Saturday, 4 January 2014

Harnas Volunteers

The volunteer side of the farm started when the farm became large enough that they needed more help and a way to bring in some money to the farm. Over the years the volunteer project has evolved and during the busy season there can be as many as 60 volunteers from around the world all living and working together. As said earlier, most volunteers are from Europe but Australia and North America are slowly discovering Harnas. 

The average age is in the low 20s- a lot of gap year travellers which is what I found when I was there as well. But there were a few of us "oldies" aka over 27 years! lol 

As a volunteer, we are divided into 4 different groups which each have a set of different animals that we look after : Crocs, Hound Dogs, Owls and Snoobobs ( baboons backwards). I was part of the best team(hehe): Snoobobs. 

Each team normally has 5-6 people so only 2-3 people do food prep every day while the other team members do other activities like feeding animals on the morning tours or going and doing research.

I was lucky to have a great team from begining to end. Pretty sure it was random but the Snoobobs did end up with most of the "oldies". Over the course of my stay the Snoobobs consisted of: Alex (team leader when I arrived, Norway), Milla ( Norway), Thomas (Germany), Eric ( Germany), Stacey (Australia), Victor (Alaska), Svenja ( Germany), Zoie ( Usa). Great fun, hard working group of people! Worked really well together. 
Snoobobs (l to r): me, Victor, Eric, Thomas, Stacy on Safari theme Lapa night

I did become Team Leader after my first week when Alex left. 

For those who know me, I am all about girls can do pretty much anything that men can do specially when it comes to farm type work. But I will say that is was very nice to have 3 awesome guys on the team when it came to dealing with the baboons. Baboons will generally gravitate towards men and like them better then women therefore will defend any guys over us ladies. Not fun! And also not helped by the fact our 4 baboons were not known for being the nicest ones on the place either. Janine and Lloyd maybe weren't so much as bad as being big , strong and tended to jump on people when they got fed. And if you react wrong, that turns into bitting, clothes ripping and only gets worse from there. Needless to say I never went into their enclosure. Victor, Eric and Thomas handled them beautifully even though they came out went ripped clothing , bites and loosing a hat more then once! 

The normal schedule for the volunteers was pretty straight forward and did allow for lots of time to do your own thing. It wasn't all just work. The day started with breakfast at 7am up at the farm which was a 10 minute walk. The morning meeting was at 8am under the tree. This is where all of the tasks were divided out for the morning. Tasks like : food prep (2-3 people per team), helping on morning tours ( 4 people) , research ( 3-4 people), farm work, outside feeding and any other fun activities like baboon walks and animal interactions. Most of the morning activities would finish by 12 or 12:30. Lunch at 1pm. Free time till 3pm meeting. Then afternoon activities which would be afternoon feeding, outside feeding, animal interactions, afternoon tour and farm work. The day would finish up at 5pm depending on what animals you looked after. The snoobobs normally didn't finish til 6 pm due to having nocturnal animals that couldn't be fed any earlier then 6pm. 

Evening were pretty much free to do what we wanted. Supper was at 7pm and we normally had a bonfire afterwards. The village did have a waterhole close by so we would see the odd animal there during the evenings. The coolest was the herd zebras which oddly don't sound like horses and more like barking. But regularly saw springbok, wildebeests, impalas. 

Free time for most of the volunteers was spent hanging out with the animals. Time to actually sit down and bond or play with them. I spent a lot of entertaining time with my meerkats, Oma the baboon and the Pumbas. 

The saddest day of the week for the volunteers is thursday- departure day for all volunteers leaving :( Never a fun day. Though we do have a big party on wednesday night for everyone leaving. And fridays is normally fun getting to meet the newbies. 

Us trying to keep volunteers from leaving .. very sad week lots of my friends leaving that week

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