So, voluntourism as it’s now called. It’s for anyone wanting to get a bit more out of a holiday. Giving something back. And it really is for anyone. Not just gap year students, but young professionals, those in midlife crisis, the retired or anyone else. I fell under the mid life crisis category. I’d given up my job a few months before and was trying to find a new direction. All I knew was that I love animals and wanted to get away from the digital marketing world in London which is what I’d been doing before. I wanted to do something meaningful and away from grey. So, I googled.
I found the website of WorkingAbroad super user friendly. They had a great map, so I could see where all the different places where and I knew I wanted to go to Africa and work closely with animals, so I chose the Wildlife Conservation & San Bushmen Community Project in Namibia. A few weeks later I landed in Windhoek airport and I knew I’d arrived at the place I wanted to be. As I was driven to the wildlife sanctuary I even told the driver who picked me up that I was here to stay. I didn’t yet know how I’d manage it, but I knew I wasn’t going home.
I was booked to volunteer for 3 months and loved every single moment. The volunteer activities work on a rotation system, so each day I did something different. Whether it was preparing food for the animals or cleaning enclosures, riding out into the veldt on horseback, where you get right up close to the zebra, giraffe or countless antelope species, plus get to be in the most incredible landscape. Feeding the big cats. Getting involved in the research behind the human wildlife conflict, which is ultimately why all the animals in the sanctuary are there. Being part of the efforts to change peoples’ perceptions on the amazing wildlife in this country, which hopefully, ultimately means less animals end up in sanctuaries. Working with incredible people. So passionate about what they do. I loved it all. And the skies! The most beautiful skies I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen so many stars. And the sunsets and sunrises are simply spectacular.
So, I asked for a job. And I was extremely lucky as just 2 days before I asked, a position had opened up. And I got it! And I still love every single minute of being here in Namibia. Coming here was the absolute best thing I’ve ever done. And the driver who picked me up on my first day, Nicolaas, still remembers what I told him that day and now I get to work with him and the rest of the amazing people here every single day.