Thursday, 17 October 2013 11:59

Barbro and Kjell Asplund

Barbro and Kjell Asplund, Daktari volunteers 20/10/2012 - 09/11/2012

We had a wonderful time, three weeks, at Daktari last year. Michele, Ian, the staff and the other volunteers made us feel at home from the moment we arrived. It was so nice to be working with the children. They really enjoyed their time at Daktari. Michele and Ian! What a wonderful work you do. We know that many children are so grateful and will remember Daktari for ever. Their education will be useful in the future.

Among the volunteers we met people in variety of ages and nationalities. Together we had a lot of fun as music, games in the evenings.

Everything at Daktari was so nice, our room was comfortable and we got a lot of service. The staff was lovely. They always took care of everything with a big smile.

Our stay at Daktari has enriched our lives and sometimes we long to go back.

It is a privilege to visit such a beautiful country as South Africa too.

Best regards

Barbro and Kjell

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 19:06

Sinclair Smith

Sinclair Smith, Daktari volunteer 30/04/2011 - 27/05/2011

I spent 2011's month of May at Daktari.

Wild life, Humanity, Adventure.

Imagine.

After landing in one of South Africa's main airports, you take another plane (believe it or not this one is a propeller aircraft). You can feel every little vibration and mini-turbulence , if you are not used to flying, it can quickly become an adrenaline trip. Eventually, you land. You are about to see for the first time the last bastion of civilisation: Hoedspruit. Once all the luggage recovered (or not haha) you will be heading towards the Kruger Park in a typical mini-van. If you are attentive enough you might see some road signs you probably won't find anywhere else.

One of the main ingredients of Daktari's beauty is your fellow companions: I had the chance to meet an "interesting" swiss guy, a (what a surprise) huge Deutschman and some of the finest female specimens coming from the United-States, Scotland, England, Germany...

Then comes the trip in the bush, the first encounters with wild life (even a part of the Big Five if you're lucky enough). Now, the team, the "cadre", the explanations...for you won't have as much luxury as you have at home. (running water, electricity etc.) Each and everyday is a succession of discoveries, laughter (big up to Mr Porcupine) and enjoyment.

You will be able to take care of a multitude of creatures, from the meerkats to the leopard, from the tortoise to the rats...and all this with the help of the youngsters from the nearby schools...English, Mathematics, Geography, Sexual Education, singing and dancing around the fire...meeting and sharing. You will learn from them as much as they do from you.

The hardest part is when the end of the week arrives and you have to say goodbye.

I would like to say a huge "Thank you" to Michele and Ian for I did not take the opportunity before.

Sinclair Smith

P.S and some more thanks to Thabo, and the whole team!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 18:44

Katrien Vermeulen

Katrien Vermeulen, Daktari volunteer 15/09/2012 - 27/09/2013

What can I say about Daktari?

It will be very difficult to keep it short for me, but will start to say that it was absolutely amazing!! My name is Katrien Vermeulen from Belgium and I stayed at Daktari for exactly 1 year. I fell in love with so many animals, met beautiful people and saw a positive program that helps the local underprivileged children. The owners Ian & Michele Merrifield have dedicated their life to this project which I admire so much.

I can only say to future volunteers, funders and friends, if you love animals and would like to help the local community, then Daktari in South Africa is the place to be! Daktari Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage will always have a place in my heart.

Katrien.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 18:30

Gillian Kenneally

Gillian Kenneally, Daktari Volunteer, repeat visitor!

Well, I so enjoyed my time at Daktari that I came again and again and again…looking after animals "amazing", teaching the children "challenging" and the scenery "magnificent" - add to this, a friendly and peaceful environment. In short a wonderful volunteering experience - you'll love it!

Gillie

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 13:03

Gemma Annan

Gemma Annan, GVI intern volunteer 06/05/2011 - 17/06/2011

I volunteered at Daktari for 6 weeks in 2011 and I absolutely fell in love with the project and the people that run it. I was in South Africa for a total of 9 months on that trip and my 6 weeks at Daktari hold some of my most precious memories. Caring for rescued injured wildlife and teaching local children about the importance of wildlife was an incredible opportunity. During my time at Daktari I was lucky to assist on taking 10 of the local children to Kruger Park on a day trip offered by Daktari as a reward to 10 of the hardest workers to be on project. The trip was one I will always treasure; I remember jumping out of my seat when we saw a wild cheetah and all the children wanted to see was a lion! The children learned a lot from seeing their local wildlife in the flesh as realistically they do not have the opportunity to visit such places; if not for Daktari who knows if they'd ever see wild cheetah, elephants or ostrich?!

My other great experiences include; creating enrichment's for the mongoose and meerkats, listening to wild jackals and owls in bed, and getting up extra early some mornings to 'run' around the small park surrounding the base with 2 of my closest friends on project.

The experience given to me at Daktari has helped me go on to become a base manager on an elephant rehabilitation project in Thailand;  it gave me leadership and teaching skills as well as increasing my wildlife and tracking knowledge. If Daktari offered paid positions I'd be fighting to work there, the atmosphere and family vibe made me feel welcome and appreciated. I'd urge anyone wanting to gain some wildlife or teaching experience or who just wants to make a difference to give it a go!

Gemma Annan
Volunteer placement on the GVI internship May 2011

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 14:34

Jeanne Lazarevic

Jeanne Lazarevic, Daktari Volunteer 09/03/2013 - 22/03/2013

Daktari! What marvelous souvenirs! There is no crossed eyed lion like on TV at the time of my childhood, but Daktari is an unforgettable experience.

Daktari was my first volunteer trip, in March 2013. Michèle, Ian and their team have welcomed me warmly and I immediately felt very good, in a kind of nice smiling family. I have appreciated meeting other volunteers from different countries; I have been filled with emotion by children who are happy to learn and to understand. I was feeling alive, happy, serene, walking in the bush, taking care of animals, especially with meerkats, marmosets and the bush pig. There is also a beautiful leopard and a lot of other animals. Everything is very well organized, comfortable, meals are excellent. Days are very busy, everyone makes the most of himself, but it is so pleasant that you do not feel that you are working.

You learn a lot about this African life and about yourself too. It is a kind of rebirth: you are transformed, your mind changes, you have new ideas, you sense life differently, you are fully here, now, as a part of the world and something softly tickles your heart.

Once your stay is finished, you just want one thing: go back to Daktari! Change your life and feel fulfilled being useful to nature and to humankind.

Furthermore, all around the area, there are many beautiful places to visit during the week ends: the Kruger Park and the big 5, the Blyde River Canyon mind-blowing landscapes, the walking safaris accompanied by a cheetah, and many other places and activities to discover and enjoy.

But for me, my best souvenirs are the children’s eyes shining of satisfaction and happiness once they have understood the lesson, marmosets and meerkats hugs, the evening meetings to discuss about the day, Michèle’s heart laugh, Ian’s very good jokes and also the sleep beneath millions of stars at the Kruger Park.

In short, it is “all in one”: tourism, beauty, friendship, altruism, harmony, learning or reminding of life essentials and a lot of love. Do not hesitate! Go to Daktari!

I have been there and today, my life is really changing. It has been a wonderful experience which made me decide to leave my “robot” office job in France and start a new heart life dedicated to nature and children.

Well done, Michèle, Ian and your team for this marvelous project you have built with heart and courage! Thank you for the happiness and love you are spreading all around you, not only for animals and children, but also for foreign volunteers like me that discover an essential component of sheer happiness.

THANK YOU. I miss you very much…

Jeanne

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