Rural community empowerment in South Africa

by DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage
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.


Machlamele Eco Club children and I
Machlamele Eco Club children and I

Dear DAKTARI Supporters,

My name is Nathalie and I have been volunteering at the Eco Club for the past 3 months and I must say that it has been a wonderful experience for me… :)

This experience is so rewarding and as you know….the eco club program could not be possible without your donation and continuous support!

A good news at Machlamele School is that we now have our own Eco Club Room. This classroom is dedicated to the Eco club and the children and I are very happy to have our own space to learn. We have started to furnish it…bought tables and chairs, some curtains, and have been donated some cushions to make a nice living room space in it! We have also planted trees and flowers to decorate the room and also to teach the kids to care for them…

Francois one of DAKTARI volunteer has also made a wooden filling cabinet for the children to keep their folders.

Slowly but surely we want to decorate this room and make it a confortable space for the eco club kids to enjoy coming and learning in it. 

But one of big project we have run with the children in the last month is the preparation of a big event in their village, The Oaks. Part of our Outreach program we are currently working on is a long term project to make the village a “eco friendly village” to be able to attract and welcome tourists. Therefore we must gather the population and educate them on the importance of having a clean village and taking care of the environment. Our best ambassadors being the children of the village, we decided to make a speech and a show event in order to motivate the population.

The children have written a song about the importance of having a clean village, and they have prepared the show by singing and dancing. It was really great fun but also very educational..

Last week we started the project and it was very nice to see the community participating but also the children coming to show the example…this project is on going and we look forward to tell you more about it in our next report.

Beside that big project, we have been caring on our lessons about animals care and environment and watched videos and learn about subjects as wide as pollution, reptiles, anti poaching or global warning ;)

The children also decided to write some beautiful letters to the anti poachers to thanks them for caring of the animals and stopping the poachers.

As I said this past 3 months have been very exciting and rewarding…its so rewarding to see the children becoming more and more confident and curious about their environment.

At the present they are all in exams period until the end of November. We wish them good luck and we all look forward to restart the Eco Club in about 3 weeks time.

As you know, your donation is more than precious and means 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 and cover the cost of petrol, entrance and lunch for about 20 of them. We also would like to continue furnishing our eco club room and by the end of the year, if possible, take them on another game drive for them to Makalali Game Reserve.

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

Nathalie, Eco Club Teacher

The new Eco Club classrom :)
The new Eco Club classrom :)
Thank you Francois for the wooden filling cabinet
Thank you Francois for the wooden filling cabinet
Planting trees for the classroom
Planting trees for the classroom
Cleaning the Oaks Village Project !
Cleaning the Oaks Village Project !


Mirabelle is very excited to go to school
Mirabelle is very excited to go to school

Dear Daktari Supporters,

I have been volunteering for DAKTARI as the new Outreach Manager for 3 months now, and I am enjoying it a lot :).

It is for me a very new experience and I am learning every day about the real African life, as I am getting to know better and better the kids and the community. Africa is really a magic place, nest of human kind, sweet by the sun shining almost every day and smiling faces. Africa teaches you a lot about Life, people and about yourself, as long as you remain open minded, patient and humble.  You need to find the right balance in each situation, and especially be confident in the magic of life to observe the expected achievements when it is time for them to happen. Not really thanks to yourself, but just thanks to Life, which is slowly moving and evolving through yourself, faithful and humble servitor… More than reason and intellect, it is the heart that is the engine of everything…

These are my first impressions. I do my best in contributing to the kids’ education and in helping communities, and in return, I get great surprises and heart gifts from all people I meet every day.

But let’s talk about our projects. I have a lot of happy stories to tell you :).

However, as you and us are all very busy and do not have so much time to read all what happened these last 3 months, I will send you news more regularly, once or twice a month to let you follow up our achievements and adventures without taking too much of your time.

June and July have been quiet calm at the eco-club, as it was first the writing exams period and then holidays. But as soon as they could come to the Eco-club even during this period, the children were attending happily and attentively our lessons about global warming, recycling waste, rhinos, lions, cheetahs and snakes…

We also have now a very special volunteer who is very excited every time she comes with me to the village or to school: our wonderful dog Mirabelle enjoys a lot her new position of Dogs Ambassador! She is awesome! Greeting nicely everyone, happily shaking her tail and playing with the children. She likes them so much and they begin not being afraid of her :). Hopefully they will soon understand that all dogs deserve to be treated well, as they can bring a lot of love and friendship to us. Mirabelle is also a very clever attendee during the lessons, greeting every kid for their behaviour and participation.

Thanks to your generous donations, we can go on driving to Metz and The Oaks villages twice a week to teach about 40 kids. The villages are located about 30 km from Daktari and you know that petrol is very expensive… 

Amongst other things, we can also provide our kids with useful notebooks and pencils, paintings, scissors, glue,…  as well as sometimes, for the students who work the hardest, some little environmental books they love to read and share with their families and friends.

Without your help, we could not go on educating the youngster of the Community. Please go on supporting our action to help them getting better education and being aware of the importance of respecting their natural heritage, the African treasure.

Remember you can always follow the news on our FaceBook page! (Don’t forget to like it please ;)

Speak more to you very soon.

Kindest regards.

She loves her new T-shirt!
She loves her new T-shirt!
Welcome at school Mirabelle!
Welcome at school Mirabelle!
Everybody listens carefully
Everybody listens carefully
We all enjoyed a lot being together
We all enjoyed a lot being together
In the village, everybody loves Mirabelle too!
In the village, everybody loves Mirabelle too!
The best 8 pupils from Ramatau at the game drive
The best 8 pupils from Ramatau at the game drive

Dear Daktari Supporters,

We’re already halfway through the year – doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?! 

Firstly, the Outreach team would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU for your continued support! Without your generous donations we would not have been able to teach our local children or launch our new and exciting community projects (more about that later!).

Thanks to your participation, we have been able to take our Ramatau eco-club 8 best attendees on a wonderful game drive at Makalali Game Reserve! The children are very grateful as they spent a great day and saw lots of animals, especially a leopard, two cheetahs and lions :)

Our eco-clubs are still going strong! With over 50 children attending at Ramatau and 20 at Maahlamele, we continue to share the importance of looking after our environment and its wildlife with lots of motivated and enthusiastic children.

Despite April being full of public holidays resulting in the schools being closed, we still ran the Eco-club and were thrilled to have many dedicated students in attendance. We've had to improvise and teach the lesson in the back of Daktari’s pickup truck! Even on Easter Monday, 15 children still came to Ramatau to learn (and of course were awarded with some Easter treats). It is fantastic to see these young people so eager to learn despite having a day off from school!

Some of our volunteers kindly ran a couple of lessons for the Eco-club. The students were taught all about diabetes (and tested their blood sugar levels!) and Russia (wrote their names using the Russian alphabet.) Check out this video of Dasha and the students singing in Russian…

Learning a russian song at Ramatau eco-club

To celebrate the Earth day on April 22nd, the kids wrote letters about saving our environment and did a very good job. You can be very proud of them.

Here is Zulu’s very nice letter, from Ramatau eco-club:

EARTHDAY speech by Zulu Walusungu 

In other very exciting news, we have recently launched our new Home-Stay family project. Our international volunteers stay for 24 hours with Maakosha and her family in The Oaks village, living a day in her life; cooking pap, helping to sell her fish at the market, wearing traditional African dress and meeting the locals. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to see and understand how our students live as well as providing extra income for Maakosha.

We are also setting up a solar cooker business selling these energy-efficient and environmentally friendly solar cookers to families in the community, saving people money, time and the environment. Follow us on Facebook for updates.

Finally, we have very exciting news about Kutullo. Check out our website for details!

Big news to announce about Kutullo... 

After 10 months of hard work to develop the Eco-club project and other new ones she did very well, we have said goodbye to Claire in April. Welcome to Jane, our new Outreach project manager, who is taking over in May.

Check out our Facebook page and website to keep up to date with our projects.

Without your generosity, the Outreach Programme wouldn’t have been able to flourish and grow; once again, many thanks from Daktari team and children!

The Lion king is there!
The Lion king is there!
Lisa at Maakosha
Lisa at Maakosha's home stay
Rakoma is studying very hard at Ramatau eco-club
Rakoma is studying very hard at Ramatau eco-club



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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
$6,606 raised of $19,848 goal
177 donations
$13,242 to go
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