Volunteer Reviews her time in South Africa

My Volunteer Experience in South Africa

So I arrived to start my new position as a volunteer in South Africa, having been picked up at Pretoria airport by the sanctuary manager, blissfully unaware of what the week was going to entail. There were six other volunteers working on a shift system when I arrived. The plan of action to get the monkeys fed and cared for every day. If we weren’t there to do it, no-one else would.

My first shift I was given food prep and observation. I was glued to the monkeys and realised that some of them knew what I was going to do before I did it. I made loads of friends in my first week, and with the other volunteers too!

I learnt so much and hadn’t realised quite what an experience it would be. The monkeys were so sweet and loved a cuddle and to play. It was quite easy to spend a whole afternoon with the monkeys rather than taking the afternoon break.

The highlights of my two weeks apart from the monkeys was the evening barbecue and the weekend trip to Kruger Park. I arrived home full of enthusiasm to get back to being a South Africa Volunteer and can’t wait. Thanks to everyone at Original Volunteers for all their help in creating this experience.

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Louise Hawkins South Africa

Why did you want to volunteer?

I wanted to work with animals and travel, meet new people and experience Africa.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?

I feel we helped out a lot yes.

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What did you do for fun?

We played games most nights where everyone got involved, that was fun! Also, there was a pool next door where we were allowed to go so went there on our days off to sunbathe. The ‘work’ we did was fun, playing with monkeys isn’t hard! There’s also a bar next door where drinks were cheap so we’d all go there often. There are different types of safaris, we did one that cost around £30 (travel included) which was amazing! Also a shopping centre nearby which has an internet café and there are some good shops – a shop like primark! There is an airport about 30 minutes away which we used to fly to Cape Town for a few days, an incredible place that I would recommend anyone doing this project to visit.

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When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?

Playing with the monkeys was so much fun, they are very entertaining and had lots of fun. The most enjoyable experience I had in South Africa was in Cape Town when we went to Robben Island, it’s such an interesting place! When we went to the safari, we saw an elephant. The park ranger told us to be really quiet and not to startle it. The elephant then crouched down and went to sleep – something the ranger had never seen, he was astonished that it put itself in such a vulnerable position when we were only about ten metres away from it. I turned on my camera and it made a loud noise, it does this every time it’s turned on but I forgot this! The elephant jumped up and started coming towards us. Me and three other young girls were terrified! The ranger told us to stay still and not make any noises – it’s not easy to stay still when in an open top car and an elephant is angry with you! It then gave the car a warning stomp so the ranger slowly moved the car up the road, he said he didn’t want to move away completely because the elephants hadn’t lived there long and he had to stand his ground and make them know we’re not scared of them. A few minutes later, another elephant appeared out of the bushes with a tag around its neck. The ranger asked if that was the one that had given the warning stomp but we assured him it wasn’t and he let out a sigh of relief, telling us that she is the ‘Matriarch’ (the leader) and if she gives the warning signal, you’re in trouble. Two minutes later, she gives us the warning. The next thing we know, we are being chased by around twenty elephants, speeding over bumps and through bushes to try and escape them. This lasted for a good ten minutes. Eventually getting away from them, our hearts pounding and absolutely petrified! Such a scary experience but a very funny memory when we think back on it!!

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Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?

Everybody! All the people there were lovely and easy to get along with. The girl I went with, who I met through Original Volunteers, and I made good friends. We also met a girl there who we are going to see in Australia sometime this year!

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers? Please explain why.

I wouldn’t go to that one again but would 100% use original volunteers again! I think there are so many places to visit in the world, it would be silly to go there again!

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?

Definitely take a raincoat! We went in their summer but it rained quite a lot. Also take socks and long pants for the morning feed because there is long grass and creepy crawlies. A head torch is essential as you feed the monkeys before sunrise. They do sell UK brands like Cadburys bit it’s not the same at all. So chocolate and biscuits would be good to take. I took hot chocolate which was great on cold nights by the fire.

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Chin-Soon Sun – South Africa

Why did you want to volunteer?

I want to gain more experience and connect to the people that are sharing the same passion as me from all around the world; at the same time, we can exchange knowledge and learn the value from the experience.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
I have made a difference, my mindset has open up and become positive and I appreciate my life even more. Also, being able to explore the nature, connect with people, gained the knowledge and being more adaptable to the environment and more discipline.

Why did you want to volunteer?
I want to gain more experience and connect to the people that are sharing the same passion as me from all around the world; at the same time, we can exchange knowledge and learn the value from the experience.

What did you do for fun?
Exercise.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
It’s completely different from what I had experience before from the travel and trip, for me the most enjoyable experience was when everyone worked together and had a good and productive time during the mission.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
The moment I was there, I was the only guy, but they’re all friendly so I did make friends with most of them.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise?
We went to Wonderboom because it’s the only place we had near Pretoria.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Yes, but with different country and mission because I prefer to get various culture and experience from different routine in different places.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
It’s a valuable life change experience. It’s something that will open your heart, change the way you think and grow you up to be a better and stronger individual

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Torch light, raincoat, gloves, sun protection, snacks.

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Kimberley Blakeley in South Africa

Why did you want to volunteer?
I love animal and i wanted to try something out of the country as I’ve volunteered in the uk and enjoyed it.

Do you feel you made a difference?
Yes, i helped build an enclosure that saved2 monkeys lives

What did you do for fun?
We played cards and games to pass the time,or we would just chill and talk, on my days off i did the trips which included pretoria zoo, horseback africa and lion and rhino park

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
Horseback africa was the best experience for me, getting that close to a giraffe only happens once if even that in a life time, other than that the whole 2 weeks were the best experience of my life.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
I made friends with everyone as we have the main thing in common, an interest in animals, we all went out together and really got on.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise?
Petronella, one because this was the only place you could get to within distance of the rescue centre and two it was cheap for food and drink.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with original volunteers?
Deffinately will go to ipr again and probably another project within original volunteers if something with animals ever came up.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
Don’t hitch hike or go anywhere alone

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
A head torch and a rain coat are a must.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
I took 400 pounds altogether but that was because i wanted to do trips. Cigarettes’ and food are very cheap and you could get by on probably 30 pounds per week basic.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Everyone finds it different. I would just say you will love it and go with the flow. Take slippers so you don’t have to wear your shoes all the time.

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies