Valentine Monin - 2015 Program Participant

Bushwomen and children in the desert in Botswana

The Bushman teach us how to make fire and survive in the desert

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

I decided to go abroad to discover myself, to know what I really like. I knew I was fond of Africa, and I wanted to be sure if I would like to live there; now I know that I really want to work and live there. To go abroad is an experience to find yourself, and to know yourself. It’s an experience to discover who you are.

Why did you choose Enkosini Eco Experience?

I traveled a lot with my parents, and I love to discover new areas, new places, new people. At that time, I really loved Africa and I wanted to find a volunteer project in Africa, to learn more about it and about big cats. At the beginning, you just want to learn about big cats and you want to see them. But in Modisa you get more. You learn about big cats and you learn to love all wildlife, small animals, birds, plants, etc.

Lions in Botswana

The king and his wife at sunset

What was your favorite part about Botswana? 

When you are in middle of the desert, with no town around, you really live the project, the experience; you learn so much about wildlife, animals, and local population. At home or when you travel, you often are in a city, but when you discover the bush in Africa, you just think: why am I just now discovering this?

What makes the Modisa Wildlife Project unique?

At Modisa Wildlife Project you learn a lot about wildlife conservation in Botswana and about animals. It is really great because the project accept only 20 volunteers, so you can do every activity and know more about the people you live with. Val and Mikkel are really passionate people, and they transmit to us their passion. They teach you that approaching wildlife and loving it reminds us of our responsibility to it, our vulnerability facing it, and reveals our humanity as being awesome or dreadful, regarding the side we decide to choose.

You arrive at Modisa alone, and you leave it with a big family. Modisa will be your second home, and you will go back there as often as you can. It's a place you never leave, you never forget.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The local staff is amazing, they really take care of us as our parents do. The local staff is my African family. They help us so much for everything. They also teach us some words in their language and give us some information about their culture.

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

I would have done nothing differently, for me everything was perfect and was a part of a beautiful experience.

A herd of giraffe in Botswana

Giraffe family

Describe a day in the life of your program.

We start the day with a bushwalk, with our amazing guide who teaches us how to track animals and how to survive with plants in the desert. Then we come back to the camp for a big breakfast made by our chef. After we go for grass cutting, during the dry season, because animals don’t have enough food. Then we have lunch and a nap, or we can play volleyball with the staff.

At the end of the day we start a game drive to see the sunset. We drive next to giraffes, zebras, kudus, springbucks, and warthogs, and we can see “zazu” flying above us. We come back to the camp where the dinner is ready; the chef likely made us some pop, with wildebeest filet, and some bread cooked in the fire. We finish the day next to the fire, listening to Val talking about the wildlife under the African sky.

What is one of your favorite moments from your time in Botswana? 

The first time I came to Modisa, Sirga the lioness who was rescued by Val was still young, and I had the opportunity to walk with her and Val for a few hours. It was some of the best hours of my all life, and I will never forget it. I was really lucky because the year after she was too big and it would have been dangerous to do so.

Starry night sky in Africa

The African sky

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

We sleep in double tents, but some of us prefer to sleep on the roof of the kitchen, to see the Milky Way and shooting stars. We have a shower with cold water, but it’s not a problem because it's not cold in the desert during the day. We have a volleyball court, which is always used. Accommodation is simple, but cute and still comfortable.

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

Now that I am home, I think all day about Africa, I think differently about wildlife, and I try to explain this to other people. When you come back after an experience like this you see the world completely differently, with new eyes. This destination is not a place, but a new way of seeing things. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would.