The story of Rachel, our Administrator

Many of our volunteers have met Rachel, and for many Rachel is the first contact at EHRA. Needless to say she is a devoted, inspiring and highly appreciated person among her colleagues, friends and our volunteers. We asked her to tell us  her story.

rachel with the boyRachel working on our School Project at A. Gariseb Primary School at Anixab village. There’s always time for a chat.

So we asked Rachel: how did you end up in Namibia and working with EHRA? 

“I am originally from the UK from a village in Oxfordshire.  I went to the University of Brighton where I gained a business degree.  When I was younger I thought I wanted to be a hi-flying business woman!  During the degree we had to complete a compulsory year in industry, and I worked in the Marketing Department at the Bank of New York!  After this year I realized that it was really important for me to work towards a cause, it didn’t make sense to me to spend so much time and effort working for something that wasn’t making a difference towards making people’s lives or the world a better place.  I thought about changing my studies but in the end I went back to University and finished my degree and decided I would head towards the charity sector.  A friend of my brother in law was heading up the charity department at Capital Radio in London and they were looking for a fundraising assistant which became my first job.

During the interview I was told that one of my main responsibilities would be coordinating the overseas sponsored challenges, which were week-long trekking expeditions where we would take groups of up to 80 people to various different countries.  At no point was I told or even dared to think that I would get to go on these trips!  So after I had worked at the charity for over 6 months, we had a meeting and I was told I would be the charity representative on the expedition heading out to Namibia, which was a smaller group of about 30 people.  The only exercise I had done in the last 4 years was late night dancing! So this was also a challenge for me too!!! I also hadn’t camped since girl guides (which I didn’t like much anyway!).

Johannes (who started EHRA) was guiding for the expedition company we used and so we met on this trip.  At this time I was 21.  We kept in touch and lost touch and got in touch again about 5 years later and at this time Johannes had started EHRA and I could see there was a ‘job’ that I could do and was already thinking to try and change my career so that I could work for overseas charities.  I was heading up the fundraising events by this stage, we had all types of events from film premieres, music events, balls, fun runs in Hyde Park, abseils and of course the sponsored treks.  I had managed to buy a flat (back in Brighton so I commuted every day) so I felt like I could take a risk and if it didn’t work out, I could pick up from where I left off!

So I took a deep breath and decided to leave the UK and head to Namibia.  To Uis from Leicester Square in the centre of London!  Before I left the UK I had meetings with agents that were helping recruit volunteers, which was a relatively new traveling concept at the time and as luck would have it we started taking bookings straight away from one large company, along with another agent Johannes had already organised.

It was hard for me living in Uis, there was literally no one there but the dogs as Johannes was working on the project full time, but I was luckily stubborn enough to stay and try and make the best of it!  We started EHRA with nothing, really no money and just Johannes’ landcruiser, so I couldn’t even leave Uis if I wanted to!! After a while we had rented a small bachelors flat in Swakopmund so the dogs could come with us on the weekends (we had been camping on the beach!!!) and I soon figured out that the supermarket truck left Uis every Wednesday for supplies, so I used to hitch a lift with the dogs on the back of the truck now and again!!!!!! So funny to think of that now!

After maybe 2 years we moved to Swakopmund and then it was much better for me, I made friends and felt much happier!  ”

Rachel receiving the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards: Winner of the best Volunteering Organisation in 2012.rachel with the award

“At EHRA I am responsible for the overall running of the organisation and my work is really varied, from all aspects of marketing, web site SEO social media, working with our agents, diversifying the services EHRA provides, such as the PEACE Project and this year we plan to launch a 7 day Elephant behaviour and tracking course, to coordinating the schools, university and family expeditions, coordinating with the government and conservancies on our conservation work, planning new research and conflict prevention work, to accounting and HR and everything else in-between!  Luckily I have Victro and now Aippi in the office to help me with the ever expanding work load.”

What do you think is the best or most important part of your work?

“The best thing for me is always going to be the times when I am out in Damaraland, even if it’s just to go up to base camp.  To be from the UK, but have access to a wild, natural life is amazing.  To be in camp, sleeping outside under those stars, especially when elephants wander past you is just incredible.

I still am fascinated and love meeting all the people that come to EHRA every year.  I really love the school trips which is the one time in the year that I am out in Damaraland for 3 weeks!  I enjoy being part of the community around the EHRA camp, especially at the school.

I also have the responsibility of managing the EHRA team, it’s a responsibility that I like and looking after everyone and making sure everyone feels valued and happy is important to me.

I think everything that I do is important, it feels like every area of my work is intertwined and all important in making the organisation run as best as it can. ”

If you were not with EHRA, what do you think you would be doing?

“Hummmmmmmmmm  I wonder………….I think Johannes and I were always going to be together and both of us would want to be doing something similar.

If I had stayed in the UK and had not met Johannes, perhaps I would be living in the countryside, goodness knows what I would be doing.  I honestly can’t imagine what I might have done!”

Tell us about the first time you met elephants in the wild? 

“We have a belief that for people and elephants to live together, people need to understand the elephants and know how to behave to keep themselves and families safe when they are around.  It is simply not OK to have dangerous elephants living amongst people, especially for the Ugab area where there are relatively a lot of people, and a school which the elephants walk straight through! So it is so important that the elephants get to know people as calm and peaceful and non-threatening.  When we first started EHRA we were charged at all the time, it was so frightening!!! So my first encounters with elephants were often terrifying!  Nowadays the elephants have calmed down so much, having learnt that people are OK and thanks to EHRA and especially the PEACE Project, people have started to take an interest and ownership of these interesting neighbours, so we have definitely made massive progress in helping to restore the balance in nature.  “

IMG_4993Rachel with her dog Tsaurab in the camp.

 

 

Volunteer Blog 22nd February to 4th March 2016

Monday 29th February – Leap day in Namibia (My birthday too)

What an experience and loving every minute of it! Build week was testing, 41°C at times but really rewarding to see “the wall” finished and serving a purpose. Camp is amazing, I am so impressed with the way it has been organized and with how hard Donna, Chris, Christine, Adolf and Matteus work. The tree house is brilliant and it was a real highlight to see a lone elephant stroll past the treehouse under the wonderful Namibian moonlight.

The food is really tasty and there is always plenty to go round. Thanks everyone and thanks Donna! It is great to see the garden being established in the camp too! Today is the first day of the patrol week and we have camped in a truly beautiful spot and watched an incredible sunset. Not seen any elephants yet but have seen a Springbok, Blacksmith Lapwing and an Eagle. Finally I have been fortunate enough to spend my two weeks in Namibia with a great group of people and feel very fortunate to have been able to experience the EHRA project with them.

Finally I am looking forward to the rest of the patrol week and will keep my fingers crossed that we will see those elephants that we all love and treasure!

Thank you EHRA for working so hard to help protect these amazing creatures!

Becky Dempster (Wales UK)

Ps: Thank you for the birthday wishes too and a big Thank you to Donna for the flapjack, Rachel for the chocolate and popcorn and to my “bestie” Beth for bringing a birthday cake all the way from Kazakstan!

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Tuesday 1st March 2016

Second day on patrol week! Today we woke up to a beautiful sky (in the middle of nowhere) and after breakfast we continued our search for the elephants. The day before we saw a lot of fresh tracks but unfortunately no elephants. We climbed hills and drove a long way so we were all excited to see the ellies. After maybe one hour we got to see elephants from the Mama Afrika herd! The elephants we first saw were two adult females standing to make shade for the sleeping young ones, so cute! We drove a bit further and saw 4-5 more elephants. They are just amazing and beautiful creatures and I could watch them for hours.

Tonight we are camping in a river bed and I am looking forward to dinner. The food has been really good the last 1,5 weeks and I am really impressed by that! It is so nice to cook over an open fire.

Donna and Chris are great and we have a fun and great team of volunteers!

Cheers!

Sandra Thunberg (Sweden)

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Tuesday March 1st

A day on patrol week at EHRA…. You are woken up from your cosy sleeping bag with a smile and a piping hot cup of tea from one of your fellow silly volunteers. A scrumptious breakfast of hot oatmeal is already being cooked. You dress quickly trying not to think about the fact that there may or may not be scorpions or spiders snuggled up underneath you sharing your body heat.

Once everyone is fed and watered and everything is all packed away, we take one last look around our gorgeous surroundings (vast sandy desert with huge mountains and rocks that could very well be in a painting) and we’re off! The hunt is on to find the herd of elephants! Only 10min into our trek we find fresh tracks! We get a lesson on how to read and track the prints and off we go! All of a sudden BAM there they are! Even more gorgeous and majestic then you could possibly imagine.

We spend the rest of the morning admiring these incredible creatures. This is only a few hours into one of the many wonderful days spent at EHRA. Here at EHRA everyday is different and you never know what’s coming up next. Which adds to the magic and raw beauty of the bush.

Thank you EHRA for allowing me to part take in such an amazing and incredible experience. A special thanks to Chris and Donna for everything from being great drill sergeants to being wicked guides. Also to Adolf, I’ve never seen someone mix cement so fast! And finally Mattias for all his tracking expertise and animal knowledge.

Madison Hardcastle

Vancouver Island, Canada

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March 2nd: By Barry Robert John Powell (Jack)

Today is the final day of our patrol week, and marks the end of my 4 week tour with EHRA. Honestly, I feel overwhelmed with how many positive memories I have gained doing my month here in Namibia. It amazes me how people from such diverse backgrounds can come together (in the middle of the desert, no less) for a common cause, and can all enjoy experiencing the same thing.

On my first week, we went to a farm with multiple dams and laid pipes down to cover them with concrete. They let us sleep in this concrete encampment including running water, showers and even a pizza furnace!  After we were done with our work, the family baked us cupcakes to show their gratitude. They also let us shoot their riffle and bow….and arrow (although, it is important to note I broke the good damn bow), and created custom made knives made out of kudu horn, Mopani tree, and  a 60’S Land Rover steel to top it off. I am so grateful to the family for everything they’ve done for us.

Second week we began patrol week and it was a sort of “out of the frying pan, and into the fire” situation. I went from never seeing an elephant before, to being 3 metres away from an elephant family (babies and all)! We camped on sand dunes in caves, and under the Brandberg mountain range. It was truly special.

On the third week, we worked at a site within twenty minutes of base camp. I was ecstatic to be sleeping there, because that is one of my favourite places I had the chance to stay since being in Namibia. Unfortunately I got heat stroke.

Currently I am sitting on the same sand dune that we camped at on the first patrol week. Again, I am so grateful for the people I met here, and the experience I gained here. Back to Canada on Sunday!

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2 March

An amazing trip through the landscape beauty of Namibia. A productive day of seeing a varsity of elephants from 2 herds (including Kinky and her 3 week old newborn). We spent ½ hr waiting patiently for a male to move away from his “poop” in order for us to collect his “sample””conservation research of its finest” as Donna quoted – We stopped to fish and collect more elephant dung for the compost back at base camp. Mattias caught a 3kg catfish (!!) which we managed to put/get into one cooler with the plan to release it in the waterhole of the elephants back at basecamp.

The drive through the land to one campsite was incredible. Like driving on thick sand going on to the horizon – then suddenly the black rocks –then a sandstorm with lightning off to the left – I went from thinking I’d be grateful for a campsite with no wind, to me with no blowing sand to one that was dry – it turns out to be a beautiful, cosy day on protected site.

Kudos to Donna for her incredible driving over the incredibly challenging landscape- To top it all off – an amazing sunset greeted us.

Back to base camp tomorrow – and to be honest – really looking forward to a shower.

Cheers to all – wonderful new friends and a gorgeous country!

Allegra (Boston, USA)

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March 2nd 2016

Another amazing day touring the Namib desert, fantastic views of this diverse landscape stretch into the horizon, Springbok, Gemsbok and Elephants. We passed through a dust storm, had a wonderful lunch under a big tree  and saw the smallest baby elephant I’ve ever seen. Just another day with EHRA. A great thanks to my fellow volunteers, Chris and Donna as well as Mattias for making patrol so amazing….oh and I’ve never experience such magical stars in my life.

Cole McLellan (Vancouver Island, Canada)

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Volunteer blog 8th-19th February

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The volunteers from this group were once again a diverse pack, from Germany, United States, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Some of them are continuing with us, so you may hear their stories later as well. They started their journey on the building week, helping at a farm close to Kamanjab. This is a place where elephants are often seen at. The group was working hard,  restoring the Farmer’s water points- one big and another smaller one, especially beneficial for smaller animals and elephant calves. They also dug the Farmer’s water pipes under the ground, out of Elephants reach. Volunteers enjoyed their time at the farm, and the story tells that the Farmer’s family taught them some archery and  even baked delicious cupcakes for them, what a nice treat!

Here is how our volunteers describe their experiences:

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Week 2 – Start of patrol week:

Our interesting and fun group is now mixing really well, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group. There are 9 of us in total, with Donna and Mattias finishing our group.

After a successful build week and a relaxing weekend spent at base camp, today was the start of patrol week! Rising early and organising the trucks, we set off down the Ugab River in search of the elephants. After lunch, at about 2 pm we spotted our first heard, climbed to the top of the nearest peak to observe from above. What we originally thought as a herd of 4 elephants actually turned out to be a large herd of females and babies, Mamma Africa’s herd, who died about a year and a half ago and was now Medusa’s herd.

Following them down the river for the afternoon was absolutely amazing, and it was exciting seeing these wild animals in their natural habitat. Once we left the herd, our truck, driven by Mattias, got stuck in the sand, for a few minutes. Caspar and Chris dug the tires while we all kept an eye on the two bulls who were about 10 meters away. Everything got a little exciting when Tsaurab, one of bulls, got incredibly close (and a little angry) at the other truck. Mattias started to clap to shoo him away and both trucks set off for camp. Enough excitement for one day! What will day 2 of patrol be like?

Thanks EHRA, Chris, Donna, Mattias for an amazing and once in a lifetime trip.

Taggie

Kinky and baby female

Tuesday February 16th

For starters, Taggie’s handwriting is very nice!

Today was our second day of patrol week. We drove A LOT today! In the morning we saw several springbok herds, a pair of Ostriches and several types of Kahran.

Shane also says we saw: Ludwig Bustard, and eating chat. We later saw a giraffe skeleton followed by some Rhino skin. We saw several Rhino tracks, but no Rhino…maybe tomorrow! After passing the Doros crater we saw a herd of mountain Zebras and several Oryx along with another Ostrich.

We are now at camp and we started the evening off with popcorn. Arguments ensued over sweet vs salty popcorn. Then Chris burned the last batch. HAHA! We’ll be sleeping in a cave tonight and taking turns on watch throughout the night…we really hope there is nothing that comes through that we need to wake others over :)!

Dawn and Grit

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Wednesday, Feb 17th

3rd Day of Patrol week starts at 6 am with a hot cup of coffee. After breakfast we are packing up for elephant patrol. We have driven 3.5 hrs until we finally reach the Huab river. On our way there we see quite a number of Zebras and Springboks. After arriving at Huab river we struggle a bit finding a fresh elephant track. But before tracking elephants we are collecting elephant dung for Chris’ vegetable garden at the base camp.

After lunch we continue tracking elephants. We are finding four elephants belonging to the H1 herd. Since the H1 herd has a new born baby we are keen to find the rest of the herd. We are meandering through the Huab riverbed until we find a fresh track. Following the track we are spotting a big Ostrich herd (15 ostriches), a herd of 30 Oryx and a herd of 70 Springboks. Finally we found the rest of the H1 herd. But we are surprised by the number of elephants, we counted some 20 elephants. According to Chris the herds H1 and H2 had met. Chris recognizes two new babies, so in total we had the luxury to watch four babies. We could also watch two young bulls fighting. We are all very lucky and happy about the nature life we were privileged to witness today.

The day ends with a nice dinner at camp fire and an examination run by Chris focusing on elephants. It was another great day!

Thanks to Donna, Matthias and Chris

Andre

Chris sunset freedom

19th February 2016

The last 2 weeks was awesome. We helped a farmer here at Kamanjab and had the chance to see the new babies in Huab-river.

Thanks to Donna, Chris and the EHRA staff

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Volunteer Blog 25th January-5th February

This group seemed to enjoy their time a lot working hard and patrolling the wildlife in Damaraland. They were very lucky to experience newborn Desert Elephants as well as some other animals. Please read more about their experiences below:

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Tuesday 26th January

So my first day building today and I had no idea what I was going to be doing, never been near cement before! I was kindly woken up by two of the other volunteers with a cup of tea and we got prepared for a day’s hard craft. At the campsite where we were building we were told there was no water. So we spent the morning back and forth collecting what we needed – water from the natural spring (and the guys are so inventive with what little they have to collect it!), rocks to actually build the wall with and sand to mix with the cement. After spending lunch chilling back at camp to miss the midday sun, we went back out again. We all get mixing (I soon learnt by watching the guys get straight to it) and building. And wow, how time flew and it seemed we didn’t get far in that time. But, given how very hot it was and how quick we got the first part up, it really felt like an achievement. We’re a small group so we did a lot in the time we had. It was hard! I’m so chuffed to be involved and put in a little for something so worthwhile. A nice evening preparing dinner and hopefully a good sleep under the stars ready to do it again tomorrow, and I must remember to get up and serve tea to my fellow volunteers too!

Mary

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Thursday 4th February 2016

Yebooo! I have been here for four weeks now and it’s been an amazing trip, full of experience and memories!! First of all it is so great to meet new people from different parts of the world. The first two weeks was really nice, we saw both Mama Afrika and G-6 herd in the patrol week. It was so nice to see them from really close! Namibia is a really great country with so many amazing landscapes especially where the camp is. It’s been so great to see so many stars every night and to be able to see the sunrise everyday and with amazing sunset also. I’ve learned so much here with the people, the culture and this way of living. It goes from cooking to respecting and helping others.
In the second two weeks it was another amazing experience with so many new things. We had a bit of swim and also we were able to see a lightning storm in the patrol week. We went to the Huab and were so lucky to see two new born elephants. One was 3 days old and one was 12 hours old. Then on the last, on the way back we saw a leopard.
In the end it was an amazing journey, one of the best things I did for sure and would recommend this to anyone. The ones who were searching this can understand what I am talking about. It is my first time in Namibia and I will come back for sure and coming for EHRA again!
All of this experience has made me realise what the chance we have to live in this beautiful world that we have to appreciate everyday! Thanks for this amazing time!!! Hope to see you again.

Mathieu

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Thursday 4th February

Just over a week ago I wrote about the start of the project and today is now our last day. I have felt exhausted by the heat but rewarded by how far we got with the wall. In 4 days with 6 people, we got halfway and seeing it when we left was a good feeling to have achieved so much. The heat nearly beat us and by the last day of building we all felt exhausted. I was proud to have done something so far removed from my normal life back home and knowing it will make a difference to local people is amazing.
Patrol week this week has been a massive reward for the hard work. Seeing the elephants was amazing and I could have stayed for days/weeks, just following them. We were so lucky to see a new born calf- literally 12 hours old. We also encountered scorpions, snakes and insects. I’d never seen while we camped – luckily I wasn’t the one bitten! Today on our way home we saw so many animals – Oryx, springbok, black backed jackals and the highlight, a leopard! How many people can say they’ve seen that!
It’s been an amazing, exhausting and massively rewarding experience and I’ve learnt so much – how to build, how communities deal with the elephants and how adopted the elephants are to the desert. It’s also given me more to think about when looking at trips to do – being more aware of the impact tourism has on the animals and their environment. Thank to Chris and Donna for an amazing trip and huge respect to Mattias snr who can find elephants in the thickest of bushes! The man is a wealth of knowledge and experience to adventure!
The whole EHRA team work really hard and it’s amazing the work they do. Am sure I’ll be back one day.

Mary

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February 4, 2016

Having just completed my last night of my 2 week stint. I feel very pleased with my decision to participate in one of EHRA’s programs. From the outset Rachel was extremely helpful in answering all of my initial question, as was Victro also. Chris is an absolutely indispensible part of the success of the program. His leadership qualities shine, the fact that he has the capacity to show true respect to everyone of the participants while monitoring a light …and humorous persons makes the experience exceptional. In my opinion he is an indispensible part of the success of the experience. I love the wilderness in general, but have quickly taken to the awesomeness of the desert of Namibia. Protecting animals has always come natural to me, but elephants are so unique, so full of magic, so mind-blowing that wanting to protect them, I believe comes pretty easy for many of us humans.
You can rest assured I will be sending other potential volunteers your way in the future. Please do not hesitate to use me as a resource for recommendation to potential volunteers thinking of coming to Namibia from the USA.
I am grateful for the opportunity you have provided me as a volunteer to experience my 1st 2 weeks visiting Namibia right here with your fine organization! Many blessing to all of you. Keep up the good work.

Ron Margolis, Durango, Colorado, USA

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4.2.2016

Okay! Let me tell you a story about a Swiss guy called Bruno. He went to EHRA for four weeks. He had such a great time here. But first when he arrived from Mozambique he was sad, because his baggage didn’t arrive. But then he came to this amazing place. He was very excited about the beautiful nature and the charming people around here. He met some new friends.
While he was staying here, he had a lot of different things to do. These were 3 types of work to do.
1. Work at the camp/enjoying the camp
The camp here is just beautiful, but also a lot of work here. Bruno had to do the dishes, cooking and help in the vegetable garden. But these were also a lot of fun things to do: playing cards, playing Botcha (I don’t know how it’s called in English, but it’s the thing with the heavy balls but the most fun was relaxing beneath the amazing sky. The sleeping on the platform also was very impressive for little Bruno. He had a great time at the camp with both groups he was being here.
2. Build week(s)
For Bruno the Build weeks were fun, but very strong! He took up a lot of big rocks. In the first week the group had to finish a wall. In the second build week they started another wall. They also had to mix a lot of cement.
3. Patrol week
The patrol weeks were just amazing. On the first patrol week we’ve seen about 30 elephants. From small to big females and males. Sleeping outside the camp was very fun. On the second patrol week we did go to another area, which was completely different to the first. The landscape there was unbelievable. Bruno also got sting by a scorpion. His arm was hurting and that is the Geschichten von Bruno while he was working for EHRA!!
Thanks a lot to all the people of EHRA. It was a great time with you. Hope we will meet again!!

Greetings from Bruno (Bruno is not a von Gogh or a good writer) from Switzerland!!!

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Volunteer blog 30 November – 11 December 2015

Volunteers on sand
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Monday 7th December 2015

The last volunteers of the year

We are the last volunteers of the year and have an awesome group. We have Simba from Germany who is here for 12 weeks, Sophia and Lukas from Germany doing this for 8 weeks, the Swiss Sylvia and German Jonas for 4 weeks. Then there are the newcomers, two Kiwi sisters Karyn and Sian, the Australians Shane and Derek, the Swiss Stephi, the German Evan, the American Brand and the Scottish Craig.

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We are the first group to build a wall in 1 day for a widow and her three daughters, 5 hr drive from base camp on a remote farm. We really enjoyed camping under the Namibian night sky, cooking over a wood fire and drinks with the family. But not so much the scorpions, spiders and a massive Solifuge (Sand Spider) which sent some girls screaming!

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Saturday we all enjoyed the loud, funny, and very drunk end of year party!

Today we started patrol week and we had an amazing day. WE were surrounded by two herds, tracked two bulls. Now we are camping on the slopes of the Brandberg Mountain having spaghetti carbonara.

Thanks EHRA for a fantastic time!
Karyn and Stefi

Volunteers at the elephant safety poster
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Volunteer trip-2nd November – 13th November 2015

2nd November group pic.jpgIt is only the second day of my adventure with EHRA, but I already know that this experience will be the best of my life.

The people are amazing, the staff is wonderful and the landscapes are speechless. If one person tries this foundation they would understand what a dream I am actually living in.
Gabriel Tasso, 03/11/2015

Elephants underneath a tree

Its Swiss and German simples!!!
Dr Rajesh Dasi
We start the day in bed, with coffee which I obviously want to drink. Building a wall seems simple but collecting the heavy rocks is not as easy, especially in the African sun. However it made me realize how we take things for granted. It also opened a window to experience the life people in Africa live, especially when it’s very hot and there is only little water (because I didn’t get the opportunity to take shower in 3 days)
It’s good to experience why everything in Africa is Hakuna matata(no problems) when the vehicle broke, our popular Adolf drove back to drove back to the base camp to get parts and fixed it all on the same day

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10/11/2015
Today was our second day of patrol and much better once we got rid of the French film crew. So far we’ve seen elephants on both patrol days and it has been AMAZING! Yesterday afternoon we saw Tsaurab, one of the bulls in one herd. He was so close we heard the water sloshing as he was drinking!
So far the trip has been brilliant with a great group of people, although a bit much some of the time!!! Waking up as the sun rises with tea and going to bed under the stars is beautiful.
This afternoon we went to find the herd again because one of the babies had fallen in a septic tank. Thankfully it was on-probably just a bit smelly. We tracked the herd for a while. I watched them wander off to find more water with the Brandberg Mountain as the background. It was so beautiful! This trip has been such an awesome experience. I wish I could stay for longer but I will definitely be back.
Hannah Hartman, 21, England

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10/11/2015
I expected to see stunning landscapes. And yes, I did.
I expected to work pretty hard. And it was actually even harder than I expected it to be, but I liked it.
I expected to track wildlife and have the time to observe elephants in the desert, and yes we did. And with a guide like Chris, you get answers to questions you never dared to ask.
What I honestly did not expect is that this is also a stunning wild and interesting experience in sharing time (27/7) with people who were total strangers only 10 days ago. You eat with them, cook with them, sleep next to them and get to know them in a way that usually takes weeks or months – here it all happens within a couple days.
Tina

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11/11/2015
Alison Van Der Linden (“Sheila”)

Today is Wednesday of “patrol week”. We got up early to head out and drove for 6+ hours to get to our final campsite – seeing kudu, oryx, Meerkat and herds of Zebra on the way. (Sadly no elephants or Rhino today – yet) Incredible changing landscapes kept us occupied the rest of the day.
Yesterday near the White lady lodge we saw and tracked the “Mama Africa” herd, which had just had a scare when one of the young calves had fallen into a drain. After finding and following the herd we determined that it was okay and back with the herd.(Thank goodness!)
I’ve really enjoyed my time with EHRA thus far. I wasn’t really sure what to expect coming from Australia, much of the info I received beforehand was second hand. I was a little worried about the heat, working outside and also being much older than the other participants (i.e. /not being able to relate to each other). But the experience has been amazing and exceeded all explanations! The work was hard (physical) and it was hot – but I could have expected that. The group has been a blast – a real mix of ages, gender and nationalities, including the hilarious “swiss boys” on their gap year. Between us we’ve stayed motivated during build week and comradely in patrol week. Hopefully I’ve made some lifelong friends (Chris included,haha) and made a difference to the Desert elephant population in Namibia!!

Thank you EHRA for all the wonderful, positive work that do and our GRAP/Project leaders Chris and Donna (Doner))
Keep up the fantastic work!
(I’m still threatening to send my parents over to do the program soon)
Ali(Alison) van Der Linden
From Dubbo, Australia

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It is the last night of my second patrol week. Having been with EHRA for almost four weeks now, I have had the pleasure of sharing many great memories with lovely people from all around the world. Living out in nature for such a long time must have been the best thing I have done. So far every single time someone spots an animal I still get a rush of excitement , it is wonderful to see so many different animals in their habitat and being “allowed “to stay close by – especially with the Elephants.

Volunteers watching elephants.jpg
I think the most important thing I have learned out here thus far was respect. Respect for nature, animals and more. Seeing the herd with the calf that had an “accident” showed me that as a human you might want to get in between, see how it is doing, help it and care for it. But as a fact it is not always necessary or needed. We should respect the ways of nature, boundaries that are existing between humans and elephants. Leaving that and appreciating it, I guess that is what EHRA is about. It’s the relation and not the relationship which should be protected for a good existence.
Sorry, going too deep….again! Loving it! Loving halftime 4 more weeks to go!
Sophia Kappus

Volunteers in laying down.jpg

Volunteer blog – 19th October – 30th October 2015

(The …… are words Rachel and Victro in the office cannot read from the blog!! If you wrote them please email and let us know!!!)

Volunteer group photo
Hello, Hi!
What a day! 3 elephant bulls(Voortrekker included) , 15000 year old wall painting and a wonderful trip through the ever-changing landscape of Damaraland. It is wonderful to know that you can share an epic time with people that you have met just a few days earlier – maybe a week ago but still sharing laughs, memories, Gin and Tonics and Marshmallows. Sorry for breaking your perfect stick….sharing the ….aerodynamic super chairs, the lovely Texan ….brought along, it has been a great day.

Volunteer pouring cement on rocks
Having enjoyed a beef curry in the moonlight – one day till full moon – and wondering if we might be visited by elephants tonight are just a few things I’ll fondly look back on when I’m back home remembering the first day of patrol week.
It strikes me with excitement to share this trip with a great group of people. Always keeping each other updated of things to see along the way, thinking of funny car games and sharing some awesome snacks while sleeping in the midday sun!
Day 1 of Patrol week – Great start! Looking forward to Day 2, more elephants, more ostriches and maybe one or two giraffes.
Sophia

Volunteers resting

Tuesday, Lunchtime on patrol in the Ugab River. We have just watched a big bull elephant meander away from us, 100 yards to our right. I claimed him as “my elephant” – the first I spotted before Chris said “There’s an elephant”. Maybe I’m beginning to get me eye in.
Lunch, again, is cheese, ham, jam, peanut butter. You learn to make one slice at a time or the sandwich dries in your hand as you eat. The crusts are nearly toasted within 10 minutes.

Volunteers preparing for wall building
Today’s pee stop is the big camel-thorn about 30 yards to the left. We cannot use the denser bush in front of us as there is a young bull we passed a few hundred yards further down. He may decide to follow the old bull into the bush so we stay clear. We cannot use the denser bush behind us as there may be elephants there too. We have already seen how half a dozen elephants can disappear behind one dense patch. That would be a big surprise for a pee stop!
I find these rules comforting. Mattias and Chris know what they’re doing. I feel safe and so privileged. And yet not so privileged – proud that I worked last week in searing temperatures, building those walls. This is a small piece of heaven and I am so happy I took the plunge to be here.
Rachel

Volunteers collecting rocks

YEBOOOOO! Had an awesome week with crazy Germans and a lot of mommy’s 
I want to come back! Braaing sausages with Chris!
A camp in the middle of the desert. How could I describe this week. A guide, who is more than crazy, a group, which gets messed up! Love it  What should be so nice to stay without wifi, electricity, and often to go to bed soaked with sweat!
I don’t know. I cannot say why it is so fascinating, but it was very nice because you have the feeling to help people.

Lucas

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