My 14 year old daughter and I spent 17 days volunteering at Hippo Haven in Sept and Oct 2011. In the end volunteering was the wrong word as we both felt very much a part of the extended family and it was very hard to leave. We were also lucky enough to share 3 birthdays during our visit which made the stay even more homely. I was very apprehensive to how my daughter would cope but both Karen and Jean from the moment we were picked up from Harare airport to being dropped off back in Harare made both of us very welcome and for my daughter made her stay very special with some of the jobs she did.
For me some of the volunteering (again I use this term very loosely as it never felt like work) duties I was asked to do included wonderful walks through the bush which in technical terms they called snare patrols, road repairs, working on machinery (well assisting Jean more to the point), feeding the family of baboons every morning, driving a great old land rover just to mention a few. In the afternoons and odd days we had animal times which included walks and drives to view some of the local inhabitants. Another cultural experience was a trip to the local town of Chiredzi which again was a real eye opener. We also had a chance to not only game view wild dogs but to assist in darting and collaring one. Another lifetime experience which there seemed to be numerous on this adventure of ours. Not sure how Karen and Jean managed to organize all the animals to appear for us but they did.
To sum it up all can say is if anyone gets the chance to help out and volunteer at Hippo Haven is to go for it. As this is not a commercial volunteering operation it is not only a haven but heaven as well. Will be back very soon.
Chris Wade, Australia, October 2011.
My Dad and I volunteered at Hippo Haven for 17 days over September and October. It was the most incredible experience and I had so much fun. There were many things to do during the days, Karen and I usually did a short patrol in the mornings which was nice and a great walk. Then we would go and visit the hippos which was amazing and we could get very close to them. I did some computer work for Karen, we did some game drives, visited Chiredzi, just relaxed, visited Humani (their nearest neighbours, 18 kms away) and went on picnics in the bush for Karen and Jean’s birthdays.
I got to feed wild monkeys and baboons which is such an awesome experience. Everything was so great and I liked absolutely everything about Hippo Haven, it is such a memorable place! We saw heaps of animals which was great, the people we met were nice and friendly and everything was just brilliant, there wasn’t anything bad about it. Karen and Jean were so nice, friendly and made me feel part of the family. I will definitely be back in the future, I loved every minute of it and it is such an amazing place. Words don’t describe how much I miss Hippo Haven and I can’t explain how much I enjoyed it, it was a truly unforgettable adventure! I would definitely recommend people to go there and see how great it is. Thank you to both Karen and Jean for welcoming us into the family and Good Luck for the future. See video of some of the highlight : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uFl1rhBcts
Neve Wade, Australia, October 2011.