Rural community empowerment in South Africa

by DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage
This feels like coming home -  a warm welcome!
This feels like coming home - a warm welcome!

Dear supporting friends,

You are probably very curious about what we did last month at the Eco Club, am I right :-)? I will tell you all about it, of course, but at first I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Toine Vos and since the beginning of May, I am in charge of DAKTARI’s Outreach Programme. This means also that for the next year, I will be teaching the children at Eco Club, which is without a doubt already the best part of my job. It is amazing to enlarge DAKTARI’s educational impact at the local schools and it really touches me that the children come voluntarily to learn more about the environment and wildlife.

So, what have we been up to the past month? The first lesson was a sad lesson, as Sara, our previous Eco Club teacher, said goodbye to the children. In a relatively short time she managed to built a great relationship with them of which I can only dream of. Her farewell lesson was about music and we learnt about the background of musicology and how music can be linked to animals. For example, did you ever hear of zoomusicology?! In the end, everyone could do a little performance. Even the shiest kids took the ‘stage’ and everyone applauded for each other, resulting in a visible confidence boost to the children. Priceless!

My first own lesson was about animal cognition and the goal was to learn that animals are smarter than one thinks. We read about birds, chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants, supported by video material of particular smart animals. As soon as the children saw the video of an elephant painting a beautiful tree, they were blown away. Mission completed.

Another Eco Club was dedicated to animal populations and their dynamics. All credits for the suggestion of this topic go to Thomas, a smart boy from grade 10 who wished to learn more about populations. After the introduction of the word populations, we discussed J-curves, S-curves and the food chain. Especially the girls did a good job by being very concentrated and active during the class. However, I have to say, the boys should not go unmentioned either. Tyras for example dared to be a teacher for a moment by explaining to his classmates the predator-prey relationship. And he really nailed it! Afterwards, the students did exercises on the topic, assisted by short-term DAKTARI volunteers and I. The individual attention made them visibly feel special and they all seemed to understand it. In the end, Thomas and some other kids came to tell me that they learnt a lot this week. That is the greatest reward you can get as a teacher!

Every six months the most improved children of each Eco Club get a reward, as a way to encourage all of them to do their very best. Thanks to your generosity, this is possible, for which the children and we are really thankful. However, I thought it might be good to involve the children in the fundraising process. Of course, this is only symbolic, but very valuable for example to develop their marketing skills. We started by talking about income and expenses of an NGO such as DAKTARI and made up a couple of awesome ideas to raise funds. Some kids will bake and sell cookies, whereas others will do bob-a-jobs for their friends and family. The process is supervised by Nanatjie and Jeremia; the respective chairman and treasurer. The majority of the students seem to be excited to rock this project. Definitely to be continued!

Last but not least, I would like to thank all of you who support the Eco Club from the bottom of my heart. Like I said, I have only been teaching the Eco Club for one month, however I can already firmly state that this education really makes a change for the children and hence the animals and environment. That is what motivates us and where we do it for; now and in the future!

Take care and I am looking forward to updating you about the Eco Club the coming 11 months.

Best regards,

Toine Vos, Eco Club teacher and Outreach Programme Coordinator

Concentration during the animal cognition class
Concentration during the animal cognition class
Teacher Tyras takes over the populations class :-)
Teacher Tyras takes over the populations class :-)
Koketso - she made a lot of progress last month
Koketso - she made a lot of progress last month


Very proud to join Roots and Shoots :)
Very proud to join Roots and Shoots :)

8th May 2015,

Dear Daktari Supporters,

Replacing Nathalie’s was not as easy task, as she had big boots to fill!!! I am Sara and I am the animal manager at Daktari, and for the past few months I have been running the eco-club.

It was something new for me, and I have to admit it took about 5 minutes for these children to steal my heart. The educational part of my job is the most challenging and complicated, but also the most rewarding. In only 2 months I achieved great results with the children and a personal accomplishment I never thought possible.

I decided to cover subjects that the children are not used to study, talking about issues that are way out of their normal school programme. When the theory of evolution was firstly introduced to them they were very shocked: they refused any believe that does not glorify God as the creator of all human beings and animals.

Everybody has their own believes, and there is no right or wrong, but everybody should be informed. The children were curios about it, they showed interest in Charles Darwin, and I believe this lesson made think, and question themselves and the Bible, and isn’t it question yourself the first step towards improvement!

The need to look better after the animals in the local villages is a necessity, and as animal manager I wanted to participate in the education of the local people about the importance of keeping our dogs free of ticks and fleas, as these can affect the owners’ health and especially the children. The eco-club children demonstrate acknowledgment of the problem, and they show determination to teach their families and friends to look after their dogs better. Thanks to the collaboration of the State Veterinary the local people will be able to get free treatment from the animal technician of the area, and all the children that had pets saved the phone number! 

We also learn about subjects as discrimination and respect towards everybody! We talked about history issues that were essential to stop discrimination in all ways, such as the Holocaust. None of the children were informed about Second World War and I decided to make a lesson about it.

Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage joined Roots and Shoots programme by Jane Goodall. As part of their team we will be involved ion campaigns that involve children, animal and environment. The children wanted to be include and they will come up with ideas in order to improve the community and their personal comfort within their village.

Teenage children are probably the most difficult kids to work with, if they are not inspired they show an attitude and they can bring the class down. It is hard sometimes to keep them all interested and focus, and to keep the discipline, but we always get there eventually. We had few national holidays when the schools were closed, but some children still came and it made our all team very excited and even happier to teach. 

I like to think I can teach the children, but I have to admit what I learn from them, their appreciation of little things, their love of learning and their genuine smiles teach me way more that I could ever teach them!

I could never thank you enough for making all these possible and for keeping supporting Daktari.


Holding our certificate
Holding our certificate
Learning to love our dogs
Learning to love our dogs
Interested and focused!!!!
Interested and focused!!!!
So everybody can see
So everybody can see
Always smiling, no matter what :)
Always smiling, no matter what :)


78 children on the first day at Ramatau!
78 children on the first day at Ramatau!

Dear DAKTARI Supporters,

It has been a long time since there was news from our Eco Clubs as the children were on holiday since November. But first of all, we want to give you the good news that they all passed their exams last year…we are very proud of them :)

At the end of the year, as a nice reward, the best 4 children of each school had the chance to spend a Sunday with us at DAKTARI! We really had great fun, swimming, playing, taking care of the animals and going on a bush walk to the Leopard rock to learn about tracks and different trees.

It was a really nice, sunny Sunday full of joy, laughs, and smiles. Jeremiah, one of our most ambitious learners, actually left that day telling us “I had a fantastic day, I have learned so much and I feel so happy that you invited me at DAKTARI”, which put a big smile on my face :)

After a month break for Christmas, the children are now back at school and since middle of January, we have started our weekly eco clubs again.

What a nice surprise on the first day at Ramatau to see children queuing in front of the class and seeing that 78 of them turned up with the motivation to learn, which shows us that the desire to learn more and more is growing in the school.

Since the beginning of the year we have learnt about different subjects on wildlife and environment such as ecotourism, plastic, rainbows, the different antelopes found in Limpopo and the Food Chain.

We also had some good and fun times as we decorated the eco club classroom at Maachlamele School by painting, drawing and putting nice animal pictures on the wall. The classroom looks now much more colourful and welcoming for more and more students!

As you know, your donations are more than precious and mean the world to us. We still have many ideas and so much more we would like to accomplish! We are still looking for funds to be able to take the children to the Reptile Park in March and cover the cost of petrol, entrance and lunch for about 10 of them. We also would like to continue furnishing our eco club class-room at Maachlamele School.

We will never thank you enough for your support and look forward to give you more news soon :)

Nathalie, Eco Club Teacher

Great Sunday at DAKTARI !
Great Sunday at DAKTARI !
Stephanie & Dolly at Ramatau
Stephanie & Dolly at Ramatau
Thank you Kaghiso for your beautiful drawings!
Thank you Kaghiso for your beautiful drawings!
Eco Club at Maachlamele
Eco Club at Maachlamele
Shilo at the school !
Shilo at the school !


Ian and Michele Merrifield
Ian and Michele Merrifield

Dear GlobalGiving Donors,

Some of you know us personally but others have not had the opportunity to meet us yet.

We, Ian and I (Michele), are the co-founders on site of DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage.

Yesterday, 31st of December, I went again through the list of our donors to check that we did not forget to thank anyone.

The list was long and I realised how many people you are, helping and trusting us. Being touched about it, I had to take time and think about each of you all!

I want you to understand that behind the description of the project on GlobalGiving, there are also two people with passion for the environment and love for our community. We, and our team, are the ones doing the work and making the impact on your behalf. We deeply thank you for choosing DAKTARI as a beneficiary.

Your donation (s) have been very important to us in 2014 and this is why I finished the year thinking about each and every one of you.

When I woke up this morning, believe it or not, I was thinking of you again. Although I wanted to stay in bed, I needed to share my feelings with you and write my gratitude. It is important to explain in simple words how meaningful you are to us. Basically, you kicked me out of bed!!!!

Thank you for being who you are. Your generous support makes it possible for our organisation to exist and to make the community a great place to live.

Remember that to us your donation is much more than a click, and we are looking forward to your support in 2015.

All the best to you, very dear donors.

Thank you.

Dear Donors,

Another great year is coming to an end and all the animals and everyone at DAKTARI, as well as the children at the Eco-Club wish you a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2015!!

No words can describe how grateful we are for your help and support. We could not run this Bush School & Wildlife Orphange without you! All these fabulous moments, bush adventures, joy, animals rescued and released, new babies, children's stories, laughs, teaching program... This is thanks to your participation towards a better world. 

THANK YOU for being here, involved with DAKTARI and our community project and we hope to continue hearing from you Next Year :)


Children, Animals, Volunteers, Staff, Ian and Michele.



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Organization Information

DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage

Location: Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province - South Africa
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Micah Heineck
Outreach Volunteer
Hoedspruit, Limpopo South Africa
$5,822 raised of $19,848 goal
168 donations
$14,026 to go
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