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Volunteer Testimonials

Read first hand experience from volunteers here!

Alicia Heineger: Bulawayo Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary

Zimbabwe Bulawayo, Zimbabwe  |  Aug 07, 2012
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 You will live unforgettable moments. You will never regret it. 

Tell us about your experiences with Kaya (sign up process, preparation)

I first tried to organize this trip from a local agency in Geneva and unfortunately they could not find anything available fitting my requests. I was delighted to find Kaya while searching the web for a solution. You managed to identify a fantastic project for me and convinced the representative to accept me and my friend even though we were coming for a short period. Thanks to Kaya I could spend my birthday as I wished.  What made you chose that particular project/country?

I am an animal lover and wanted to live a unique experience as a volunteer while discovering the real Africa.

Can you tell us about your experience in your accommodation?

 We slept in a hut together with my friend. As it was winter time it was very cold at night but our hosts gave us extra blankets. We had hot water in the showers that we shared with other volunteers. We were always eating all together, having breakfast in the volunteers’ kitchen and lunch and dinner at the house with the owners. We were happy to go in town sometimes to buy extra snacks as you get really hungry after working all day. 

Can you tell us a bit more about your role on the project?

 It was a full immersion with wildlife animals. We had a briefing every morning to know our tasks for the day. It went from taking care of the nursery where they keep small injured animals, to cleaning and restore cages, collect plants for the antelopes or straw in the fields, and last but not least, feed the big cats and collect bones in their cages. We also had the opportunity to help the people working with the big cats to prepare the food, I would have never thought I could be able to do this but it was an amazing experience.  

Did you have any worries before you left?

 My only worry was not to see lions or other big cats. As it is an orphanage you never know which animals will be there when you come. But instead I got to work every day with a dozen of lions, 5 leopards, and other big cats. I will never forget the sound of their roar…

Did anything surprise you?

 The project is a unique place, but they went through a lot of troubles over the years according to ecologic disasters, poaching, the economic situation of the country. They really need the help of volunteers to take care of the animals they are rescuing and the ones they unfortunately can’t put back in the wild for various reasons.

What were the highlights?

 We had a lot of responsibilities and could participate in all the tasks. We were really close to all the animals and even had baby times to spend with little monkeys or other small animals. When we were there, there was a young lion that they took out for a walk around the orphanage, we got to go with them and even touch him, it’s impossible to describe what you feel in this moment.

What does travelling as a volunteer mean to you vs travelling as a tourist?

It gives a true meaning to your trip and you discover the local life as you would never do as a tourist. We have spent a lot of time with owners and their family, heard true stories about their experiences and their everyday life. You have so much more to share around you when you come back from such a trip, and helping others gives a special satisfaction.

How has the experience affected you?

I feel lucky to have lived such an experience and even more concerned about animal rescue. I feel stronger as I did things I thought I would not be able to. Now I want to continue this project and find a way to support the centre from home.

What would you say to others thinking of volunteering?

You will live unforgettable moments. You will never regret it. 

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