Africa Unearthed

Season’s Report 2016

A massive THANK YOU for joining us in this beautiful country next summer. We know it’s  not always easy to find the time and raise the funds.

Please enjoy reading about last summer’s achievements as this will give a complete picture of the vast amount of assistance you will be giving to the local community through your generosity!

The work is ongoing with our Australian and New Zealand volunteers and then will recommence in April of this year when our first group of North American and British volunteers arrive to carry on with these vital projects.

Africa Unearthed Group 1

In the space of six days, the team managed to get 90% of the walls up, and during the activity week the builders got the roof on and were halfway through the rendering process – things were looking great! Hopefully you’re not all still covered in “ciment” now that you’re home.

Johan, Jabulani and all the croc centre staff couldn’t believe how fast you guys got through with building the new enclosures, and Cruise seems to have forgiven us for intruding in his home as he now pops up his head every time we go by!

Over at the cats, we got a lot done with the weeding, fencing and the endless back and forward cement mixing to secure the new enclosure. You guys had such good attitude towards the activities and obviously, the mind-blowing cat interactions. Seeing your reactions just made it so special for us too!

We hope you found spending time with the children at the crèche as enjoyable as we do. The combined efforts of your group as well as others ensure that these children grow up with good foundations in English, which will be a great help later in life! You have brought them much needed love and support; their endless smiles and energy (especially when it comes to dancing) was a reflection of how happy they were to have you guys around!

You have been one of the luckiest groups we’ve ever taken on safari; despite getting off to a rainy and cold start, you guys got to see wild dogs, a lioness with her giraffe kill and a pride of lions among many other incredible sightings!!!

Africa Unearthed Group 2

During this program, we saw the transformation of a patch of grass into the lasting foundations of the first of three blocks to be built at the community centre.

Both our team and the crocs really appreciated your work on conservation. We nearly completed the first of six new enclosures and we expect the new pond to be completed shortly! Croca-dizzle-Petra is as feisty as ever and still snapping at every opportunity she can to get food!

Over at the cats, we are now using the hole deep enough to fit Fannie and John on her shoulders. The new maternity pens now have two new baby servals in there.

There were two children at the crèche that had severe illness and sores (ulcers) and two of the volunteers from this group decided to raise money from the others and take them to the doctors and pay for the doctor’s fee and medication. So much appreciated

Some of you will never forget your safari day for having been almost flattened by an elephant… And a special thank you to Dougie for her morning yoga classes on construction, and introducing us all to cards against humanity! As for the cavers, we were all so jealous to hear about the “cuddle-puddle” and endless amounts of pizzaaaaa.

We’d like to thank you all for a beautiful and incredibly fun couple of weeks; thank you for your enthusiasm, hard work, endless laughs and motivation. We couldn’t have done any of it without you!

Africa Unearthed Group 3

During this program alone you guys put up every single wall for the first block of rooms as well as dug out the foundations, put in the bottom layer of concrete, three rows of bricks and 1 ½ of five concrete slabs on the second block!

The croc centre staff couldn’t believe how fast you guys got through the work; from cleaning the croc centre’s filthiest pond, to cement mixing (featuring the all new “belly flop” mixing technique), brick making and laying, digging, sweating and laughing – everyone at the croc centre were so grateful for all your hard work.  Thanks to you all, we were ninety five percent complete on our projected six new ponds and enclosures, and got about two thirds of our second pond dug out. You guys rocked!

We surprised Jabulani for his birthday and brought him to the beach on beach day.  He then came back to bibs for dinner and the Zulu dancers.  Before dinner, we all sang him happy birthday, got him cakes, and gave him a card signed by all the volunteers, along with a photo of all the volunteers.  He was so happy, he started tearing up. Jabulani makes such an impression on volunteers, it was so beautiful to do something special for him, as he always effortlessly brings joy to everyone around him.

Over at the cats, You guys powered through all the digging and did an excellent job of cleaning and clearing the enclosures. Whilst digging up the enclosure we found endless amounts of bones and a few of the girls were studying osteology and held a little lesson on the bone structures and different ways of telling what animals it is, I love meeting such unique people on these programs.

One of the volunteers (Sarah) organized during an internship with 4th grade students from Ostego middle school in Michigan, USA, that they showed a huge interest in contributing to her trip, this resulting in a writing collaboration for the students here to have a pen pal’

Thank you for helping to make Jabulani’s birthday so special, and who could forget the builders joining in to the Zulu Dancing… speaking of which, we’re excited to see your rain-dance moves in the new Step-Up: African Edition!

Africa Unearthed Group 4

We achieved our aim of painting the entire inside of the house out the back of Khula, meaning the family could move in on your last day of volunteering! We can’t tell you how thrilled they were after having waited so patiently for all the work to be completed. On top of that, your group was able to complete the foundations of the second block as well as put up every single inside and outside wall for it. The builders had the roof on it in no time at all, meaning it could be rendered and painted too!

Over at the Croc Centre, you guys were the first group ever to clean our big boy’s pond (Washesha); you helped with piping, digging, cementing and much more – all of which resulted in a nearly complete second pond! Thank you so much guys!

Over at the cats, you guys powered through all the fence and the extension of the caracal enclosures to get us back to standard regulations. Our job for a few days was to build little play equipment for the babies. So we built a scratch pad and a 2 level platform with different levels and climbing trees. The volunteers were pretending they were interior designers and running around the bush grabbing different logs to fit the interior. We think it’s awesome how involved and creative you got. Shakas for days!

Thanks to all the volunteers for doing a great job and getting the kids in the community to work and study instead of just playing. We did school work to improve English words and reading and continue on the pen pal letters.

Ever since VESA has been working in South Africa, the donated clothes/shoes etc. at the end of program have been distributed within the Khula community. This program, we thought we’d do something different; we collected the donations a day earlier than normal to have them washed by the time we left for Swaziland. At the border, we made up packs of donations with the help of the volunteers containing more or less the same array of clothing and shoes. We then drove across into Swaziland and stopped by a community hall and school where we distributed everything!

Your group was a fantastic mix of people from different backgrounds meaning we were able to celebrate both Canada Day and the 4th of July!!

Some of you had a pretty rainy safari day but made the most of it anyway! We were so glad that the whole group got to see lions – especially that beautiful male that ran across the road right in front of us! Between the cosy beach lounge and the crazy singalongs on the way home, we hope that beach day was as unforgettable for you as it was for us!

Last but not least, a massive shout out to Shauna for being such a champ even after getting “horned” by a male inyala!

Africa Unearthed Group 5

In just six days, you guys dug out the foundations of our third block, laid the foundations, put in all five concrete slabs and even made a start on the back wall!

At the croc centre, staff were so grateful for all that cement mixing.  You guys finished up the last few slices of our pizza pond! Whooo. You cleaned a few alligator ponds and of course, who could forget catching and sexing little blondie – our boy. We had so much fun with you guys – thanks for all your hard work!

Over at the cats, You guys powered through No automatic alt text available.all the fence work and bush bashing for the cheeky kittens to play around, stoke to smash out the extension of the caracal enclosures to get us back to standard regulations. Shakas for days!

On our education days we had fun even though it was school holidays but to us we didn’t feel that’s instead we had the best time ever feeding kids with knowledge. We all walked around the village collecting kids to come and spend the day at mama Doris with us.

We also went to two houses and met a new born and three months old triplets. The kids taught the volunteers dancing and showed their talents on modelling. It was such a great honour to put a smile on those 134 kids every day for 6 days and being able to feed them all with a proper meal.

We were so glad that the entire group got to see lions up close, how lucky! We were also blown away by your efforts on the boat cruise: hands down, best set of costumes of the season! A special shout-out to Cam (Laura) and Tommy (Charlotte) as well as the beautiful boys in dresses.

Nothing could knock you down; from Emma catching the fighting sticks in her mouth, Ben getting his knee higher than the Zulu dancers and Clodagh being the first female to attempt to flip a quad-bike downhill. There was never a dull moment around you lot!

Africa Unearthed Group 6

In just six days, not only did you put up 99% of the walls of the third block, but you also laid two concrete paths and helped us clear out the space for the future kitchen block!

Despite our water shortage at the Croc Centre this week, we managed to improvise by using rain water and made exceptional progress on the third pond and completed the second one! We’re so excited!  Hope you all had as much fun with us as we did with you!

Over at the cats, You guys powered through all the fence work and bush bashing for logs so the cheeky kittens can play, starting a new meat hole for who knows what. And just for the general laughs and hand stand competitions!

The volunteers caught on so well to Zulu lingo.  Everyone was referring to each other as “sisi “ and “bhuti” all week and it was really nice to see the interaction between volunteers and the locals – made locals so happy that they made the effort.

At the border, I also instinctively said “yebo” to one of the ladies and she was so happy – and I told her I didn’t know too much else, and then Thom followed and said Nyakuntanda and she laughed so much.  Beautiful little moment J

Nothing could get you guys down; we know you had to deal with a fair bit of rain but given how desperate South Africa has been for a downpour, it was such a blessing! Thanks for all your efforts with the dress-up boat cruise; we were beyond impressed by your efforts. You were the first ever group that came to explore the Hippo Festival – we hope you loved it as much as we all did, what an amazing live band! You were also lucky enough to be the first group of the season to get to go white-water rafting.

We loved all our singalongs whether on the buses, the worksite or by the campfire. And who could forget Lowrie during our star-gazing: “The sky here is MASSIVE!” Say no to light pollution.

Africa Unearthed Group 7

You helped us put the finishing touches on two projects: the house out the back of Khula and the three blocks at the community centre. The whole project looks incredible, and we can’t tell you how much it means to us to see it all finished!

We started on the community centre project with group 2 this season, and leaving the site on the very last day was an emotional moment for us. Looking around at the space which was previously just an empty field, it was unbelievably rewarding to see 3 completed blocks standing in front of us.

Thank you once again to everyone involved in the project; I can’t tell you how much your hard work means to us. I know it was exhausting at times but seeing the finished project, I can assure you it was well worth it! SIYABONGA

At the Croc Centre  Not only did you guys help clean a few croc and alligator homes and clear some leaves in Washesha's enclosure, you also hammered through heaps of cement mixing and helped us build up the walls of the third pond in enclosure 11! Thanks for helping us end this season's big project on a high note. We were able to fill up the big pizza pond on the last day and move our very first croc in there. We could not be happier! Thanks heaps guys!

Over at the cats, We got to work with one of the local builders on an enclosure and he was running the volunteers through their ways of becoming builders and workers. It definitely woke a few volunteers up.. ….from having no tools and machinery to making everything by hand. Was awesome to see how the reacted and how the learnt from them…

We hope loved spending time with those gorgeous children at the crèche. The ongoing efforts of your group as well as others ensure that these children grow up with good foundations in the English language , which will be a great help later in life! You have brought them much needed love and support; their endless smiles and energy .

You guys were probably one of the luckiest groups we’ve ever had with your sightings on safari! We loved how many of you started rocking the bare feet and hippie pants, keep it up! And a massive shout-out to eyebrow-less and clean shaven Reece for being such a champ and upholding his end of every odds he lost.

We’d like to thank you all for a beautiful and incredibly fun couple of weeks; thank you for your enthusiasm, hard work, endless laughs and motivation. We couldn’t have done any of it without you! What a way to end the season and go out on a high.