What position do you hold at DAKTARI and why do you like working there?
I am currently the Fundraising Manager at DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage. I first came to volunteer at DAKTARI 5 years ago! I came for 6 weeks, it was my first volunteering experience and it is hard to find the words to describe the amazing time I had back then. I came back to France and never forgot about my time at DAKTARI. I decided to help and support them from France by participating in a fundraising contest and was one of the winners. This made me really happy to keep supporting DAKTARI from so far.
Thinking about my experience here very regularly, I decided to come back in 2013 for a couple of weeks. As I knew that I was more confident, I wanted to make an even stronger impact in volunteering here by teaching the children and taking care of the orphaned animals. At the end of my stay, The co-founder and I decided I could come back for a long term volunteering (1 year) and take a position with more responsibilities. I came back in March 2014, first as a Volunteer Coordinator and since August 2014, as the Fundraising Manager.
Working at this position is wonderful and teaching me so much as it is very challenging and there is not one day like another. So I am now doing a interesting and challenging job in a dream place, surrounded by wild animals and volunteers from all over the world! What a once in a life time opportunity!
Did you volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Apart from volunteering at DAKTARI in 2010, I did one other volunteer program. It was also in South Africa on more of a conservation project. I stayed there for 8 weeks. I have always been taking part of helping association in my country. I took part in associations supporting homeless people, people with HIV and oldery people. Giving some of my time for underprivileged people has always been something important for me.
I feel privileged in my life and want to give some of this privilege to others. Therefore being part of a humanity project has always been something I did for others, but also for me. Its so rewarding to be able to put a smile on someones face and give a bit of time without worrying about the next day.
With this in my heart, I decided to link it with one of my favorite hobby: travels! Therefore I decided to volunteer and give some of my time and heart to people abroad. South Africa was not a specific choice but I wanted to be in touch with animals and children. DAKTARI was the perfect combination.
What does the future hold for DAKTARI - any exciting new programs to share?
There is nothing like a routine at DAKTARI! The project is now soon entering its 10th year anniversary and since the start it has been a non stop evolution. In 2011, DAKTARI started a new project within its main activity called the Outreach Program. The Outreach program is about complementing the work done at DAKTARI. Through it, we are helping and supporting the local community in different ways.
For instance, we go to two different schools each week to keep a link with the children who came to DAKTARI and want to always learn more. We also help locals who are looking for a working placement in their process. But one of our big projects at the moment is "The Recycling Project”. Last year we started a recycling project at the Oaks, a nearby DAKTARI underprivileged village, in order to get the place clean and welcoming.
The objective of DAKTARI is to work closely with the Municipality and, step by step, to make it a Eco Tourist village. We want to make the place welcoming, in order to create jobs and to invite the tourist to discover their heritage and culture. This is a long term project and quiet challenging and exiting.
What is one thing you would tell any future volunteer?
I would definitely say…do not hesitate anymore! Sometimes it might be a big step to actually make the decision but it is not possible to regret it! Volunteering abroad is so rewarding and make people grow up in their world vision and life so much quicker! It is almost impossible to come back and not have learned something about others or about yourself.
The only thing you must ask yourself before you choose a project is why I want to go? What do I want to get out of my experience? Am I ready to try to go over my small fears? If the answers are yes, then your motivation will do the rest!
How do you think volunteer abroad will change over the next 10 years?
I believe that the abroad volunteering industry will grow more and more as it is now something considered as normal in most European countries to take some time off to get this kind of experience. In most cases it is actually even considered as being courageous and able to take initiatives.
However I believe that the industry must be careful to not use this tendency and develop projects just to attract volunteers. It is for me quite important to always make sure of the right impact that the project will have on the society or the environment. It is very good to give people the opportunity to support and help the ones in need but the priority must be given to the impact and benefits of the community.