I consider myself to be a pretty well-traveled man and I have had all kinds of adventures around the world and I can honestly say that my time at Daktari was among the best times of my life. I... Phil Woodland
beautiful experience-superbe experience
Submitted by jujulafrancaose - ayherre bordeaux 1 | September 21, 2014
cette experience m a permise de voyager, de decouvrir toutes sortes d animaux, des personnes extraordinaire.... une superbe experience. de plus yan et michele sont deux superbes personnes !!!!! bref que du positif
This experience allowed me to travel and discover all sorts of animals, amazing people .... a great experience. more Yan and Michele are two beautiful people !!!!! brief but positive
Submitted by Gemma - England | September 19, 2014
I volunteered at Daktari for 6weeks in 2011 and loved every moment!
Michele and Ian (founders) are awesome , they care a huge amount about the local community and local wildlife hich is infectious for volunteers!
I remember Michele had an injured baby bush baby we helped care for during my time at Daktari, holding & caring for that cute & fluffy bush baby was amazing, unfortunately he I'd not make it but we tried! And that's the point of Daktari, they all try to save wildlife and make a difference!
By educating the local community it will help protect wildlife now and in the future, watching personalities and attitudes of the kids that visit Daktari change during their time is a life is a life changing experience or all volunteers!
Being a part of Daktari is being part of a family!!
My home away from home
Submitted by Ditte Soerensen - Hjørring | September 19, 2014
Hi all :o)
If you're looking for a volunteer experience, where you can combine working with children with the african bush and animals, this is the place.
As part of my study, I did an internship a 6 months internship at Daktari in 2006/2007, and I have been coming back every year since.
The founders Michele and Ian are fantastic people, who put their heart and soul into making a difference for not only the local children and injured animals, but also for the local community and the volunteers, who stay at Daktari :o)
At Daktari you will become part of the local community, and get an insight into the local south african way of living. At the same time, you will have a chance to influence the life of young local children - and they will influence you life as well.
And if you end up like me, Africa and Daktari will get under your skin - and you will try to get back here, at every chance you get :o)
A truly wonerful experience
Submitted by Phil Woodland - Tokyo | September 18, 2014
I consider myself to be a pretty well-traveled man and I have had all kinds of adventures around the world and I can honestly say that my time at Daktari was among the best times of my life. I stayed at Daktari for a couple of months in 2010 and visited again for a shorter time last year and the place has only gotten better and better. It is a beautiful place and i loved being constantly surrounded by animals and having such a hands-on experience with them. When listening to a leopard roaring and being visited by a hungry porcupine while enjoying an evening beer become a regular thing you know life is good;) And driving the kids back to the village one Friday and having kids from previous groups chasing the bus and waving and calling to me made me realise what a wonderful thing Ian and Michelle (and all us volunteers) are doing. It really seems to have a positive impact on their lives. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Submitted by Monica - London | September 18, 2014
Volunteering at Daktari in August 2012 is my best volunteering experience because it combined wildlife conservation and education. I've done other projects (orangutans in Borneo, pandas in China, teaching in Beijing, planting native trees in Mauritius) but this is a fantastic opportunity to make a real social impact through the one week residential program and visiting the eco club at the local secondary. It was most rewarding to see the kids confidence with animals and expressing themselves improve over the course of just 5 days in residence.
Wonderful experience with kids and animals in a bush camp
Submitted by HOLLY - Mannheim Ursulinen Gymnasium Mannheim | September 18, 2014
In my 2 weeks at Daktari (June 2013) I learned a lot about under-privileged kids in Africa, notably that education is key for them to a better life.
Education must include a broad bundle of aspects in order to carry them personally, and the region they live in, forward: Command of the English language, knowledge about nature and environment, but also ethical and friendly behaviour count. I am happy to have contributed to a couple of children making strides forward.
Taking care of the animals at Daktari was also a very nice experience and contributed to the deep spirit of giving to support every being, to be giving and foregiving. Amazing organization, too, so no animal was ever forgotten!
I also learned new things about myself, and developed myself further. At first I was a bit doubtful whether I could do a sufficiently good job at teaching. After all, I was by far the youngest of the volunteers, and barely older than some of the kids. The good teaching material, helpful other volunteers, and just pleasant and excited kids coming in both weeks made it easy and fun for me to master the teaching well.
PS: I would have preferred to stay another week or 2, but I had to fit this into a 2 week "social project" slot at my (German) high school.
Submitted by Martien - Amsterdam | September 18, 2014
Daktari was my first experience as a volunteer, and a great one to start.
Communication was good and quick and we got there with good directions. We were picked up and brought to the farm. Met everyone and got shown around.
For me the best part was the combination between wildlife and children. Helping both felt great and satisfying. Best was to see the kids grow as the week progressed, with the Thursday night bonfire with great dancing and singing.
The accommodations were very good for African standards and the food even better. Great to hear all the animals noise at night.
Ian & Michele are loving and warm people who dedicate their living to bringing joy and health to both animals and people. Plus Ian is very funny.
In the weekend we went on a trip to Kruger park with Greg, the house-friend. He knows about every bird and animal and shared all his knowledge during the tour. Would definitely recommend taking a trip with Greg.
We went for two weeks, because it was our first trip, but wished I went longer.
It really was a great experience and would love to go again.
PS part of the reason I choose Daktari is that you contact them directly, and not pay for intermediaries. That is why this is very affordable compared to other projects.
Submitted by ILOVEDAKTARI - La Possession | September 18, 2014
Daktari offers a volunteers programm that will amazed you. Leopard, crocodiles, owls, austrichs, antilopes, donkey, porcupine...all the wildlife around you and you become a actor of there survival! Wow, I could not advise better programm!
Finding the answers
Submitted by Marilyn - Toronto | September 19, 2014
I was there for a month in 2011 and though I've done volunteering before, this was one of the best.
Michele and Ian have really involved the community youth in finding answers and ways to combat the ecological devastation in their communities. The program continues with the eco-clubs. Part of the program for the kids is some tutoring in English and math which is so much needed as many of the teachers don't have much training. The kids are fun and polite, and there are games, a Lion King (movie) night and a party night before they head home again.
Working with the animals was just great too. Seeing the variety that is there along with what just comes to visit was really fun, and I learned a lot about the critters that were there, and of course had my favourites.
Meals were good and plentiful, accomodation was clean and comfortable, and I was greeted each morning by a little tree frog that would be sitting on my bathroom mirror.
So, not only value for money (there are too many of the other kind!) but great fun and a real sense that you'd helped with something worthwhile when you came home again.
DAKTARI - My volunteer experience
Submitted by Annie Dylan - London | April 13, 2015
My experience of volunteering at DAKTARI Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage was a thoroughly eye opening experience, but not in the way that I imagined it to be. They say "never judge a book by its cover", and in my experience I feel that DAKTARI's "book cover" is misleading and I feel that it creates a commercialised picture that is not true to life. Having said that, although it was not what I had expected, overall it was a truly amazing experience, and I have learned things about the world and about myself that I never thought I would learn, especially not at DAKTARI.
I undoubtedly believe that the idea behind DAKTARI and what it stands for and all its aims were wholesome, vibrant and came from solely great hearts. However, I feel like the ethos of DAKTARI has changed since then and it is no longer about rehabilitating animals and educating children, or at least allowing them to enjoy a week that they could have never imagined, but that it is more driven by money and fame nowadays.
I would hate to think that I would upset any person through writing this review, and I hope I don’t, but it is a number of months since I stayed at DAKTARI and it is still bothering me. I suppose I should start where it all began- Ian and Michelle. I have read endless reviews about DAKTARI and each and every one of them mention Ian and Michelle with great love and enthusiasm, and this is so lovely to see. Perhaps it is just me, coming from an entirely different background and culture that they do, but I found it very difficult to see eye to eye with them both. It is amazing to see that they have put such love into DAKTARI and dedicated their entire lives to the cause, and I wholly respect and recognise this. However, I found that they did not portray this love or enthusiasm with the volunteers or the children at DAKTARI, and there was a definite hierarchy with them. Before I arrived at DAKTARI I had read about Ian and Michelle’s great work with the animals and children, and I had seen a photo on their facebook page of Michelle reading a book to the children on a cold winter’s day, among many other similar events. However, the only time I saw Ian or Michelle interacting with the children was when they were scaring them, trying to catch them out, or punishing them. Michelle would vaguely “introduce” herself to a group of children by asking “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” and asking them all aggressively if they wanted a drink at lunch time. If this was answered with a “yes” or “no” without any manners, which was out of pure fear as far as I could see, all of the children would get punished. They may have to write 50 lines during their free time, not taking into account that no all of the children were literate in any language, and English was very difficult for them to understand and communicate through. I, along with all the other volunteers HATED the way in which Ian would discipline the children for bad behaviour. Not only would he shout at them aggressively, but he takes a meal away from the children as a punishment for very trivial things. Not only was it the basic responsibility of DAKTARI to feed these children, but the money volunteers pay is supposed to be used for feeding the children. If we can’t guarantee meals to these children then I think the ethos of charity is lost. I was also witness to Michelle referring to the children as “little shits”. “You little shits”, she screamed into their faces in a fury. No human, never mind any child should have to be subjected to this in a place that is supposed to be of refuge and safety for them. These are a few things that really upset me while I was there, and it is not my aim to hurt anyone or seek revenge. In fact, it is the complete opposite to that. I would just like to voice my opinion, as perhaps DAKTARI isn’t for everyone, and perhaps not everyone can come to terms with discipline alike and hierarchy like this.
When I arrived at DAKTARI the “staff”, who are the glue that hold DAKTARI together took my eye immediately. As a volunteer program in a non-profit organisation, whose main goal is to help needy people and animals, I had presumed the volunteers would be self sufficient and make our own food in teams and clean up in teams etc., like what happens in many other volunteer programs around the world. I come from a family who works for themselves, and having “maids”, as they call them at DAKTARI, would be completely unheard of to me. These men and women worked from dawn to dusk cooking for us, cleaning up after us, building things and doing every other thing under the sun. I was appalled the first time I saw one of the ladies who work in the kitchen bring a glass of milk to Ian at the top of the table, and he wouldn’t even look at her, never mind thank her or even acknowledge her existence. I never got used to this either, it just angered me more and more every time I saw it happening. Ian and Michelle have a terrible habit of making fun of and undermining the staff’s abilities and talents, as well as bringing money into every equation. I heard Ian giving out about a particular job not having been done properly, and threatening to not pay the men to finish the job. The living conditions that the staff are given are appalling in comparison to the chalets that the volunteers live in, also. Perhaps this is just because I am from far West in the world and not used to this type of backward and unequal treatment, but I truly felt that the treatment of the staff at DAKTARI was unfair and old fashioned.
For two people who run a non-profit organisation, Ian and Michelle also seem to be quite well off. They live in a big, beautiful house and drive a very nice car, and they enjoy nice alcoholic beverages at their pearl. I was disgusted to see that the newest DAKTARI appeal is to fund Ian and Michele’s new house being built. Perhaps it isn’t ideal to have long term volunteers living in their house, but the house is big, beautiful and very, very well furnished. I also witnessed a lot of racial comments from both of them, which I was not able to accept, and I made this known as I am a person who is always true to myself and I always stick up for what I believe in. Perhaps South Africa has not come past the times of inequality as a whole, is it not part of DAKTARI’s aim to bring people together?
I had a wonderful time at DAKTARI, and don’t let my experience stop any of you wishing to go in the future. I met wonderful volunteers and I feel that we, ourselves, made a huge impact. However, as outlined above, I feel that people need to know a little more about what they are getting themselves in for, as there are many other volunteer programmes out there, of which I have taken part in, that are a lot more wholesome.
DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage responded to this review April 15, 2015 at 4:14 AM
It seems that this comment is a personal attack to Ian and Michele as we never had a volunteer under the name of Annie Dylan. Here are our answers to a few points:
- Yes, like anywhere in the world there is a hierarchy at Daktari. My husband and I sold everything we had, including our house to create this organisation and we will not let incapable people to take over and deteriorate the impact we are trying to make on the community and environment.
- Yes I may scare the children when I say do you know who I am? I usually say that “I am the one who give punishments if you are naughty” and we end up with a big laugh! This is a way to make the children confident (joking with them) and a way to let them know that they have to respect the place where they are invited.
- Yes I give sometime 50 lines to write when they are not polite. This usually happens when the volunteers are not confident or attentive enough to teach the children about politeness. One our our aim is to get the children respected when they address to anybody and we believe that if a child is polite, he will be respected. This has nothing to do with colour, but I know that these rules are not taught anymore in many other countries of the world and we do not have to adhere to this lack of respect. We want the best for the children of our community and it starts by being respected.
- I have not treated the children of little shit and if I have done it once, it might have been because I was really upset with their attitude. This has usually ended up with a big hug and a laugh. Am I supposed to be perfect?
- We are proud to say that our staffs are well looked after. We employ people to cook for us and to build because we believe that volunteers must focus on the education of the children and not cooking or building. The volunteers do not spend money for the experience of cooking or building new enclosures. This is job creation. Yes we laugh with our staff, we also have some of them stealing from us sometime and of course it has to be sanctioned like anywhere in the world. Sometime it is better to give a good shout, understanding and accepting their lack of education or difference of culture than dismissing them. When you have an employee breaking something of a great value that you have worked hard to buy, we guess you can be cross isn’t it? We do not live in an administrative world where everything should be notified with a warning letter. An upset discussion is enough and life goes on for everybody. This is life. We think “Annie Dylan” forgot to speak about the great things we do for the staff, may be because she could only see the negative side. We will not spend time to tell about the positive things we do for our team as we think the previous comments from volunteers say it all.
- The staffs are living in brick houses with water, shower and toilets that we improved last year. When we started, it was in bad condition and we worked on it as much as we could afford to. For most of the staff, their accommodation at Daktari is better than the one they have in their village. We are happy to improve more if “Annie Dylan” would help us with funding. This would be much more constructive.
The most shocking part of this review is stating that Ian and Michele are well off!
Ian and Michele started 9 years ago. We sold our house, gave our car to Daktari. We are living in the main building of the camp. We have a bedroom with an on suite bathroom.
We share this house with 3 other volunteers; we invite the children to watch the lion king in this house every Wednesday. The only furniture’s in this house are the beds for volunteers and a sofa where all the volunteers and children can seat. It is a room where everybody goes to charge their electric appliances (there is not electricity at Daktari and it is the same for Ian and Michele) and drop their laundry.
We have been sharing this house with all our volunteers for 9 years and even had sometime volunteers opening our bedroom door by mistake. We did not have privacy for 9 years, sharing everything we have at Daktari with all the volunteers, the children and the staff. This includes having our meals with around 20 people 3 times a day. We gave our car to Daktari and we bought another one, which is much better and safer that can be used for long trips to get supplies or to meet sponsors. Our private car has been used and damaged for the use of Daktari. If this is what you call to be well off … then we do not have the same definition of wealth.
Thanks to friends who noticed that we were suffering from privacy and wanting us to carry on our project in optimal conditions, they have lent us some money to build a Log Cabin. Is a log cabin luxury? We have not posted the financing of this house on Daktari’s account but on a private website where people can participate for our 50th and 60th birthday this year. Family has asked us if we would celebrate and, as we are not keen on party, we suggested for the one who wanted to make a present to help toward the furnishing of the wooden house. Do you think Annie Dylan that living in a log cabin at 50 and 60 years old is being well off? I can only hope that you will do better in life and do as much impact on the community as we do. Actually, if you would have been able to adapt and wanting to work hard enough to make a difference on the local community, you should have discussed the matters with us. You should also have first learnt to say goodbye before leaving without saying a word. May be you have not been taught politeness!
Ian and Michele