Zimbabwe

African Impact

I had never been to Zimbabwe before, just Kenya and Tanzania, so this was the first time I was going to Africa not knowing what to expect. When I arrived into the Bulawayo airport and later at Antelope Park, I was greeted with nothing but smiling faces. Immediately, I felt so welcomed and appreciated as a volunteer. As I was doing the conservation photography program and there were not many of us, I was worried that we would be very separated from the rest of the group. However, our activities included everything possible—lion walks, carriage rides, horseback rides, research drives, game drives, elephant herding astrophotography, and more! We also had the flexibility to do what we wanted to do, which was always a nice option.

The staff always made sure we were well taken care and that we were safe at all times. The African Impact, Antelope Park and ALERT staff were always willing to answer questions about the program, and I learned so much about lion conservation during my short two weeks during the program... I'm already planning my next African Impact trip!

Program:
Location: Zimbabwe
Posted: Aug 3, 2016
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Imire: Rhino and Wildlife Conservation

I am a sixty year old retired attorney, and I was looking for a volunteer program that focused on endangered animals. A friend of mine, also a retired attorney, had participated in similar programs over the past few years. She located the Imire program on-line, and I stumbled upon the video, "There's a rhino in my house." When the two of us saw the video, about a baby rhino being raised by the founders of the program because his mother was killed by poachers, we were hooked. We both have had experiences raising wild orphaned animals, as adults and as children, since we both come from families who respected and loved animals. After all, who could love and cherish wild animals more than these founders, who were raising a rhino, a warthog and a hyena all at once, because the animals were orphaned?

My friend and I spent two weeks at Imire, performing various jobs such as repairing wash-outs in the road (as ex-attorneys, we were thrilled to be part of what we called a "chain gang"), pulling down unsafe watchtowers, removing old fencing, and constructing new platforms needed to climb upon elephants. (Although a program to raise endangered black rhinos, Imire is also the home for 5 elephants.)

Tatenda, the star of "There's a rhino in my house," was housed in a "boma" next to the volunteer house. He is a strapping seven-year-old black rhino, but still enjoys human company. My trusty travelling companion and I would often pull up chairs in the evening and talk about various world problems with him, which would often result in an ear and neck massage for Tatenda.

We also spent a lot of time with four of the elephants (the fifth appeared to be imprinted on buffaloes, so ignored us and the other elephants.) We cleaned their nests each morning, trundling countless wheelbarrows full of elephant manure away. (Being avid gardeners, my trusty companion and I excel at manure trundling.) We were also able to help train one of the elephants, and of course play with them, which consisted of swimming with the elephants.

I never tired of seeing the elephants. Each sighting was magical, since they are such majestic creatures and look like they are moving in slow motion. One evening, while walking Tatenda home with his guard/handler, I glimpsed the elephants and their handlers coming through the woods behind us. Walking between a seemingly contented rhino and four elephants made everything right with the world.

I was also very taken with the group of women who worked at the primary and secondary schools at Imire. These women were teachers and administrators,who devoted themselves to the students and school by working all day and then sewing at night to raise money for the school. They also purchased a drink, like our "ensure," to give the children before they left school, since some families could not afford to pack a lunch. Even though living in the most overwhelming poverty, these children appeared to be happy. It made me feel ashamed of my own privileged lifestyle.

I was never bored at Imire and felt no desire during my two weeks to leave and go somewhere else.

I also failed to mention that I suffer from Parkinson's. My husband was afraid that I might become a target for muggers, etc., because at times my disability is very apparent. However, quite the opposite occurred. I was "targeted" by the kindness of the people around me, even strangers who rushed to help if I had a medication brown-out and fell or became very stiff. Zimbabwe is a nation of care-takers. My greatest wish is to return to Zimbabwe and Imire again some day.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Zimbabwe
Posted: Feb 26, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

African Impact

I never wanted to go to Africa. I am 59 years old with 6 children and 14 grandchildren. I always thought I could use my resources to help those in need closer to home, but my youngest daughter wanted to teach in an orphanage in Africa, so I was volunteered by my wife to go with her. I didn't realize until I got there that God was calling me to Africa. WOW!!! First of all, the African Impact staff are wonderful. We worked closely with Norman Moyo in the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe community project, helping and teaching in the Rose of Charity orphanage, cutting firewood at the old folks home in Chinotimba, pumping water by hand for the community gardens, teaching at the village schools. His love of the people and his commitment to helping them improve their lives was fantastic. He opened my eyes, not only to the great need, but also to the great benefits that can be provided by a volunteer like me, and how the standard of living for the people of the villages can be improved so dramatically by just a few people who really care and have the ability to channel resources to their aid. I will never forget holding the young boy Angle in my arms, and seeing his huge smile as the light of comprehension lit up his face as I taught him mathematics. Playing soccer with young teenagers like So Bright and Nigel, and wondering if a small donation from me could go toward buying soccer shoes for these young men.
I guess what I'm saying is that I found that the local people who are going out of their way to help their fellow countrymen was the greatest revelation to me. These are people I can trust, and if i choose to send donations to them after I leave Africa, I am confident they will use the resources to help the people with the greatest need.
One of my concerns before arriving was about our safety, but upon arrival I felt totally safe at all times. The drinking water in Vic Falls is safe due to a purification plant outside of town. While doing our volunteering we were always with knowledgeable staff who kept us safe, and even when we went into town on our own, the people in the city were happy and a delight to be around.
Learning about and participating in the Lion Encounter project and helping with the other research projects was just an added bonus, and I haven't even mentioned the other volunteers from all over the world. They were amazing - so passionate and dedicated. I was really impressed.
I am now dedicated to helping African Impact in any way I can. I am working to get donations, and I will be speaking at various organizations to encourage volunteerism with African Impact. As I said above, the experience has changed my life, and I will be connected to Africa for the rest of my life.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Zimbabwe
Posted: Jun 13, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
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