My time with EHRA has shown me beauty of the wild that I have never experienced before. At times beauty was shown to me by landscapes – colorful and vibrant sunsets, wide immense sky, sparkling stars and warm sand that sustain desert life.
The beauty is also contained in the animals of the wild. I feel privileged that I was allowed to, however brief of a time, be part of their world. The elephants, who no doubt have had experiences with human brutality, still chose peacefully to let us observe and enter their habitat during patrol week.
The beauty of this experience was also portrayed by the people that I met during my time with EHRA. EHRA is doing great things for conservation and I was able to begin to understand the complex relationship between humans and their environment during my 2 weeks. After talking to local villagers where we built the wall, it was apparent that great progress is being made – both in the physical (the wall) and the abstract (thinking). Younger villagers frequently voiced that they were no longer as fearful of elephants and understood them better, which no doubt could be credited to EHRA’s work. None of this understanding would have been made possible if it weren’t for Chris’s great passion and knowledge. He is a great teacher. Mattias instinct and insight also added great value to my experience. The camaraderie of other volunteers, fireside laughs and hard work definitely brought people together and made my trip more meaningful.
One-eyed Willy, the base camp’s dog, also taught me about the beauty of Africa. This is a dog that was adopted from the desert. He is missing an eye, has scabs all over his body and smells, but he is loving, loyal and hopeful. Just like Africa – there are things which may seem ugly, I was at times shocked, disturbed by some peoples relationship with their environment, but progress is being made and there is hope in the deep and immense beauty that the land and people here hold.
As I did that project now for the 2nd time I kind of knew what to expect, but the great thing was that it turned out to be so different to my first trip, but in the best way possible. Its amazing to see how people, different in gender, age, nationality and attitude end up being the perfect mix and team, full of fun and trust.
I found it very nice to see locals helping us building the wall and learning more and more about the changing situation, especially the change EHRA did to the people, even if it is small steps.
On patrol we’ve seen elephants everyday, often so near,that we could have touched if we wanted to. That was a very special and absolute magical moment I was happy to share. To see those beautiful animals just wandering around you creates so many happy faces. Over and over again its one of the most beautiful things to see. Mattias and Chris are two of the most inspiring people I met. The way Mattias tracks the elephants, and in the end really finds them….It’s amazing!
The time with EHRA brings out the best in me. Makes one let go of things that bothered you and makes one calm down, only watch and feel the beauty of nature. It felt like coming home. Thank you, again for something so special.
My experience with EHRA has been truly life changing. Your time will be filled with people, animals and environments that will make you change the way you view your own life.
Build week makes you not only appreciate a shower, but also see the change you can make to an environment and community.
Patrol week showed me the true beauty of Africa. The animals and landscapes will always stay with me. None so than watching the sunrise on my last day.
The work being done by EHRA is full of passion. That passion will rub off on you and hopefully make you see things differently.
I have met people from all walks of life during my four weeks here and made some friends for life. I am sad to be leaving, but I have a strong feeling that this will not be the last time I’ll see Africa.
I would like to say thank you to EHRA and everyone I’ve met for a truly amazing experience!
Emily Lawrence – England
Whilst I was a little apprehensive before my arrival, these fears were quickly dispelled by the friendliness of my fellow team members and EHRA personnel.
During the 2 weeks I have met many different nationalities and individuals and as a team I think we bonded to not only build a great wall, but to have loads of fun and laughter.
Namibia is a place of vast open spaces, breath-taking scenery as far as the eye can see. Whether it is the sunrise, sunset or the stars at night, the vista is truly amazing! As regards the camp-everything was organized so well, food was excellent and everyone so friendly. This was the same for both build and patrol weeks.
Chris, as a project leader, has clearly a passion for the elephant’s conservation and Namibia and this is transmitted with such enthusiasm. This has been a truly memorable experience and when I was viewing the elephants, I realized how privileged I had been to see these magnificent animals in their natural environment.
Thank you EHRAxxxxxx
Rebecca Hughes – uk
This trip has probably been one of the hardest I have ever participated in, and I have done a significant amount of travelling. I didn’t anticipate exactly just how tough build week was going to be for me. However, the group synergy and Chris’s energy and great sense of humor really pushed me through. Always the beauty of Namibia haunted me, everywhere I looked I saw stunning Vista’s. Camping close to the earth and the ease with which were living made me realize a few things about my own life. I will go back to England wanting to live a more simplistic lifestyle.
I am so happy that this trip has strengthened me and built my character. I think Chris has outstanding knowledge about Namibia and especially the gorgeous elephants.
I thoroughly enjoyed the structure of the trip and I am very grateful and appreciative to Chris and Mattias for making things as comfortable as possible for the group. I was so impressed with all the delicious dinners that were cooked for us.
I would highly recommend this trip to anyone as I feel it is run professionally with sincere dedicated staff members. There is a strong balance of a hardworking ethnic, fun and play too though I was mesmerized by the elephants!
I will never forget their majestic beauty. I feel a tinge of sadness at the fact that some of the people cannot live in harmony with these magnificent creatures, but I am very happy to see EHRA doing such a fine job at conserving and protecting the elephants. These creatures to me come across as peaceful beings who walk only hunt in define. They live in balance with the earth.and live simply loving their kin unconditionally which is more than I can say about humanity!
Thank you EHRA and Chris for your devotion and dedication, May you be blessed with all the help you need in order to continue your work.
With love Pratima – London – UK
To experience life with EHRA you will face on arid land, with dust and dirt in your hair,skin,eyes and ears. You will also wake at dawn, feel dehydrated and have sand in your porridge
But this is the small price you pay compared to the rich reward you receive from giving a little of your time and effort in helping build the wall for the community, and building relations between them and the elephants. For this you get to sleep under the stars and moonlight sky, you connect with the natural world and you work together as a team. Of most significance you get a unique and special chance to encounter the majestic elephants in their home, and are invited onto their world. To Chirs, Mattias, and the rest of EHRA‘s committed members, thank you for your energy and spirit.
Snita and Liam – UK to N.Z
Chris – Thank you for sharing a snapshot of your life with me after the last 2 weeks. These days I will never forget. They have been a really calming grounding experience- based on new friendships, good food, laughter, working together, common goals, new information, amazing stars, sunrises and sunsets. Sharing your last knowledge on the local animals, plants, people, and solar systems. Chris made that trip that much more meaningful for us all. He was so patient in answering all our questions and dishing out and taking our jokes.
Amongst many highlights on this trip these following are the ones I will cherish he most. Waking up in the middle of our 1st night at base camp to witness a solitary bull silently walking past the tree house and off into the distance whilst I could no longer make him out against the dark of night – I have never felt such ecstasy and this feeling will stay with me forever. Stark scenery of the Ugab region with it’s sandy soil, acacias, rocky outcrops feeling of openness and closeness to nature truly felt after climbing up a number of koppies – particularly above base camp and the koppie on the last day. It has certainly given me a great appreciation of Namibia’s vastness, small population and that it’s a tough environment to eek out an existence.
Elephant patrol sitting on top of the vehicle sometimes holding on for our dear life with Mattias driving. Watching the amazing tracking ability of Mattias through sometimes difficult landscapes ..and flat tyres! and we so often found the elephant herds. It was so special being able to listen to their low rumbles witness their strength and knocking over trees cheekiness in getting close to the vehicles and immense love and protection of their young in terms of building a shield of bodies around sleeping young and using their huge ears to cool and bath themselves and the young. It was truly awe inspiring to see these guests in their natural habitat.
I came onto the EHRA program hoping to make a little bit of a difference to the lives of others, but I know I have certainly been the winner taking away a lifetime of memories much more than I have given. I do hope the wall we’ve helped build will be a great contribution to the lives of the locals, providing them with fresh drinking water. The build week was great for us to practice team-building. Learning lot of new skills which will be useful in the future (especially my certificate in cement mixing!!) The week was as physically demanding as you wanted it to be but with the willingness to participate in all the task gave me a great sense of accomplishment to see our work at the end of the week. It was heartening to have some contribution from the locals as well as government workers which affirmed the keenness to see the wall being completed. They certainly demonstrated to us the speed and skills in cement mixing lugging huge scoops of cement. Around and racing the wheelbarrow around the wall then the rock layers.
Chris – thanks for your insights into African culture and in understanding of elephant behavior and value of these amazing animals for their culture and country. Build week was much more meaningful in understanding about your struggles with the government and locals. I truly hope your educational programs change those attitudes for the better.
Chris your hard work and caring nature did not go unnoticed – for I’m truly appreciative for you are a great person, inspiring calm and couragous and just the right leader to facilitate better relations between people and the elephants. Keep up the stellar work!
Suzzanne McLoughlin- Australia
Work week was hot, hard but the food was good on Friday to see what we completed was rewarding! He Sunday between weeks the res camp, Wi-Fi, pool and restaurant was just what everyone needed. The elephant tracking week we saw elephants on all 4 days. I had several up close experiments with the desert elephants. Were all an excellent volunteer encounters.
******* was this tom