Last year, we saw 10 national scholars gain places on community and conservation scholarships in their home countries, thanks to donation made to this project. As such, I wanted to share some direct quotes from these scholars, to show what your donations have helped to achieve!
"It was certainly an unforgettable experience. I remember with great envy and wanting to relive the paradisiatic life that I had while there. I got to work with green turtles and loggerheads at the start of the season opener and furgher, it was so gratifying to see how the cycle is fulfilled as we saw nests that we marked and relocated (saving them from flooding in several times) hatchling, and then at night we were helping the young to reach the water. Life as a volunteer and in particular in an environmental program gave me a great awareness on the impact and footprint I want to leave with my life in this world. Also, being able to interact with so many people gave me a lot of maturity in community life and brought me many intercultural friendships that I still have."
I came through the University of Seychelles and I actually came here without any diving experience. During these three weeks I’ve done my Open Water course as well as my Advanced Open Water. I have also been learning a great deal about fish monitoring and the different methodologies used to actually do that and will be surveying at various sites around the Northwest of Mahe. Apart from the daily dives GVI has given the opportunity to meet other people and socialize just like a family would. To live with other people of different nationality and background has been a great experience for me considering that I am the only Seychellois there for the time being. The reason why I wanted to join GVI was basically because I believe that environmental research and protection is important and critical for a small island such as Seychelles and it is only by participating and at times volunteering that one can make a real difference for the future generations to come.
Thank you for supporting this project and these individuals.
All the best
GVI Charitable Trust
In the GVI Jalova hub, our first scholar, Walter, has been living with us now for 6 months. He has already been showing many advances, learning English, survey protocols and obtaining his Emergency First Response. He is now starting the Internship Program, which will bring him lifelong skills and experience to fulfill his plans for his future career.
Empowering is one of the key objectives of GVI. With the National Scholarship Program, GVI hopes to give the local community knowledge and power to work towards key global and local issues, including sustainable development and conservation.
Walter, from Nicaragua, has been living in Tortuguero for many years. He has many plans for his future and GVI is playing an important role in it. With this experience, he hopes to be more prepared to continue his studies on an undergraduate level, majoring in biology and conservation.
Our scholar has already developed his skills in many ways. When he first arrived, his knowledge of English language was basic. Now, after 6 months, we can already see an advance in his learning process. The daily living with English speaking volunteers has been pushing him forwards. Besides, staff’s efforts to organize English classes are showing results, as he builds up confidence everyday to speak in a non-native language. Volunteers are also always engaged in this activity: every month we have volunteers to help staff members with his English classes or even just having a conversation in English.
During the last 6 months, Walter has been learning the methods we use for our surveys and also teaching us what he knows. Being raised in Tortuguero, he has a keen eye to spot our local animals, which makes him an invaluable asset in the field. His previous experience working with turtles with Sea Turtle Conservancy also makes him extremely helpful on turtle season. Besides, the cultural exchange he promotes with volunteers is priceless. His Tico rice recipe has already gained reputation on camp and he is always happy to practice and teaching some Spanish. We are happy to see the accomplishment of one of the goals of our National Scholarship Program: the exchange of knowledge between the local community and our staff and volunteers.
On June, Walter achieved another victory. He took the EFR course with the new volunteers. After 3 days of intensive training, theoretical and practical tests, he has learned how to act in emergency situations. Now, after 6 months of initial training and practicing English, he is officially ready to start our Internship Program. Together with other 3 other interns, he will be trained on taxonomy identification, leadership skills, scientific writing and presentations and data analysis. We are excited to take this further step, as this will bring him more experience and knowledge.
It has been many challenges for him: cultural and language barriers, but also a lot of learning. However, Walter has demonstrated enthusiasm and willingness to learn and develop every week. Hopefully this is only the start of a program that will become established for many years to come. This week, we are receiving Luis, Walter’s friend. He has showed interest on our National Scholar Program and wanted to visit us for a week during his holidays. We are already keeping an eye for our next lucky national scholar!
Thank you for supporting this project and we look forward to bringing you more news!
Marcelle Muniz Barreto, Field Staff
Following our last report, we wanted to bring you a testimonial from Kutullo himself on his experiences with GVI as a national scholar in Limpopo:
My journey started a long time ago, when I was still in primary school. GVI used to visit our school every week and teach us about the natural world and the animals around us. It was then that I fell in love with the wild and wanted to learn as much as I could.
At the end of the school year GVI ran a competition for all of the children in my school to have the chance of going on a game drive, around the Karongwe reserve. I couldn’t believe it when my team won! I had never been on a game drive – even though where I lived was surrounded by game parks. In fact none of my family has ever gone on a game drive – I was going to be the very first one!
Arriving at the GVI base we were greeted by the staff and then helped onto the GVI trucks. I clearly remember the excitement of travelling through the reserve with my classmates and wondering what we would see. We saw lots of antelope and were lucky enough to see two male cheetah too.
It was at that moment I felt that I had just found my ‘soul’. I fell in love with the animals on Karongwe and knew that one day I wanted to work as a guide when I finished school.
After I finished High School I joined Daktari Bush School to learn more about our natural world for eighteen months. It was towards the end of this that I was lucky to have another breakthrough in August 2013, I was accepted by GVI as a National Scholar to attend the Karongwe Wildlife Research program for 12 weeks.
That was literally the most exciting 12 weeks of my life. I learnt so much about wildlife, tracking game, the environment and managed to get my FGASA Level 1 Nature Guide Qualification. I felt I was well on my way to achieving my dream of becoming a guide.
My study and hard work paid off when GVI offered me a role as a Research Assistant. That was truly the best thing that has ever happened to me. It was a very emotional moment for me. I felt I finally achieved my childhood dream when I took my first game drive. Now I get the chance to introduce people to the amazing wildlife of Karongwe – just like GVI did for me when I was a child.
Kutullo's journey has only been possible through your support so thank you.
GVI South Africa
We are very excited to report that we have our first scholar from our partnership with Young People Without Borders, a section of the Federation of Young Australians!
Tys is a 17 year old, soon to be high school graduate from Australia who has been selected to volunteer on childcare projects in Nepal for 6 months in 2015. Tys is an aspiring journalist looking to use his skills to spark change in less fortunate parts of our world.
"I basically came across this program through High Resolves which I did at school. In this program we contributed to the community initially a school action project, where we focused on raising awareness for a clean and sustainable school environment and finally a community action project. We visited and talked to other schools and raised a much higher profile of what we were doing at our own school. At the end of each year, both projects culminated in the High Resolves Summit, where every school taking part in New South Wales came together and shared their projects, as well as listen to some notable speakers about issues relevant to the organisation's plight.
This has been further emphasised by the unique opportunity of having been selected to visit a remote indigenous community in rural NSW, and therefore witness the poverty that takes place in my own country."
I now have the belief that volunteering in a developing country would be the best thing I can do at this point in my life. I have come to have the view that the concept of being a global citizen is of absolute importance."
The National Scholarship Program (NSP) is the flagship initiative for the GVI Charitable Trust providing opportunities and training for disadvantaged individuals to allow personal development, team work, leadership and open up further opportunities. The program is also focused upon creating a sense of responsibility both locally and globally and offering beneficiaries the tools to make a difference to their own lives, their community and impact upon global issues, which we hope will be the case for Tys.
Thank you for your support in making this happen.
Exciting news for Jalova hub this month is the start of the National Scholar Program. This program is aimed at developing local people skills, so they can work together with GVI to protect their own region.
Our first scholar, Walter Gonzalez, has been living in Tortuguero for many years, and has worked with Sea Turtle Conservancy for the last two turtle seasons. He is very excited and grateful for the opportunity to work with GVI towards the conservation of Tortuguero National Park, and has been learning all the survey techniques developed in Jalova. The cultural exchange has been beneficial for both volunteers that have been learning Spanish, Caribbean recipes, and the Tico way of life from Walter. Walter meanwhile has been learning new English from his interaction with volunteers and staff alike. Through his experiences here in Jalova, Walter has made friends from all over the world and expanded his opportunities for the future. This is GVI, empowering people to take action through education, cross cultural communication and life changing experiences.
Along with the staff and Walter thirteen new volunteers and interns were trained in Emergency First Responding this month in Jalova. That’s not all that is being learned here in Jalova’s this year, the new volunteers have been learning species identification skills, camera trap techniques, biological survey techniques and community living skills. Some come to Jalova to find out what they want to do in their lives, assist or continue their formal education, and others come simply to try something new in life. Whatever the reason all that come to Jalova learn skills that will last a lifetime.
Thank you for continuing to support this program.
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GVI Charitable Trust Manager