Gavin Lau - 2014 Program Participant

What inspired you to volunteer abroad? Why do you think volunteering abroad is beneficial?

I was inspired to volunteer because I believe human beings are born to travel, experience all kind of things, embrace challenges, and of course enjoy the moments. On a more personal level, volunteering abroad could help me grow as a person and fulfill my wish to experience a different culture and broaden my own horizon. I also believe this is something you need to do at least once in a lifetime if you are given the chance; it will be inspiring, manifesting, and even life-changing.

Baby Ostrich in Israel

Why did you choose to apply for GoEco’s Desert Wildlife program?

I chose my program because I am a lover of both nature and animals. It is a natural desert area with load of animals living inside, some of them are even rare, what more can I ask for? I choose GoEco because they appeared to me as a reliable and well-organized volunteering organization, and they proved me correct throughout my volunteer program.

What was your favorite part about living in the rural areas of Israel?

The nature for sure. It is beautiful despite it is a desert area; you wake up with a big red sun and at night you can see every star in the sky without any light pollution. It is magical for both nature and animal lovers. It is also very close to Eilat, a city famous for its seaside and water sports (e.g. scuba diving), only 30 mins by bus.

What do you think are the most unique components of your program?

It's a combination of the nature and animals in Israel, it is pretty rare to say you will find another program like GoEco's in Israel.

How supportive were the local GoEco staff through your program?

The local GoEco staff  were excellent at organizing everything, they literally prepared everything and were ready to embrace any situation. They were professional. For the rangers in the Hai Bar nature reserve, they were excellent too. Their expertise on animals and friendliness to volunteers were very good. They will listen to you all the time, won't over-work you, and drive you to near Kibbutz for swimming in the afternoon if you are bored. They treat you like family.

If you could go back, what would you do differently? 

I wish I had stayed more than just four weeks.

Describe what a typical day was like as a volunteer in Israel.

You wake up at around 5 a.m. (for me), say good morning to the sun, and then rangers will drive you to where you work at 6 a.m. You probably have a coffee break then start working. It is normally two sets of work, tunnels and the cages. After that, you will have another break. Then you will move to other cleaning and feeding work. One person will feed in the Safari.

When there is no more other additional work, you will go home at around 1 or 2 p.m. For the rest of day, you will socialize with other volunteers and hang out together. There is a near kibbutz you can walk to, with an approximately 35 minute walk; they have one of the best gelato in the world! Trust me, I had been to Italy a few times and theirs are superb. Apart from that, you can also go swimming where there you could meet other volunteers who volunteer for other things. You might also go to Eilat or even to Jerusalem when it is on your given holiday. At night, I will spend some time for stargazing, that is a true gem of this reserve. Lastly, I will sleep for another glorious day.

What did you enjoy most outside of your volunteer placement?

No doubt it would be travel to other parts of Israel. That is part of the volunteering program, you get the chance to see the other parts of the country.

What was your accommodation like?

It is a simple house made by concrete or something similar, five beds, one bathroom, and one kitchen that was enough to accommodate every volunteer. It is small but you can find everything inside, they have a TV, wifi, computer, and air-conditioner, so nothing to worry about even if you are in the desert. The simplicity of the house and the art painted by previous volunteers in the house was beautiful.

Now that you're home, how has your GoEco program abroad impacted your life?

Now this is the part that I love the most. It made me love nature and animals even more! While I was lost what career I should choose, what thing I have the most passion for, these four weeks definitely awakened my passion and helped me to find my direction in life. It also made me understand life can be living in a very simple way and life can be beautiful as long as you find where your heart lies.