For so many years now I have really wanted to go and volunteer abroad somewhere, and after discovering that my housemate Shweta wanted to travel too, last year we finally went for it and booked 3 weeks at N/a'an ku se, in Namibia for this summer.
|Me with Samira, a lovely old Cheetah. She's the only one you can actually touch like this without risking loss of limb.|
|Tipsy the baby Springbok|
It's hard to know where to start! I knew I would love it, but I didn't realise quite how much. Within 5 minutes of being home, I already started planning a return trip for next summer when I finish uni. Running away to Africa seems like a great way to avoid actually deciding what I'm going to do with my life!
|African Wild Dog|
|Me and Charlie Brown|
N/a'an ku se is a reserve dealing with lots of different animals, including Leopards, Cheetahs, Lions, Warthogs, Wild Dogs, Caracals, Meerkats and lots and lots of baboons. There is also a school on the farm, where the Bushman children go, where I spent half my time.
|me and baby Koos|
You definitely work hard, the day starts at 8am and finishes at about 5, but it's so worth it when you see new enclosures going up, and how well cared for the animals are. Even if you're making a small contribution to the overall work at the sanctuary, it feels like everyone's hard work is really appreciated.
One of the things I actually enjoyed the most (which I didn't think I would) was looking after baby baboons for the night. There are 4 babies there at the moment, and because they're so little they have to spend the night in bed with the volunteers so they don't get cold. We ended up doing this a few times during our 3 weeks, with our two babies Max and Koos. They are very wriggly, and trying to get a nappy on a very energetic baboon was definitely an experience, but they keep you nice and warm at night! It's amazing how human their behaviours seem, and I miss little Koos so much now I'm home.
I've never met such happy children in my life! They are all so bright and really want to learn. We helped with teaching basic English and Maths, and did lots and lots of pushing on the swings and singing and dancing! The children were so much fun, and wore us out even more than the baboons did. It's so sad that they don't get the same opportunities that we all take so for granted in this country. Primary School has only just become free, and Secondary school still charges children to attend, which really restricts who can continue with education, regardless of how bright or motivated they might be.
|and the older kids|
|me and Shweta with the younger kids|
It's so hard to really get across how amazing the experience was, I don't feel like I've really done it justice. I can't believe how much I learnt, and all the amazing friendships I made in just 3 weeks. The thought of being able to go back for a longer amount of time next year is definitely making it easier to keep going to work and save money! Anyone who has ever thought they might want to do some volunteering, just go for it. You will have such and amazing time and make great friends, it's so so worth it.
|With Lisa and Denzil|
|Me and Denzil|
|Some of the other lovely volunteers|
or if you would like to adopt an animal:
Also, I'm going to write a children's book about the animals at N/a'an ku se as part of my major project this year. Definitely still in the early stages, but I'm hoping if I enter it into a few competitions it will at least spread the word about N/a'an ku se!
And who better to be the leading lady than the lovely Samira??
I'll be posting developments up here!