I am sorry I am not able to get up any photos as Wifi is still down and I’m using one of the workers phones and in this rural area getting photos uploaded in next to impossible but here is the account of the last three days of our volunteers. I hope you enjoy it!
The first day at the sanctuary!
It’s here, it’s finally here! The day where we arrive at the elephant sanctuary. We spent the few hours that it takes to get to the sanctuary playing games where we all got to know each other a little better as we relayed embarrassing stories about ourselves.
We spent the morning getting our feet, learning the basics about the sanctuary.
Then at 3 pm we got to prepare the food for the Elephants afternoon snack. Once we prepared the watermelons, pumpkins, bananas and sugar canes it was time to carry the baskets and meet the Elephants.
You could see it in the Volunteers faces as the two elephants first came around the hedge. It is something that never fails to move me, to see the volunteers awe and wonder on first seeing these majestic beasts.
They then got to hand feed to the two elephants Arun Rai and Kumlin. The two elephants were rescued from some terrible conditions and the volunteers get help reinforce the positive influence that the sanctuary has had one these two amazing creatures.
Now at night, after an amazing dinner they’re watching a documentary on elephants. It is eye opening and a little soul destroying as it teaches how brutal the ‘domestication’ process is for the elephants. There are few dry eyes left at the end of the video.
It has however strengthened the already strong resolve of the volunteers to make a difference. They seem eager to get up in the morning and help the sanctuary in any way they can!
Our second day we got stuck into the work here at the sanctuary!
As the days progress I am constantly amazed by the volunteers, their enthusiasm for the work, the energy they bring to the projects, the changes they are making but most importantly how they interact and get along with each other. The friendships they are forming are so warm and evident I can’t help but count myself lucky to be a part of it!
We split up into two groups, one group went out to the dam to repair and work on it so that the Elephants will have a reliable water and bathing source even in the dry season. It involved more cement (Yay!) and moving rocks! Then in the afternoon this group was lucky enough to head down to the smaller dam and jump in the water and wash Arun Rai. It quickly descended into a water fight in which everyone got a little drenched but the grins on everyones face when we got out was awesome!
The other group got down and dirty cleaning out the geese enclosure and mucking out their pond. It was messy but luckily we had music to keep us motivated as we finished the cleaning and moved onto planting fruit and vegetable trees into the garden for the future use of the volunteers and the elephants.
Then in the afternoon we retreated into our bungalows as the afternoon rains hit hard, making it clear the monsoon season has well and truly started. There we spent the afternoon having fun with games or just sitting down and talking.
Now again I write this blog while the volunteers watch the video on the work we do here, the reason why we’re here, but most importantly the volunteers are beginning to truly appreciate how effective the work they do here is and the positive ripples it will send down through the years.
And on the third day!
There were a few bleary eyes this morning as almost half the volunteers stayed up late last night talking and playing games, well beyond the time the generators turned off. That didn’t stop them from tackling the work load this morning!
We split off into two groups again.
The group that mucked out the geese pen yesterday are now working on the dam. It’s hard work, cementing, moving rocks and dirt but the reward of having a place for the elephants to bathe and drink water even in the dry season is something that helps drive them, they sped through the work in record time.
In the afternoon they bathed Arun Rai! Now both groups and all the volunteers have managed to jump in the water with the beautiful elephant and help wash her down before turning the water on each other for a massive water fight.
The other group went out to the local villages to cut down some sugar canes for the elephants to eat. Before long the group was happily chopping away with their machetes, bringing down the canes before we went to the rice hut and bagged 20 bags of rice shells to use as fertiliser for the massive amount of crops and trees grown at the sanctuary.
Then in the afternoon the first group spent the afternoon planting trees as we slowly restore this forest to its former size. Kumlin was a little curious at their actions and came to join them for a bit, just watching as she ate her way through the enormous amount of food these elephants need everyday.
Then it was another chilled out afternoon spent around our bungalows before dinner and more educational videos on Elephants, the sanctuary and the positive effects our actions have here.