“Volunteers are wonderful people”
Cheetah Conservation Fund, Otjiwarongo, Namibia – 8th to 31st March 2014
When you arrive at CCF you will be probably overwhelmed by all the information that you get. A million facts about cheetahs are explained to you in the museum of the visitor centre. Shortly after you will be taken to a safety and security briefing around CCF. While you are still thinking about the snakes, scorpions and spiders you should avoid you are already shown around on CCF’s land and where you will be sleeping for the next couple of weeks. There several work spaces in the office, nothing unusual. A poster on the wall shows a manager in a business suit saying “Volunteers are wonderful people.” I wondered why?
Lying in bed trying to process all the new information, the names of all the people and fighting the mosquitos this poster was still stuck in my head.
After your first night you try to fit into the routine at CCF. Almost every day you receive a different task. The tasks range from feeding cheetahs, releasing them into the wild, walking dogs, assisting with cheetah surgery, helping with goats, counting game to scanning documents for databases. The list goes on. Working days are long and exhausting. After all don’t expect a cheetah to forgive you if you decide to feed only on the next day just because it’s 5pm ;) On the other hand they will also reward you. One of them came to the fence on the day I was leaving, looked at me with her big orange-brown eyes and started to purr to tell me goodbye. I immediately knew that all the hard work paid off.
The animals already make your stay worth it. Where else can you encounter oryx, kudu, jackal on your morning run? But the people I met, made my stay unforgettable. The employees come from all around the world and they have so many stories to tell. Everyone enjoys what he is doing and this spirit is contagious. I felt welcome from the first minute. Usually tasks are assigned to more than one person so there is always someone to talk to if for once the work is not super exciting.
Obviously the after work activities couldn’t have been more fun. Getting a drink on the old water tower and enjoying the picturesque view on the Waterberg. The soccer games with the farmworkers. Playing card games until late at night or sitting at the fireplace and chatting. Everything had one thing in common. The people I met at CCF were wonderful. Maybe that manager on the poster was not so wrong after all. It should say though: “The people at CCF are wonderful!”