Lessons in Conservation continues to grow in leaps and bounds as the dedicated teams are honing their skills and the operations are becoming more and more efficient. This increased efficiency means that we are able to give lessons to more children in a shorter amount of time, which is great news, but obviously this requires more money. Through all of the research that has been done into fundraising avenues, we decided that there was one avenue we had yet to explore: a volunteer programme. Not only would LiC be able to generate some income through such a programme, but we would also be impacting the lives of the young international travellers who will be spending time with us. The decision was then made to go ahead with setting up such a programme, and low and behold we were contacted by a young man from Bath, England. Marcus Kendall stepped up to the plate to be the brave soul we would be our first ever volunteer. Marcus agreed to spend a month with us, giving us enough time to explore most of the areas we would be able to reach with volunteers in the future. His task was to help us put together a programme that would balance time in the bush, with time giving lessons to children, and time enjoying the natural wonders that this country has to offer.
Marcus proved to be an ideal candidate for this role, as he understood the basics of the conservation and South Africa, having explored the country several times with his family before. His passion for conservation and children was evident from the outset, he immediately got stuck into helping us give lessons and quickly got the children as excited about wildlife as he was.
His month with us started at the beautiful Mongena Game Lodge, where we spent a week living in the research facility. Our mornings were made up with walks in the bush and we even had the opportunity to join the guiding team from Mongena on a birding game drive and got to write the assessment that followed. We then headed off to give lessons in Mamelodi, about an hours’ drive from our accommodation, before returning to Mongena for an afternoon game drive. This week flew by and Marcus was surprised at the long hours that our teams sacrifice in the preparation and execution of the lessons. This week was a great start to the programme and will remain a mainstay in all programmes to come.
From Mongena we flew down to Cape Town, where we worked with the WC team in planning for the year and got to spend two wonderful nights hiking in the mountains near Hermanus. From there we explored all that Stellenbosch and Cape Town has to offer before making our way to White River.
We then embarked on the third leg of our trip, adventuring into Eswatini and continuing our work in the Shewula community. With the help of our old friends Mandla and Sibhamu we were able to give lessons to 310 children from two different schools in the area. This was a real eye-opener for young Marcus and he said he was taken aback by the energy these young children offered during the lessons. Following the conclusion of these lessons, we returned to White River and entered the final leg of the trip, a journey through the Southern section of the Kruger National Park.
By this stage, Marcus had begun to tune in to the bush around him and it was amazing to see the transformation as he began to appreciate the slightest movement of grass giving away the position of an animal, or the softest call of a distant bird. It was clear that the programme had been successful, and the goal of changing the way he looked at the world around him had been achieved. A big thank you must go to Marcus Kendall and his family for the belief they showed in us and for the help they offered in establishing a volunteer programme that will last long into the future.
It seems LiC has unwittingly stumbled onto a volunteering goldmine, as the combination of working with both children and wildlife appears to be extremely attractive to people from all over the world. Strides are now being made towards setting up a more permanent programme in which 6 individuals will have the opportunity to spend two weeks with us as we continue to do our work.
If this is something you may be interested in getting involved in please feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org !
We would love for you to get involved.