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Volunteering is for guys too

Volunteering is for guys too

Author -  Matt OConnor

Being one of the two males to 30 females on the trip certainly made my trip interesting. 

My wild South African journey started when I landed in Johannesburg

Matt Soweto Orphanage South Africa.jpg

As soon as I landed with Laura a kiwi that Vicki from IWH had arranged for me to be seated next to , we were greeted by our driver. He took us directly to the travel backpackers in which we spent a week. 

Chilling and partying with everyone else from all over the world, everyone was on the same vibe and there for the same adventures, so I easily made good mates. 

Being one of only two males to roughly thirty girls and the only single one at that, I highly recommend the orientation and hostel, and doing the projects, as the ratio is mostly the same all year round. Come on guys!

The orientation staff are wicked people, so chilled friendly, and extremely helpful. Throughout my time in South Africa they kept in contact and made sure i was experiencing the best hospitality which included regular visits from Reuben and Thabo while I was in Soweto at the Orphanage, and Natasha was only ever a quick text away!

Each day at Orientation was as fun and as social as the last, with new faces always keen to drink, the mall just around corner, welcome dinner, bongo drum night , Soweto tours and markets and of course The Mandela tour.

Out of 10 I'd easily give the Orientation hospitality and staff a 9!
12084198_10208816138751688_1498369181_n.jpg

Save the Lions Project

What i had come all this way for - the lions !!!!

save the lions paw.jpg

Once shown around i was STOKED to find out i would be spending the next four weeks literally inside the lions 'aka devils' enclosure. My room surrounded 360 degrees by roaming 'devils' which made exiting and entering the front door to my room a fun mission!

This project is a three star resort with swimming pools and BAR!

Ultimate relaxation chilling in bar with fellow volleys (volunteers) hearing the rumbling roars from the fully grown lions only metres away. Take my word for it - voice recording on phones definitely don't do the lion's roar justice!

Each morning I was woken by the lions scratching at my door!

The days consists of two duties

Cub Duty

It's as awesome as it sounds, your day is split between feeding the baby cubs in morning, kicking back cuddling and playing with lion and tiger cubs. When they are not sleeping!

And the devils, slightly older but much bigger cubs running around playing with toys or learning to stalk just like them. 

lion hug.jpg

The only duties are; 

  • Feeding
  • Cuddling
  • Playing 

Ranger Day

Once again, hardly a days work soaking up the sun on the back of the ute driving to and from farms collecting dead frozen chickens to feed the full grown lions tigers cheetahs and hyenas!

Then collecting veggies for the tamer animals the project has like zebra, giraffe, emu, and different species of antelope.

Work duties 

  • Cleaning enclosures
  • Food prep
  • Cheetah day
  • Epic day of getting the best selfies and slow motion videos
  • Entering the enclosures laying on the ground with the cheetahs meals literally inches away from your face 
  • After each heart racing day with king of the jungle, to the bar I went to socialise in the many themed parties the rangers had arranged

tiger.jpg

Finding my way back to my room at all hours of the night was a whole new experience.  There is never a better walk back to bed than walking in with the lions, where they get their names as devils, because at night they're the most playful and entertaining.

Time at the Save The Lions Volunteer project had lived up to everything I was hoping for - 9 out of 10

 

Soweto Orphange Project

The most rewarding but also one of the hardest things I have ever done!

soweto orphanage.jpg

Located in all honesty the slums of Johannesburg the third-world country just down the motor way.
Unfortunately the hostel on the property of the orphanage was under construction so I spent my two weeks staying at Soweto Hotel. 

This did reduce the time I was able to spend with the older children as they attend school. It took me a few days to get over seeing the locals' living conditions; people passing out in middle of the street and men violently fighting over things back home we take for granted, such as fresh fruit.

soweto orphanage matt.jpg

But it was the same people and children who reminded me why I wanted to experience this project,  it was there 'hakuna matata' attitudes and smiles that made me feel so very welcome.

 

Something I will never forget in my life time is walking into the nursery where the preschools are in just in singlets and shorts, all came running over pulling on my beard and trying to rub my tattoos off my arms. 

Their smiles from ear to ear had me excited to see them every morning.

With the older kids at school, and after our playtime in mornings, and the younger kids having their naps, I found myself spending alot of time with the forever young caretaker Carter who was always in the best mood cracking jokes and messing about. 

My duties involved;

  • Involved maintenance - fixing cabinets and doors 
  • Planting and constructing the orphanages veggie garden
  • Battling the endless amount of rats getting at the crops

After hours i found myself bored and lonely being the only volunteer that month, and feeling guilty eating in hotel restaurant and staying in luxurious unit knowing the every day struggles just outside my window. 

But with accommodation up and running again at orphanage allowing more time with kids and attracting more volleys, its a must do for anyone male or female wanting to experience and meet the beautiful people on the other side to the resort type programmes.  

8 out of 10.

 

Bush 2 Beach

Starting in the bush of Kruger National Park at the raddest place - PANZI resort - like something out of Peter Pan staying in tree huts with monkeys playing above ya roof and the big five animals making there groans in the not so far distance, while your in enjoying the outside shower conjoined to your room.

The resort and Kruger tours are run the by the awesome legend of a dude Neil, whose energy and enthusiasm was exactly the same morning and night - wether he was throwing interesting facts at you about the smallest insect to the biggest of animals. From the myths and legends to the bushes and trees - he knows it all. 

kruger.jpg
Every morning we would wake before the rising sun to go on exciting bush walks tracking the animal prints freshly marked from the night before, getting up close with bird life and getting in comfortable distance to the giraffes, wildebeest, buffalo, bushpigs, monkeys, zebra, and baboons that populate the surrounding bush at Panzi. I  was lucky enough to get out and amoungst it with the vet tracking and darting blue wildebeest for health checks!

matt with dart gun Go-Kruger.jpg

The other days we explored Kruger Park ticking off the animals with up close photos and videos 

  • Seeing the rare rhinos and wild dogs
  • Cheetahs seeking around looking for prey
  • Elephants gracefully walking in large groups with sunset in background
  • Lions being lazy lions in the sun 

Only one out of the top five i didn't see was the leopard but ever more reason to return to tick him off the bucket list too.

matt.jpg

The best view I have ever seen, and apparently among the lucky few to ever see it at night, was when me and Neil got locked in on top of the mountain looking over Kruger Park. It was like seing from lion king as far as eye could see was territory of Kruger Park. The lights in the far distance were of the people out on spot light tours. 
The rest of that story not appropriate for this blog but I'm sure anyone who is interested should ask Neil, like his other stories he'll be happy to share in detail hahaha.

Matt on top of mountain south africa.jpg

Until next time Neil 10 out of 10 

The BEACH part of this programme !
Matt learning to surf cape town.JPG

Takes place in the famous Capetown staying at alternative packers " african soul surfers "
Relaxed hippie vibed hostel in right bang on the beach. 

capetown.jpg
Unfortunately for me I experienced the fraud side of South Africa falling for the wicked gift of the gab by some locals have, but in no way at all however does this change my opinions on my stay or the staff.  Just reiterate to always be on your toes :-)
8 out 10

Each morning the choice staff of Stoked Capetown surf school would meet us down on the beach for quick demos before heading out on the board in amongst the surf under watchful eye and experience from surf instructors. They were constantly giving encouragement and advice and who get just as excited and 'STOKED ' as you do, when you catch a wave. 
9 out of 10 stoked surf school

Afternoons gave you free time to explore the easy transport of Capetown with tour buses running every 15 mins taking you up the top of the world famous table top mountain to the youthfully populated Campers bay. 
One thing i had to tick off was the great white shark cage diving with was easily organised at backpackers. 

IWH and Vicki Kenny

I cant thank Vicki enough for the time she spent making sure my whole trip and programmes were as stress free and enjoyable as possible. From my first email with Vicki she was always extremely helpful and approachable with any questions and concerns. I literally only had to sort my own passport as Vicki arranged my police report , put me on to a travel agent , sorted my programmes, sorted my transport between programmes all the information I needed. 

Vicki's relationships with the programmes and awesome travel are expressed in the manner they treat us traveling under Vicki's reputation. 

Thank you Vicki for making my dream come true !! 10 out of 10

 


Volunteering is for guys too

Read about Kiwi Matt's time in South Africa volunteering at three different projects, his new tattoo (maybe) and why if you're a guy you need to do this too!

Being one of the two males to 30 females on the trip certainly made my trip interesting. 

My wild South African journey started when I landed in Johannesburg

Matt Soweto Orphanage South Africa.jpg

As soon as I landed with Laura a kiwi that Vicki from IWH had arranged for me to be seated next to , we were greeted by our driver. He took us directly to the travel backpackers in which we spent a week. 

Chilling and partying with everyone else from all over the world, everyone was on the same vibe and there for the same adventures, so I easily made good mates. 

Being one of only two males to roughly thirty girls and the only single one at that, I highly recommend the orientation and hostel, and doing the projects, as the ratio is mostly the same all year round. Come on guys!

The orientation staff are wicked people, so chilled friendly, and extremely helpful. Throughout my time in South Africa they kept in contact and made sure i was experiencing the best hospitality which included regular visits from Reuben and Thabo while I was in Soweto at the Orphanage, and Natasha was only ever a quick text away!

Each day at Orientation was as fun and as social as the last, with new faces always keen to drink, the mall just around corner, welcome dinner, bongo drum night , Soweto tours and markets and of course The Mandela tour.

Out of 10 I'd easily give the Orientation hospitality and staff a 9!
12084198_10208816138751688_1498369181_n.jpg

Save the Lions Project

What i had come all this way for - the lions !!!!

save the lions paw.jpg

Once shown around i was STOKED to find out i would be spending the next four weeks literally inside the lions 'aka devils' enclosure. My room surrounded 360 degrees by roaming 'devils' which made exiting and entering the front door to my room a fun mission!

This project is a three star resort with swimming pools and BAR!

Ultimate relaxation chilling in bar with fellow volleys (volunteers) hearing the rumbling roars from the fully grown lions only metres away. Take my word for it - voice recording on phones definitely don't do the lion's roar justice!

Each morning I was woken by the lions scratching at my door!

The days consists of two duties

Cub Duty

It's as awesome as it sounds, your day is split between feeding the baby cubs in morning, kicking back cuddling and playing with lion and tiger cubs. When they are not sleeping!

And the devils, slightly older but much bigger cubs running around playing with toys or learning to stalk just like them. 

lion hug.jpg

The only duties are; 

  • Feeding
  • Cuddling
  • Playing 

Ranger Day

Once again, hardly a days work soaking up the sun on the back of the ute driving to and from farms collecting dead frozen chickens to feed the full grown lions tigers cheetahs and hyenas!

Then collecting veggies for the tamer animals the project has like zebra, giraffe, emu, and different species of antelope.

Work duties 

  • Cleaning enclosures
  • Food prep
  • Cheetah day
  • Epic day of getting the best selfies and slow motion videos
  • Entering the enclosures laying on the ground with the cheetahs meals literally inches away from your face 
  • After each heart racing day with king of the jungle, to the bar I went to socialise in the many themed parties the rangers had arranged

tiger.jpg

Finding my way back to my room at all hours of the night was a whole new experience.  There is never a better walk back to bed than walking in with the lions, where they get their names as devils, because at night they're the most playful and entertaining.

Time at the Save The Lions Volunteer project had lived up to everything I was hoping for - 9 out of 10

 

Soweto Orphange Project

The most rewarding but also one of the hardest things I have ever done!

soweto orphanage.jpg

Located in all honesty the slums of Johannesburg the third-world country just down the motor way.
Unfortunately the hostel on the property of the orphanage was under construction so I spent my two weeks staying at Soweto Hotel. 

This did reduce the time I was able to spend with the older children as they attend school. It took me a few days to get over seeing the locals' living conditions; people passing out in middle of the street and men violently fighting over things back home we take for granted, such as fresh fruit.

soweto orphanage matt.jpg

But it was the same people and children who reminded me why I wanted to experience this project,  it was there 'hakuna matata' attitudes and smiles that made me feel so very welcome.

 

Something I will never forget in my life time is walking into the nursery where the preschools are in just in singlets and shorts, all came running over pulling on my beard and trying to rub my tattoos off my arms. 

Their smiles from ear to ear had me excited to see them every morning.

With the older kids at school, and after our playtime in mornings, and the younger kids having their naps, I found myself spending alot of time with the forever young caretaker Carter who was always in the best mood cracking jokes and messing about. 

My duties involved;

  • Involved maintenance - fixing cabinets and doors 
  • Planting and constructing the orphanages veggie garden
  • Battling the endless amount of rats getting at the crops

After hours i found myself bored and lonely being the only volunteer that month, and feeling guilty eating in hotel restaurant and staying in luxurious unit knowing the every day struggles just outside my window. 

But with accommodation up and running again at orphanage allowing more time with kids and attracting more volleys, its a must do for anyone male or female wanting to experience and meet the beautiful people on the other side to the resort type programmes.  

8 out of 10.

 

Bush 2 Beach

Starting in the bush of Kruger National Park at the raddest place - PANZI resort - like something out of Peter Pan staying in tree huts with monkeys playing above ya roof and the big five animals making there groans in the not so far distance, while your in enjoying the outside shower conjoined to your room.

The resort and Kruger tours are run the by the awesome legend of a dude Neil, whose energy and enthusiasm was exactly the same morning and night - wether he was throwing interesting facts at you about the smallest insect to the biggest of animals. From the myths and legends to the bushes and trees - he knows it all. 

kruger.jpg
Every morning we would wake before the rising sun to go on exciting bush walks tracking the animal prints freshly marked from the night before, getting up close with bird life and getting in comfortable distance to the giraffes, wildebeest, buffalo, bushpigs, monkeys, zebra, and baboons that populate the surrounding bush at Panzi. I  was lucky enough to get out and amoungst it with the vet tracking and darting blue wildebeest for health checks!

matt with dart gun Go-Kruger.jpg

The other days we explored Kruger Park ticking off the animals with up close photos and videos 

  • Seeing the rare rhinos and wild dogs
  • Cheetahs seeking around looking for prey
  • Elephants gracefully walking in large groups with sunset in background
  • Lions being lazy lions in the sun 

Only one out of the top five i didn't see was the leopard but ever more reason to return to tick him off the bucket list too.

matt.jpg

The best view I have ever seen, and apparently among the lucky few to ever see it at night, was when me and Neil got locked in on top of the mountain looking over Kruger Park. It was like seing from lion king as far as eye could see was territory of Kruger Park. The lights in the far distance were of the people out on spot light tours. 
The rest of that story not appropriate for this blog but I'm sure anyone who is interested should ask Neil, like his other stories he'll be happy to share in detail hahaha.

Matt on top of mountain south africa.jpg

Until next time Neil 10 out of 10 

The BEACH part of this programme !
Matt learning to surf cape town.JPG

Takes place in the famous Capetown staying at alternative packers " african soul surfers "
Relaxed hippie vibed hostel in right bang on the beach. 

capetown.jpg
Unfortunately for me I experienced the fraud side of South Africa falling for the wicked gift of the gab by some locals have, but in no way at all however does this change my opinions on my stay or the staff.  Just reiterate to always be on your toes :-)
8 out 10

Each morning the choice staff of Stoked Capetown surf school would meet us down on the beach for quick demos before heading out on the board in amongst the surf under watchful eye and experience from surf instructors. They were constantly giving encouragement and advice and who get just as excited and 'STOKED ' as you do, when you catch a wave. 
9 out of 10 stoked surf school

Afternoons gave you free time to explore the easy transport of Capetown with tour buses running every 15 mins taking you up the top of the world famous table top mountain to the youthfully populated Campers bay. 
One thing i had to tick off was the great white shark cage diving with was easily organised at backpackers. 

IWH and Vicki Kenny

I cant thank Vicki enough for the time she spent making sure my whole trip and programmes were as stress free and enjoyable as possible. From my first email with Vicki she was always extremely helpful and approachable with any questions and concerns. I literally only had to sort my own passport as Vicki arranged my police report , put me on to a travel agent , sorted my programmes, sorted my transport between programmes all the information I needed. 

Vicki's relationships with the programmes and awesome travel are expressed in the manner they treat us traveling under Vicki's reputation. 

Thank you Vicki for making my dream come true !! 10 out of 10

 


Volunteering is for guys too

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