VESA’s humanitarian and conservation projects aim to provide direct action support to communities in parts of the world overlooked by traditional charities and aid organisations.Learn more
Please enjoy reading about your groups’ achievements as this will give a more complete picture of the vast amount of assistance that you’ve given to the local community through your generosity. And a special thank you to Damaris, Jacob, Frankie, Andrew, Jillian and Zine who have been a fantastic team to lead our volunteers in the 2018 - 2019 season.
VESA has established a program in association with the local Prince Induna, which identifies families in dire need of help, so we can build houses for them as part of the project.
The goal for this season was to build two houses, the first one being for Jubolani (complete house pictured below), who has been left by his family to care for himself. With no money and little strength, VESA agreed to build him a three-room house with kitchen and an attached bathroom as well as a sustainable garden and incinerator.
The next project is for the family next door, where one woman is caring for about fifteen children who have lost their primary guardians. The current house is clearly falling apart, so VESA is going to build a four-room house for the children to live. These rooms will be 4m by 5m, with no need for an ablution block as theirs is already very much intact.
In Hluhluwe, we worked with cheetah and other African cats in a rehabilitation, breeding and release program.
At the Saint Lucia Crocodile Centre there was observation, population monitoring, capture and release of crocodiles, as well as behind the scenes maintenance.
The volunteers really rolled up their sleeves and got stuck into the first construction project, with two of the boys even volunteering to come back for a third day to get the house done more quickly!
In six days we dug the foundations, completed the floors and finished about 2/3 of the walls, as well as digging the hole for the septic tank, digging out and building the base for the incinerator and clearing/digging/composting a new veggie patch.
• dug the holes for the foundation
• filled it with concrete
• put up the walls
• laid in the floor
• dug a sustainable garden
• dug the septic tank
The lunch time walking safaris have been very popular as lot of the volunteers have never seen any of the cats. They particularly loved being able to get up close to Juba and loved Mafuta the serval as he was very affectionate, particularly to Ross.
The highlight had to be when we saw Cassidy, as he kept hissing at volunteer James whenever he moved but allowed everyone else to get close him. We also were able to get close to the zebras on the lodge almost every day and the volunteers got some amazing photos and a good educational experience
• attempted to get rid of the invasive plants on the property
• did fire control for the pit
• cleaned the cat troughs
We built two much needed benches at the Crocodile Centre. We had a lot of laughs trying to put the nails in properly as they were bending all time and being broken.
After several tries, we were finally able to do it in a proper way!
• built walls of one pool for crocodiles
• dug out the drainage system of three pools
• cleared the grass at the back enclosures
• cleaned the alligator and dwarf crocodile pools
This group was amazing and we had a good start to the volunteer season. They were fantastic with the kids – warm, friendly and helpful – and they will be missed in Khula Village.
For the 4 – 5-year-old children:
• reading, English basics
• life skills
• lots of fun games.
This group had three separate projects going at the same time. Helping Jubolani finish his house and garden as well as starting a new house next door for a family with seven children.
This family’s current home is severely slanting to the left and is basically unsuitable. The project is to construct a three-room house with two 4 x 4 bedrooms and a 4 x 4 kitchen. This group pushed through both heat and rain to get the foundation dug, floors in, and about have the outside walls built.
• finished raising the walls on Jubolani’s house (he will move in for X-mas)
• completed constructing the sustainable garden
• started and finished the foundations and floors on project two.
• started on the walls for project two
The volunteers enjoyed the educational tour and a big shout out to Charlie for overcoming his fear of cats and going into the enclosures with them.
With no new projects ready to start at the present time most of the work was cleaning the water troughs and keeping up the maintenance at the centre.
This group was very passionate, enthusiastic, funny and fantastic. It was amazing to work with all of them and they did a very good job at the centre.
Our favourite was the day that we collected the crocodile eggs to bring them to the incubator!
1. kept clearing the Six Enclosure Project (6EP)
2. modified the access of the pools at the 6EP
3. finished digging the drainage system at the 6EP
4. constructed a new enclosure for juvenile crocodiles
5. cleaned crocodile and tortoise pools
6. caught and released a juvenile crocodile that appeared at the centre
At Mama Doris’s, the volunteers helped the children with basic maths, English and science. We had a Christmas party on the last day of volunteering where we had a feast and gave gifts to the children.
The primary students were on school holiday but will start the new school year with stronger skills in all the subjects!
Finishing the first house for Jubolani was a huge achievement for this group!
Everyone pulled their weight and worked hard when they had too. Watching a man move into his first real home was truly an amazing experience and everybody played a significant role. All we need is a roof on the second house and we can repeat the move in all over again!!
After a killer safari seeing 4 of the big 5, an amazing time at the beach, and some adrenaline pumping activities in Swazi, it was sad to see this group leave.
• painted the inside of the house
• installed doors/windows
• made the floors
• mixed cement/concrete
• completed the septic tank
• finished the walls in preparation for the roof to go on the second house.
It was a fantastic week with the cats. The volunteers loved the chance to be close with the cheetahs and the servals.
We had one day where Juba and Moya didn’t want to sit and pose for photos showing the volunteers that they are still wild animals that do as they wish. Cassidy the serval was more affable and was loving the attention.
As well as the basic maintenance we built a shelter for Keeza the serval so that she can have some privacy as well as removing some debris from the enclosure. Hopefully it will be completed by next group.
This week we worked hard collecting eggs from the nests to transfer them to the incuabator. The most exciting time was when we were in Cut-Gut’s enclosure collecting her eggs; a moment full of adrenaline because she is very protective with her nest. But we collected very fast and without any issues!
• collected from thirteen nests to bring the eggs into the incubator.
• cleaned Imfolozi and Washesha pools
• took care of the cycads (endangered plant species).
• cleaned the juvenile crocodile enclosure
We started doing lessons before the schools reopened in January. It was a good opportunity for the children to improve their reading ahead of the new school year. We also had some maths activities which the kids really enjoyed.
• improved reading
• English lessons
• maths activities from 8 – 11:30am
We had a blast, from finishing up the first house to putting the final touches on the second.
This group worked so hard and we were able to finish our two construction projects ready for the second family to move in. The volunteers all had such positive attitudes, it was truly amazing to see their friendships form.
We also planted a sustainable garden for Jubolani (pictured).
• finished painting inside and outside of Jubolani’s house
• rearranged and cleaned the furniture
• mixed cement for rendering the new house
• started painting the inside rooms
• built a full garbage disposal
• laid concrete to fix the foundation of the original house
The educational side of the small cat conservation project is going well particularly. We try to emphasize to the volunteers about responsible wildlife tourism and using social media as a voice for animals.
We cleaned the caracal enclosures making sure they did not become overgrown.
This group have had the amazing experience of collecting slender snout and dwarf crocodile eggs from their nests.
This never happened before in the history of VESA due to the fact that the slenders haven’t nested in the last twelve years and the dwarfs in the last eight. Super lucky group!!
• collected the eggs (1 nest slender snout and 1 dwarf crocodile)
• cleaned the moat of the pools of the crocodiles at the centre
A big thank you to all our volunteers and especially to Robyn, Nicole and Alana for contributing to Mama Doris getting diapers, beds, new sheets and a changeable. Your help has been amazing, and Mama Doris was very grateful for the donations.
• helped with lesson plans
• visited the school
• helped the kids with maths
• assisted with English lessons
The children have been progressing well with all the help.