GoAbroad Interview

Mercy Kayongo - Senior Housekeeping

Mercy Kayongo - Senior Housekeeping

Mercy was born in northwestern Botswana. Through her role with Modisa Wildlife Project, she helps make volunteers comfortable and happy throughout their stay, and is always ready with a funny story to brighten their day.

How did you get connected to Modisa?

I met Gully, who has been with Modisa Wildlife Project since the beginning, in Gantsi in August 2013, which is when he told me about the project. As soon as I heard about it, I was interested in working for Modisa Wildlife Project.

Modisa Wildlife Project volunteers and staff

Staff and volunteers in the camp - Modisa is one big family

What do you think makes Modisa unique?

We provide nice bush walks, game drives, and sunset drives with our professional guide for all volunteers. We look after the reserve, and the wild animals, and help with the day-to-day maintenance. Our project gives volunteers great insight into all aspects of wildlife conservation and wildlife in a reserve. We also support research projects hands-on, such as vulture research. And most importantly, we give volunteers a chance to become part of the Modisa family.

In your own experience, what about life in Botswana surprises volunteers the most?

Volunteers get surprised by bushmen activities and seeing wild animals all the time, everywhere. Botswana is a peace and harmonious country, packed with so many cultures and historic traditions. In comparison to many other countries in Africa, we are a multi-party democracy, in which the president is elected by the people.

How do you help volunteers settle into their new home?

We welcome them as part of our friendly family, and help them in any way we can. We are very involved with them from the beginning.

Modisa Wildlife Project volunteers and staff preparing breakfast

Preparing breakfast at the buffer zone, where we often go to enjoy the beautiful sunrise

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

We usually start the day early in the morning by cleaning the bathrooms and stocking up the fridge at the bar. After breakfast, I clean and prepare tents for the volunteers and do their laundry. In the afternoon, depending on what should  be done, I help by feeding  the animals or sometimes I just play volleyball with the volunteers.

What is Modisa’s volunteer accommodation like?

Our volunteers stay in nice, clean tents on platforms, with complete bedding.

How safe is Botswana? What safety precautions does Modisa have in place to ensure the safety of all volunteers?

Botswana is the safest, and also easiest, countries in Africa to self drive and travel through. One of the reasons this is possible is because the country is not overpopulated like other African countries. The director of Modisa Wildlife Project gives volunteers safety talks immediately upon arrival, so that they know what to do and what to expect to see around our unfenced camp.

What are some of the sustainability strategies Modisa uses on a daily basis?

We use solar panels for electricity production and our chef frequently uses collected old wood for cooking.

What is the number one reason why Botswana needs volunteers to support wildlife conservation efforts?

Botswana uses wildlife as a source of income for its people and it brings foreign exchange into the country. Therefore, wildlife conservation is beneficial for Botswana’s government and its people.

Local woman with international volunteer in Botswana

Mercy and one of the volunteers wearing bush earrings

What is the biggest benefit of volunteering in Botswana, in your opinion?

The biggest benefits of volunteering in Botswana is meeting and learning about people from different cultures and  countries and challenging yourself by putting yourself in a new place outside of your comfort zone. Volunteering programs help unite people of different countries that are fighting for the same cause, sharing ideas and information across borders along the way. When volunteer abroad, you learn to adapt to new surroundings and the conditions of a new country.

What do you love most about your job?

I love my job because I have a very cooperative boss, nice colleagues, and excellent volunteers to build up a good team.