Volunteer in South Africa – Wildlife Sanctuary
Hartebeespoort, South Africa
Volunteering at the Wildlife Sanctuary was an experience far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. To me, what made the trip amazing was knowing that I was making a difference.
Upon my arrival, I was taken on a tour of the farm as the project leaders explained exactly why each animal was at the sanctuary. Knowing all of the animal’s backgrounds really made me feel close to them on the farm and motivated me to work even harder toward improving their lives.
The project leaders also always made sure each volunteer understood why they were doing the work that was done that day. Whether it was doing muscle conditioning with the big cats or building enclosures for the warthogs, I always knew the impact I was making. This gave my trip reason.
I was very surprised by one aspect of the trip; the friendships I made in such a short amount of time. I never knew it was possible to become so close with a group of people so quickly. I became friends with people from all over the world and learned so much about their countries and cultures, while also teaching about mine. I felt like I was part of a big family away from home, consisting of project leaders, volunteers, the Wildlife Sanctuary staff, anti-poachers and all of the animals. We made the hard work fun and the dirty work even more fun.
I have already made plans with four of the other volunteers I’ve met to go on another GoEco trip next summer. The people I met through this program will be my friends for life.
I cannot explain how happy I felt to wake up every morning in South Africa. I felt like I was home. Nothing could have taken the smile off my face while I was playing with a baby leopard, feeding giraffes, going on elephant and lion walks, helping strengthen the tiger’s muscles, hugging a zebra and meeting new friends. To say the least, Africa stole my heart.
The only regret I have about going on this trip was deciding to stay for 4 weeks. If I had the choice, I would have stayed for months. Africa—I will see you very soon. -Ali