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Volunteering in Zimbabwe – Living in an Animal Kingdom

Volunteer in Zimbabwe – African Wildlife Orphanage
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

What an incredibly eye opening but quick 4 weeks it has been. The day I arrived for the African Wildlife Orphanage project seems as if it was just yesterday. Being picked up at the airport not knowing what to expect. The place was foreign, everything was new. The sights, the smell, the weather, the people. I needed time to take it all in. I’m happy to say that I couldn’t have chosen a better place to spend my time.

A GoEco volunteer watches the Zimbabwe sunset
Watching the sunset on a trip to Matopos, Zimbabwe.

Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage gave me everything I wanted out of this experience. It’s a haven for all animals and it truly deserves to be applauded. The amount of work they do to help animals in need is extraordinary. No animal was ever turned down, no appointments had to be made, it was as simple as just dropping them off.

A GoEco volunteer feeds a baby steenbok
Here I’m feeding a baby steenbok, Valentine.

I’ve seen anywhere from a plover to a steenbok to an owl to a snake come through the doors of Chipangali. The variety is endless and the dedication to keep these animals alive is mind-blowing. I’m so fortunate to have been able to contribute a small part in the everyday lives of these animals at the orphanage.

GoEco volunteers care for baby tortoises
The volunteers and I were in charge of taking care of 14 baby tortoises!

Being home is a strange feeling. I’ve lived and breathed the orphanage for 4 straight weeks and so my life and purpose revolved around what was needed in Africa. I’m no longer in a cabin dodging insects on the floor or cringing in the shower as the cold water droplets hit my body. I’m no longer living with the most amazing people I’ve met from all over the world that will leave impressions on me that some never could.

A GoEco crew of volunteers
Here are the volunteers that I got extremely close to. We still talk everyday. We called ourselves “the crew”.

The thing that stings the most is no longer living in a huge animal playground, or should I say, kingdom. Where else would I be able to scratch the fur of a lion while then watching him devour his meal and soak up the blazing sun everyday?

A GoEco volunteer plays with Nkulu the lion
Nkulu, the lion, being goofy and adorable!

When will I be able to bottle feed a baby duiker wobbling around the Wilson’s dining room while struggling to gain her balance on her skinny, skittish legs? The opportunities to engage with wildlife are something out of this world. I’ll never forget the times I sat with Meg, the baby plover, and watched her progress and finally be able to feed on her own.

A GoEco volunteer cares for a baby plover
Holding a baby plover we got in. I named her Meg.

What I want most out of this post is for people to dream big and make a plan to fulfill those dreams – no matter how big or small they are. Life is too short to be contained to what society deems your path to be. The African Wildlife Orphanage has been an unbelievable journey and writing about it has been exceptionally rewarding. Who knows where I’ll end up next but I know for a fact I’ll have something up my sleeve soon. – Nicole

Get involved and begin the journey of your lifetime! Click here for more details about the African Wildlife Orphanage!

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