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Getting a step up in my Vet Nursing Diploma in a ‘once in a lifetime’ African experience

Getting a step up in my Vet Nursing Diploma in a ‘once in a lifetime’ African experience

Author -  Jessica Downey

I had heard about International Working Holidays a few years ago, from my older sister, who had considered trips with them before.

At the start of 2018, I decided to go have a look at what projects they offered for myself. I saw a few that looked good and then came across their Africa projects, specifically the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, in Namibia and the Horse Safari options in South Africa. I knew immediately that I wanted to go and volunteer with the wildlife.

I was halfway through a Diploma in Veterinary Nursing and I thought it would be perfect to do, not long after I finished my course. But I still had to take a couple days to think it over and make a final decision.


It was a bit of a spur of the moment decision, but one that I was very happy with. Shelby and Vicki took care of my applications and they were amazing, answered any questions I had and told me everything I needed to know to be fully prepared for the 2 months I would be away. Shelby even gave me recommendations on which horse safari to choose and I'm very happy she did, because the African Dream Horse Safari is just incredible, with lovely people and skilled instructors.

 IWH-Namibia-Wildlife-Sanctuary-2.jpeg

Me helping the vets at Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary to do checkups on the tortoises.


I had given myself a year to finish my studies, save for my trip and prepare myself, but when the time came to board my first of multiple flights, I was feeling excited but also nervous. It was going to be a long way from home, further than I had ever been before and even with all the preparation, I still couldn't be absolutely sure of what to expect.
Once I was there, the 2 months went by so fast, it was a full on and busy experience, caring for the wildlife, but it was incredible, the staff at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary are very helpful and welcoming and love to teach and tell everyone the stories about each animal they are caring for.


I was very impressed by the work they do, between running the sanctuary and also working so hard on the conservation of the wildlife and their environment. Part of my time there included working with the vets, doing health checkups on some of the captive animals and assisting with occasional surgeries. It felt so good to be able to put my recent studies into practice and these vets are some of the best I have worked with, they are very skilled at what they do.

IWH-Namibia-Wildlife-Sanctuary-1.jpeg

Group photo with Kobus, one of the vets at Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, plus the other volunteers with the last cheetah we sedated and did a health checkup on.


They were happy to let myself and the other volunteers have a go at everything, they would always be happy to instruct us and help us with what needed to be done and would answer any questions we had about the animals. Working with them would be one of the biggest highlights.


Another highlight, would be working at the African Dream Horse Safari.

The family who run the business welcomed me into the crew with open arms. I went there with minimal experience but they were happy to teach me the way they do things and they were able to help me greatly improve my riding ability, it was a struggle at times, but they were very encouraging and would constantly help me push myself to do my best.


The riding lessons I had with Traci and Shannon, were the biggest challenge I had to face within the entire trip. I arrived at the stables, knowing only the basics of riding, I could walk and trot mostly comfortably, but within the first week of getting there, they were already happy to teach me to canter.

IWH-Namibia-Wildlife-Sanctuary.jpeg

My first lesson going over a small jump, on Candle, at the South African Dream Horse Safari.


This pushed me out of my comfort zone but I was determined to follow their instructions and keep going until I could do it. I am very proud to see how much I have improved under their instruction. From my first lesson in the lunging ring, where I could barely get my horse to start cantering and then could only take a few strides, while holding on very tight, to my last morning at the stables, where I had one last ride in the main arena and was able to canter all on my own around the entire aena, feeling very comfortable and very happy.


I am so grateful for International Working Holidays, to have been able to take the opportunity to do these projects that they offer. It was an experience like no other and I would be very happy to do more through them. I would highly recommend them to people I know, I would love to see others have an amazing experience like what I got.


To find out more about Jessica’s projects check out Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

 https://www.iwh.co.nz/africa-volunteer-programs-for-kiwis/namibia-volunteer-project-options/namibia-vet-clinic-volunteer

and the African Dream Horse Safari

  https://www.iwh.co.nz/africa-volunteer-programs-for-kiwis/south-africa-dream-horse-safari

Getting a step up in my Vet Nursing Diploma in a ‘once in a lifetime’ African experience

I am so grateful for International Working Holidays, to have been able to take the opportunity to do these projects that they offer. It was an experience like no other and I would be very happy to do more through them.

I had heard about International Working Holidays a few years ago, from my older sister, who had considered trips with them before.

At the start of 2018, I decided to go have a look at what projects they offered for myself. I saw a few that looked good and then came across their Africa projects, specifically the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, in Namibia and the Horse Safari options in South Africa. I knew immediately that I wanted to go and volunteer with the wildlife.

I was halfway through a Diploma in Veterinary Nursing and I thought it would be perfect to do, not long after I finished my course. But I still had to take a couple days to think it over and make a final decision.


It was a bit of a spur of the moment decision, but one that I was very happy with. Shelby and Vicki took care of my applications and they were amazing, answered any questions I had and told me everything I needed to know to be fully prepared for the 2 months I would be away. Shelby even gave me recommendations on which horse safari to choose and I'm very happy she did, because the African Dream Horse Safari is just incredible, with lovely people and skilled instructors.

 IWH-Namibia-Wildlife-Sanctuary-2.jpeg

Me helping the vets at Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary to do checkups on the tortoises.


I had given myself a year to finish my studies, save for my trip and prepare myself, but when the time came to board my first of multiple flights, I was feeling excited but also nervous. It was going to be a long way from home, further than I had ever been before and even with all the preparation, I still couldn't be absolutely sure of what to expect.
Once I was there, the 2 months went by so fast, it was a full on and busy experience, caring for the wildlife, but it was incredible, the staff at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary are very helpful and welcoming and love to teach and tell everyone the stories about each animal they are caring for.


I was very impressed by the work they do, between running the sanctuary and also working so hard on the conservation of the wildlife and their environment. Part of my time there included working with the vets, doing health checkups on some of the captive animals and assisting with occasional surgeries. It felt so good to be able to put my recent studies into practice and these vets are some of the best I have worked with, they are very skilled at what they do.

IWH-Namibia-Wildlife-Sanctuary-1.jpeg

Group photo with Kobus, one of the vets at Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, plus the other volunteers with the last cheetah we sedated and did a health checkup on.


They were happy to let myself and the other volunteers have a go at everything, they would always be happy to instruct us and help us with what needed to be done and would answer any questions we had about the animals. Working with them would be one of the biggest highlights.


Another highlight, would be working at the African Dream Horse Safari.

The family who run the business welcomed me into the crew with open arms. I went there with minimal experience but they were happy to teach me the way they do things and they were able to help me greatly improve my riding ability, it was a struggle at times, but they were very encouraging and would constantly help me push myself to do my best.


The riding lessons I had with Traci and Shannon, were the biggest challenge I had to face within the entire trip. I arrived at the stables, knowing only the basics of riding, I could walk and trot mostly comfortably, but within the first week of getting there, they were already happy to teach me to canter.

IWH-Namibia-Wildlife-Sanctuary.jpeg

My first lesson going over a small jump, on Candle, at the South African Dream Horse Safari.


This pushed me out of my comfort zone but I was determined to follow their instructions and keep going until I could do it. I am very proud to see how much I have improved under their instruction. From my first lesson in the lunging ring, where I could barely get my horse to start cantering and then could only take a few strides, while holding on very tight, to my last morning at the stables, where I had one last ride in the main arena and was able to canter all on my own around the entire aena, feeling very comfortable and very happy.


I am so grateful for International Working Holidays, to have been able to take the opportunity to do these projects that they offer. It was an experience like no other and I would be very happy to do more through them. I would highly recommend them to people I know, I would love to see others have an amazing experience like what I got.


To find out more about Jessica’s projects check out Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

 https://www.iwh.co.nz/africa-volunteer-programs-for-kiwis/namibia-volunteer-project-options/namibia-vet-clinic-volunteer

and the African Dream Horse Safari

  https://www.iwh.co.nz/africa-volunteer-programs-for-kiwis/south-africa-dream-horse-safari

Getting a step up in my Vet Nursing Diploma in a ‘once in a lifetime’ African experience

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