lampes de poche! Un petit détail important que j'ai particulièrement apprécié, les femmes de ménage passent tous les jours dans la chambre et la salle d’eau, prennent notre linge sale et nous le repose le lendemain lavé et repassé! C' est une expérience très enrichissante, on apprend pleins de choses, on rencontre des gens du quatre coins du monde.
Aux questions que l'on me pose: "mais tu payes pour faire cela?!" "Oui je paye! On paye notre pension et on fait un don pour les enfants et les animaux, c'est comme cela que le camp arrive a tenir!” Pour moi c'est une manière de découvrir le pays et sa population, le week-end on fait des excursions on essaye de s'impliquer plutôt que de se regarder le nombril, on est tous dans le même état d'esprit, on s’entraide... Les filles venaient me voir pour me demander des conseils à la fin et en plus on se marre, vous ne pouvez pas vous imaginer. Et du coup cela m'a fait rebondir, je repars pendant un mois faire un périple dans les pays d'Afrique du Sud, Namibie, Botswana, Zambie, Zimbabwe, cela m'a donné des ailes et j'ai pu montrer de quoi je suis capable. L'année prochaine je pars au Cambodge en mission pendant 2 mois.
Merci à Michelle, à son mari Ian et à son équipe, vous êtes toujours dans mes pensées!
Maxime Fradin - DAKTARI Volunteer 09/08/2014 - 29/08/2014
"Ce voyage restera à jamais gravé dans ma mémoire et mon coeur tellement l'Afrique du Sud est un pays merveilleux sur tous les points et que vous nous le faite découvrir de la plus belle des façons! Avoir des employés locaux permet aux volontaires d'être en contact avec la population et donc de découvrir leurs bons comme leurs mauvais côtés...
Ensuite les paysages, DAKTARI est placé entre montagnes, bush, et coins plus tropicaux grâce aux rivières avoisinantes. DAKTARI, crazy DAKTARI, est à la hauteur de ce que j'attendais par l'école et l'orphelinat mais aussi par vous, Ian et Michèle, qui êtes des personnes formidables. Vous n'hésitez pas à ouvrir grand vos bras afin qu'on découvre votre paradis! De votre humour à votre expérience en passant par votre générosité tout est à prendre et à s'en servir comme leçon de vie. Ne changez pas, vous rendez cette expérience sud africaine encore plus émouvante qu'elle ne l'est déjà!
Je vous souhaite une bonne continuation sur cette lancée, n'arrêtez surtout pas de rendre meilleure la vie des jeunes locaux et des animaux, mais aussi des volontaires! J'espère que ce n'était pas un adieu et qu'on aura l'occasion de se revoir par la suite.
Maxime Fradin alias Rafiki"
Anne Klein - DAKTARI Volunteer 15/02/2014 - 28/03/2014
"Dear Michele and Ian,
About 3 months have passed since Dasha and I had to leave and flicking through my huge bunch of pictures recently, I felt like I had to write you and say hello.
I am still incredibly grateful for every single moment I spent in South Africa, for every single laugh we had and every person I met (including you two insanely great people!!). While at DAKTARI I often thought "Man, I really want to remember every single bit of this" and I was afraid I wouldn't manage to. But now, looking back on everything from a distance, I feel that I actually do. I remember the smell of the bird bath after the porcupines jumped in and the sounds of the lovely ostriches. I remember Shiloweni's heavy breathing, Jacob's childishness, cheeky Cachou's bites and Mirabelles excited pre-dogwalk barking. I remember loud kids, lovely kids, annoying kids, grateful kids, "little shit" kids and kids that are enthusiastic about new things as no-one else can be. I remember waking up to water dripping on my face in the night, and monkeys running over the roof in the morning. I do remember Candy's singing, Hyenas' calling, bumpy rides in the back of the bucki, zebra rescues and a hundred other "hurry up"s. I think of the silence and beauty of a sunset on Leopard Rock, and of falling asleep to the sound of nearby lions. I remember your dirty jokes (and mind), Ian, your wonderfully infectious laugh, Michele, and I remember thinking that I probably never met people like you before, with hearts as big and minds as open as yours. All these things I remember so vividly, that looking at the pictures of the camp (including the one you find attached) I actually feel homesick. And you two are the ones to blame. Thank you for letting us participate in your life, for making us feel so at home in a place so far away from home. And thank you for everything you taught us - about ourselves, about life, about the wild (I really feel like a little ranger, when I watch Africa documentaries!!), about how to be a good person. I never had such a good time learning so much.
I do still miss you dearly (and I think Dasha does too) and am already saving up for the next trip.
See you very soon, you crazy, lovely, big-hearted, open-minded, funny, ambitious, perfect people!
Lots of love from Germany,