Alison Walker, who no longer work us, worked as a Senior Shipping Consultant with Red Recruit fulfilled a lifelong dream of travelling to South Africa and volunteering at a conservation project. Here's her story ...
"I have always been a bit of a philanthropist and from an early age was involved in sponsored walks, swims and even free fall parachuting to raise money for various charities, mainly animals and children. I have always been passionate about animals and as soon as I started working regularly donated to the RSPCA and WWF. About 15 years ago I also became involved in the World Vision programme sponsoring children in Africa. I have sponsored three to dare in Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone and it is very rewarding to receive correspondence from your sponsored child and know that just a small monthly contribution has a huge effect on their lives, their families' and also their community. From this I developed an interest in Africa, the children there and also the wildlife, particularly conservation and the protection of indigenous species.
Over the last few years I have wanted to visit Africa to either see my sponsored child and/or visit one of the game reserves there but due to work and personal commitments the 'right' time never came. Finally I decided to stop procrastinating and to do some about it! I wanted to visist Africa but not as a holiday. I wanted to do something useful or become involved with something meaningful so after extensive internet research found a non profit conservation project that offered volunteers the opportunity to get involved and make a positive contribution to conservation. I signed up for 2 weeks and I can honestly say it was one of the experiences of my life.
The project, called Enkosini Eco Experience, was set up to protect and preserve Africa's wildlife and the infrastructure is being put into place to set up a self sustaining model of responsible conservation that preserves Africa's natural heritage and promotes education and awareness of conservation issues. The initiative is to join together large sections of land that have been previously used as cattle farms and restore the environment back to its natural state.
The role of volunteer is arduous and unglamorous with day to day duties including bush fire management, removal of barbed wire fencing, installing new fencing, collecting firewood, vegetation management etc.. however it is also totally rewarding in knowing that you are giving something back. Additionally all the volunteers you get to meet are like minded people from all over the world with a good sense of fun and adventure and from this project I have made some good friends for life.
The project also supports a local village school and visits them regularly, provides labour to help with any tasks required and donates school supplies, clothes and play items. Volunteers get the opportunity to go to the school and meet the teachers and children. I had a fantastic day there and the learning went both ways! I got involved with the classes, teaching maths to some and singing to the younger ones ... I was humbled by their ability to be so happy with so little ...
It wasn't all hard work as we also had a fun trip to Kruger Safari Park where we spent two nights camping and going on several game drives where we got to see many animals in their natural environment, including the big five!
My two weeks flew by and I was really sad to leave, the experience was exhausting but also exhilarating, in fact it was life changing, I learn a lot, not only about conservation and the education of such but also about myself. It was a place to reflect on life and what I wanted out of it.
As soon as I got home I realised that I needed to go back, Ii had more to give and I wanted to get more involved with the project and also the local school. So I am going back in September for another four weeks. I am also looking at taking a TEFL course next year to enanle me to assist with teaching at the school a couple of times a year. I feel very fortunate to have found this vocation and equally that Caroline and Red Recruit are very supportive of my endeavours, as they have been over the last ten years!!!".
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