Name: Daria Klenovaya
Currently Living: Ireland
What project did you choose?
If you combined with Lion Conservation, what was the best part about combining community and lions?
Community volunteering was always very emotional and even heartbreaking.
I felt like it was a perfect balance between very sad moments working in the hospital, doing home visits, construction work and super positive moments with all the incredible animals that fill your heart with so much joy and love!
Animals do have a healing power that was much needed after some tough days working in the community.
I honestly think it is the best option as you get to experience all aspects of volunteering with people and animals.
If you were to do your trip again, what would you do differently?
I would stay longer than 2 weeks! I felt like once I got used to everything – it was time to go back.
What has volunteering with the community done for you? How has your perspective changed as a result?
As a volunteer, you are coming with a hope to change someone else’s lives but I must say that the kids, we were fortunate to work with, changed ours.
They shine brighter than African sun no matter what and there is so much we can and should learn from them.
They were the main inspiration for me!
What was the highlight of the trip?
It is impossible to pick only one thing! Everything from the moment I landed in Zimbabwe to the moment I took off from Bulawayo was a highlight!
Going solo and meeting friends for life there was definitely one of the main highlights of my trip!
I didn’t expect to meet so many likeminded people, and that I would be able to call some of them – soulmates!
What is the most important thing you have learnt from working within the local community?
Those two weeks have shown me how life can be enjoyed despite the conditions and circumstances and how little we actually need to be happy.
What is the most special thing you have gained from your volunteering experience?
After volunteering in the houses of local citizens, teaching in rural schools, working in the local hospital and seeing the harsh reality of it all.
I will never take for granted what we have in our life.
What is a typical day in the life for a community volunteer?
I can only describe it as an emotional roller coaster!
There are so many moments that make your heart full and happy during the day but also moments that would leave you speechless and sad, but regardless of all these emotions – every day was special and rewarding, whether it was construction work, teaching in school, working in the maternity ward or helping with cooking in the houses of local citizens who barely manage to survive.
I honestly think Community is the best project to get to know Zimbabwe and its citizens!
You get to know the real situation local population is facing on a daily basis, all the struggles and try to help them in any way you can. It is truly rewarding.
What was your favourite part of the project?
We got to live an African dream! Everything we experienced there, now seems like a dream!
Waking up with lions roaring, going with them for a walk, following the elephant walk, seeing all those majestic animals in the wild and being able to come so close to them – made you feel like you are in the movie.
What extra activities/ excursions did you get involved with as part of your volunteer adventure?
I took part in literally all available events! We had an amazing group who had the same drive for life and eager to participate in everything!
Even though we only stayed for 2 weeks, we still managed to go to Victoria Falls, visit Zambia and Botswana, spend a day at Free to be Wild Sanctuary, go on a Horse Swim, Horse Safari and enjoy the most stunning African sunset at the carriage ride.