Daktari was a great experience - from getting to know the animals to learning to cook pap and helping out in the eco club at Maahlamele school. But while caring for ailing animals is good and coming up with enrichment ideas is fun, it was the educational aspect that attracted me and that left the most lasting impression.
I've done a number of volunteer placements focused on wildlife research, protection and rehabilitation, but this one was special because you could see the visible difference in the kids even after just a few days of getting attention with their maths and English, being engaged in conversations and being challenged to think through their role in the social and natural environment. It's not always easy and there are hiccups, but it's such an amazing experience to see them get up on the rock by the pool to get their completion certificate - sometimes maybe the first time their efforts have been acknowledged formally.
It's astonishing that they live an hour from Kruger Park but have never been and most don't really appreciate the diversity of flora and fauna at their doorstep or why it's important to protect it.
It's amazing what Michelle and Ian have accomplished and that Daktari keeps moving forward so there are new graduates of the eco clubs and the one week program that are moving forward in life along the path Daktari showed them. It's an inspiring blueprint for bringing together education, wildlife conservation and giving a helping hand to under-privileged children.