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DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, Environmental Education, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection

Mission: The mission of Daktari is to educate and inspire underprivileged children to care for their environment through the medium of a wildlife orphanage

Results: Daktari meets regularly with teachers and the headmasters of our local schools. Teachers have reported significant progress in their students who have visited Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage. The improvements that teachers have reported include: • Increased concentration in the classroom. • A greater motivation to learn and speak up in class. • The children are much more polite and attentive in class. • A significant increase in self-confidence and self-esteem. • A higher pass rate at the end of the year for those who attended Daktari. The survey is designed as an indictor of the children's progression throughout the week, and gives valuable information on the children's improvement. The questions asked range from general knowledge, such as 'what is a tourist and why do they benefit South Africa?' to ones concerning basic education. We have noted extensive improvement in all of the subjects tackled. Another indication of the projects’ success was the creation of the Daktari Eco clubs developed by school children who have completed their week at Daktari. These children are so inspired by Daktari’s environmental education programme that they want to share their knowledge and newfound passion with their friends and the local community. There have also been noted cases where children from Daktari have stopped the creation of hunting parties, and called Nature Conservation when wild animals have been found in the area. On one occasion, this resolved in the rescue of a female cheetah and her cubs. Since Daktari began they have worked with five schools in the Sekoro area, and hosted over a 2000 children. The project has also partnered with an HIV orphanage and a disabilities centre for children.

Target demographics: Underprivileged children from grade 8 aged between 13 and 18 years old

Direct beneficiaries per year: 400 children

Geographic areas served: Limpopo province - Maruleng district

Programs: Every Monday Daktari collects 8 to 10 children from their village for their 5-day visit, and they are returned on Friday. The children receive structured lessons and hands on education from 07h00 to 18h30.

Community Stories

14 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I only spent a week with Daktari in 2009, yet my experience there still resonates strongly with me. The concept of the camp is very strong, and all of the staff and volunteers are extremely passionate about its cause and progressing the wellbeing of the animals and children. As there are different groups of children staying each week, you still gain a lot even if you only stay a short time, and I highly recommend the experience.

1 Maureen C.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I chose Daktari it wasn't my first volunteering experience. I had already volunteered as a special ed teacher and also assisting ecological research in other parts of the world. Daktari offered both in the same place. It looked intriguing and I wanted to know more. From the minute I arrive I am welcomed into the Daktari family - and what an exceptional family this is! Into this family is built a unique and incredibly genuine philosophy of caring for the environment, for the animals, for the children, for our earth and all of us who share it. you will become part of it - you will share your skill and your caring - and you will know your contribution is doing REAL good. For me, Daktari has indeed set itself apart from other volunteer experiences. I think often of my short but memorable time there and know I'll be back some day. Ian and Michele - your passion is contagious - you are indeed living what you believe. Thank you!

Alongtheway30

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It has been two years almost since I came back from Daktari... And I cannot wait to go back!! The 5 weeks I spent there in 2010 were amazing and have had a major impact on me. There is seldom one week when I don't think of my time there and the people I met. Not only are Michèle and Ian wonderful people, they have also created a special place where everyone makes a difference to the others' lives, whether children, volunteers, animals or staff. Before I decided to join Daktari, I browsed through 'hundreds' of different volunteering programs. Daktari was the only one (I found) combining environment and education. And what a program! Intense but so rewarding, and life-changing for the children... The children don't want to leave, the volunteers just want to come back! If you ever have the opportunity to visit South Africa, make sure Daktari is on your priority list, you won't regret it. Michele, Ian, I'll see you soon... :-)!

Noor S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Daktari was the most wonderful place I've ever been. You learn so much about the animals and get to experience them in an amazing way. You also get to experience teaching children about the wonders of their country. They are so grateful for that and they'll surprise you by their efforts and the amount of thank you's you'll get. Your only regret will be that your trip is too short.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I had a dream..... I gues that is how everything that becomes great begins! Michele and my father had such a dream and have built a truly amazing place. Not only do they look after a range of animals varying from Donkeys to Leopards, but they also help their local communities by teaching the kids life skills. They are truly an inspiration not only to me (their daughter), but to everyone. Daktari is a little oasis in the middle of nowhere, and the world would never be the same with out it! If you are looking for an amazing volunteering postition, this truly is the best place in the world. You will learn a lot, but more importantly, you will have friends (and memories) for life!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent two months at daktari in 2010 and the only bad thing about it was leaving. Daktari added to me and gave me a new understanding of life. I was able to learn about myself but I could also see the effect it had on the children. By the end of the week you can can see how much of a positive impact Daktari has on their lives. Michele and Ian are incredibly warm inspiring people who have devoted themselves entirely to the project, I feel privileged to have been able to spend time with them and learn from them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I only have wonderful things to say about my 2 months stay at Daktari. The the kind and loving people at Daktari provide a good atmosphere for the volunteers. Interacting with the children, animals and nature guarantee you an unforgettable experience for a life time.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

An wonderful experience i would recommend to anyone in love with the wildlife...

Comments ( 1 )

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Daktari 03/09/2012

Michele and Ian would humbly like to say thank you for this very positive review. We are touched.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Roberta and John from Detroit, Michigan, USA. My husband and I spent a week at Daktari in May 2010. A trip to Africa was a life-long dream, and while we were eager to go on safari and see the sights, we also wanted to do something that would be more meaningful than just being tourists. We do a lot of volunteer work to restore wildlife habitat in Michigan, so we searched on the internet for volunteer opportunities with animals in South Africa, and Daktari came up. We investigated and determined it was legitimate. We worked with Michelle on-line and she made it very easy for us to work Daktari into our travel plans.

We spent a great week at Daktari, getting to know Ian and Michelle, the other international volunteers, the staff, the animals, and, of course, the children. Ian and Michelle have developed an amazing educational program to supplement the children’s school lessons, and have carefully and successfully integrated learning about and caring for the animals into the educational program. Hands-on experiences have a much more profound and lasting impact than book lessons. It was evident that the children’s understanding of and appreciation for their country’s natural resources increased tremendously during the course of their week at Daktari.

We see a similar disconnect between children and nature here at home. Affluent children spend more time on their computers and video games than outdoors in nature, while under-privileged children in Detroit and other urban centers frequently do not have the opportunity to visit safe and healthy open spaces with wildlife. It is critically important to expose youth to the natural world and educate them to be the next generation of environmental stewards. They have a big job ahead of them.

We will never forget our friends from Daktari – Ian and Michelle, the other volunteers, Eeyore the blind donkey, the incredible porcupine, and the young, friendly mongooses (mongeese?) who climbed all over us like crazed kittens.

Comments ( 1 )

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Daktari 03/09/2012

Wow, what a positive response! Thank you both very much. Actually we were discussing the impact we make on the children, but had forgotten we also make an impact on the volunteers. It is wonderful to have this feedback. Regards from Ian and Michele

1 Rosie P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband, daughter and I spent a week at Daktari in August 2010. For us all it was a life changing experience that surpassed expectations. We certainly hope to return. Ian and Michelle have devoted their lives to this outstanding project. The aims are simple yet so important - education for the young people - not just in the basics of maths and english but also conservation of their environment and the chance for these children to make a difference not only to their own futures but that of this great country, South Africa. Hands on care of the orphaned animals was also a privilage - playing with the meerkats, cleaning and feeding all the animals, not to mention meeting like minded people from other parts of the world. A sundowner at Leopard Rock was memorable and the sound of the children singing while dancing round the camp fire on their last night was magical. Ian and Michelle's vision in setting up this project and the hard work they put into it deserves full support - they make a really valuable difference to the community around them and their energy and enthusiasm is fantastic. Thank you, Ian and Michelle, for what you are doing.

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Daktari 03/09/2012

Thank you so much for the positive review. It warms the heart to know we also make a positive impact on the volunteers.I hope you realise this project would not be possible without the input of the volunteers. Regards from Ian and Michele.

1 Tiffany5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My 3,5 month stay at Daktari Bush School was an unforgettable one! Ian & Michele, the owners of Daktari, are the most wonderful people that I've ever met and they made me feel at home straight away. Daktari is situated in the middle of a game reserve where you will be surrounded by wildlife and beautiful nature. The work at Daktari is rewarding and it's really nice to work with the children. Ian and Michele give you the opportunity to make the best out of your stay. If you want a real South African experience and contribute to the conservation of the SA nature through education, this is the place you need to go!

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Daktari 03/09/2012

Such an angel! We really miss you and thank you for all the input you have given to Daktari. Love you.....Ian and Michele

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent an unforgettable month at Daktari in 2009. The experience was as anticipated - nothing like anything I had experienced before, and therefore perfect. Being woken by monkeys on the thatch roof, and playing cards at night by the light of a head torch whilst being serenaded by the rustle of porcupine quills, and the occasional (distant) lion's roar, were the eventful bookmarks to each of a series of amazing days. From feeding one-winged eagles, cleaning the mice boxes (I didn't think I could but I did), shampooing blind donkeys and feeding meal worms to a bush baby, the days were varied to say the least. Added to the caring of the animals was the great time spent with the wonderful children whom we taught each day, (and 40 degree heat), and you will understand why I left Daktari a better person, with alot of very happy memories.

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Daktari 03/09/2012

It sounds so good I want to go there!!!! Thanks for the positive ands well written review. Ian and Michele

Colleen E.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband, daughter and I volunteered at September 2011. What an amazing place. The Daktari mission, volunteers, staff, students and animals make it amazing! The time spent at Daktari reminded us about how important it is to teach the world about humanitarian acts, ecology and being friends with people from around the world. Sadly we have not been able to return but we watch the website and Facebook updates faithfully. Ian and Michele have it right. We need more people and places where this can happen, but Daktari sets the bar. We recommend volunteering and contributing first hand to making a wonderful impression and help to the children and animals of South Africa. Yes we will go back as soon as we can.

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Daktari 03/04/2012

Thank you very much Colleen for your review and great support. This remind us so much of when you were all here :-) Lots of love Ian and Michele

2 Tim Marriott

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first went to Daktari for four months in 2010. The main reason for going was to satisfy my ambition for a placement working with animals, both to care for the sick and orphaned that are looked after there and also to learn more about the wild animals that surround the project, in the beautiful and unique bush environment that borders the Kruger Park.
Other than the animals, the main aim of the project is to educate the under-privileged local children that live in the nearby villages who have not had the chance to learn about their natural heritage and the respect that the environment they live in deserves. I was amazed how much helping these children had an impact on me, having never been drawn to teaching beforehand. In turn it was incredible to see the impact we had on them, after a five day programme where they had the pleasure of spending time in the bush and the opportunity of working alongside international volunteers and the wonderful staff at Daktari. The smiles on their faces as they said goodbye and the hope that they held in their hearts after what they had gained from the experience, whether it be a minor thing or something more substantial, makes Daktari truly unique in its priceless quest.
Michele and Ian, who established the foundation, are absolute diamonds and are two of the most amazing, caring and hardworking committed people I have ever met, and who I can, I hope, now call friends.
I have since been back in October 2011, where I was pleased to see how any donations needed and gratefully received have led to many improvements, and likewise thrilled to get the same sense of soul and aspiration that I received from the project during my first experience. I now look forward to revisiting for the third time in a few weeks and am absolutely certain that Daktari will have a special place in my heart forever.

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Daktari 03/02/2012

Thank you very much and yes I think we can say you are a friends after so many years of support already :-) See you soon. Ian and Michele