I would love to talk about my experience volunteering in Zimbabwe with the Wildlife Orphanage. I had booked for a three months placement. I was met at the airport by the lady of the family, Nicky and was housed in a cute little brick cabin by myself as requested. It had a bed and a dresser which was enough. The bathrooms were about 50 feet away.
There were all kinds of snakes and poisonous frogs and plants everywhere….my first glance at everything and I’m thinking to myself, omigoodness what did I get myself into for so long!
There were 6 other volunteers there… all younger except for a married couple, but nice.
The kitchen and eating place took a bit of getting used to. It just happened to be at the end of the rainy season so it was wet and miserable for two weeks straight… no raincoat or boots made working pretty miserable… nothing to dry clothes with… I was again wondering if I would make the full 3 months.
Our day started at 7am with making our own breakfast. We would meet with all the staff at 8 for the day’s work which would continue until 4 or 5. We were assigned different jobs with different staff and animals every day. We had baby monkeys which were so cute, but bratty; we took turns bottle feeding and playing with them as well as a little dyker and springbok.
We cleaned cages, mucked out lion enclosures, cut fruit, and hauled branches for the antelope. We had tea break at the house at 9:30, lunch for an hr at noon, and supper at 6… where we were all glued to our internet for hrs! We could either have baby time for an hr in the late morning, which meant hands on visiting with the baby monkeys, antelope, a lovely little serval called Prince, a lioness, or a sweet little jackal called Jackie.
Everynight I would make my rounds to see all the animals. I would listen to the lions roar and play with the leopards that all got to recognize my squeaky voice and came running to the fence to lick me.
I also had a favorite Bateleur eagle I named Harry, with only one wing, who was always up for a scratch on the head every time I went past.
The sun came out finally, it was beautiful and I made friends with the staff… everyone was wonderful.
For the next two months I ended up painting murals of all the animals and cartoons on every wall, with another young volunteer from Australia with whom I became good friends and still keep in contact.
For me my proudest moment was to look back and see how much we brightened up the sanctuary with our paintings, and it was so much fun!
I’ll never forget all the awesome friends I made… and the wonderful side trips we took to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe Ruins, Matopas, and the safari as well. Everyday with the animals and people was a learning experience, I enjoyed every minute of it… loved the animals to death and when I win the lottery I will go back and build them all some awesome enclosures as money is so hard to come by there.
To be honest I started crying the day before I left… and didn’t stop until I got home.
Africa gets in your heart and never leaves. This was my third time volunteering in Africa and there will most definitely be so many more!