Morgan’s Diary – November 30, 2016
What it’s like to volunteer at the Love Lions Alive Sanctuary:
I have now spent almost two weeks volunteering at the Love Lions Alive Sanctuary and I have had the most amazing experience! Here at the Sanctuary I have my own room, with my own bathroom. There are two single beds in my room, along with a wardrobe to keep all of my belongings in. The view from my room is of the lion enclosures and this huge rock that towers over the Sanctuary! However in the future the plan is to have all of the volunteers stay at the top of the mountain where Carl and the babies Odin and Mulan live.
The building next to my room has a kitchen and a volunteer lounge with sofas and a table. I have spent quite a bit of time there talking, eating and playing cards with the other volunteers. It’s a great spot where everyone usually gathers at the end of the day. We also gather there in the morning around 8:00, with the South African workers to hear what the plan is for the day. Throughout the day we work until 5:00 and take a one hour lunch break in the afternoon. Here at the Sanctuary there is much to do. Since I have been here I have helped with putting up the tent for the sitting area for future volunteers at the top of mountain, as well as a tent for the kitchen area for volunteers.
I have also helped with everyday tasks such as feeding the lions which means driving on the back of a truck and throwing meat over the fence of their enclosures. I have helped to cut up a cow for food for the lions and helped prepare bottles for Odin and Mulan. I have gotten to give Odin and Mulan their bottle, and now feed them meat. I have helped to get sand, stones to mix for cement. I currently am helping to build the deck and flooring of Andi’s home at the top of the mountain. A special occasion while I’ve been here was to partake in moving 5 lions into new enclosures. Andi really tries to include her volunteers in everything that happens at the Sanctuary. This enriches the volunteer experience that much more that you can take part in activities that you wouldn’t get to do in your everyday life.
Volunteering here means doing a large number of things. Each day is completely different than the last, you may plan to do certain things one day and then something else may come up, such as going to get a cow. I enjoy how the experience isn’t doing the same thing everyday, as I feel I would get bored quickly. As well, Andi’s brain is always working a mile a minute. She is always thinking about how she can improve something, or expand. This means that there will always be work that needs to be done here. Love Lions Alive Sanctuary is still developing and establishing itself everyday, so now is a perfect time to volunteer because you get to see the impact and results from volunteering here straight away.
It is such a hands on experience and sometimes you get dirty here, but that is all part of the experience of working with lions. All volunteers are under the wing of Tale and Line, two women from Norway. They have made my volunteering experience greater than I could have imagined. They allow me to try different tasks, even if I am not skilled in them and also allow me excell in areas that I am skilled in. I have gained so much knowledge from them because they teach me, and allow me to try things hands on. I will not only leave here with the experience of working with lions but I will also leave with new found knowledge about the lions, South Africa, construction and building.
I think working with such a small group allows my experience to be very personal. You get to know everyone very well and actually develop a relationship with each person. You don’t get lost in a big group of people, and everyone here knows you by name which makes you feel like you are part of a team. Andi is so great as well, teaching me about the lions, their behavior, her thought process behind how she interacts with the lions, and about the lion situation in South Africa. She really took the time to show me around the property and of course show me the lions. I’ve gotten the opportunity to see her with the lions and the wonderful relationship she has with each one, which is an experience you do not get just anywhere. She made me feel very welcome, making herself available if I needed anything. She checks in regularly to see how I am doing and if I need anything. I feel very well looked after here and as if I am just part of the team.
There is no doubt in my mind that I want to come back and volunteer here again in the future. This place has a way of capturing your heart, not only from the lions, but from the landscape, the people and the culture.
If you enjoy working in a small group where you can develop relationships, work with lions hands on, and make a difference that you can see right away then volunteering at the Love Lions Alive Sanctuary is the place for you! You can visit their website at lovelionsaliveproject.com to find information about the Sanctuary, volunteering and prices or looffoundation.org to find out more information about our support at the Love Lions Alive Sanctuary!
Lööf Foundation representative