I chose this program because it offered me the amazing opportunity to combine teaching and volunteering with animals. The programs social media and online reviews gave a realistic idea of what to expect. In addition, unlike a lot of other programs, they stated clearly what my money contribution would be used for. It just felt like the right program for me.
Bente is a student living in Utrecht, The Netherlands. She graduated from high school in 2018 and has taken a gap year to do travelling. After working two jobs simultaneously for half a year to save up money, she chose to go volunteer in South Africa.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
I applied through Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage’s online site myself without the assistance of any travel agency. This meant I had to organise my own flights. To apply to the program, I had to provide Daktari with my international travel or medical insurance details. In addition to that, I got vaccinated to prevent diseases.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
First of all... JUST DO IT! You have nothing to lose. It will be one of the best adventures of your life with memories that will stick with you forever.
Secondly, don’t go for just one week. By staying longer, you will be able to improve your teaching skills and you will have time in the weekend to do awesome excursions.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Monday through Friday you will be teaching a group of eight kids, aged 12-16, about their own environment and important life skills. These lessons include helping the children with chores that need to be done to keep the animals at Daktari happy and healthy. Volunteers also have the opportunity to get involved with the local community by teaching at Eco-Club. A voluntary after school club at two schools in the neighbourhood.
In the weekends, you have time off to go to Hoedspruit or go on an excursion.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was not feeling at home and not being able to connect with other volunteers. I overcame these fears quickly. During my layover at Johannesburg airport, a man approached. Awkwardly, he asked me “Are you going to Daktari?”. Friendships are so easily made. With so many different people there’s never a dull moment.