People often ask if we have a volunteer program set up, and our response is no. We don’t, but we did have a special group come this week. They have volunteered at other elephant sanctuaries, and after pages of warnings about heat, bugs, and how basic life and accommodations were here, they were still willing to come.
Nine lovely individuals, all part of the Stews 4 Elephants group (American Airline flight attendants) arrived early this week and more than lived up to whatever our expectations could have been. Their stay was only four days (or a week depending upon how you look at it ), and they were determined to get as much done as possible.
Through bug bites, blazing sun, some delirium and evening tick checks, they kept working and had a tremendous impact completing tasks that, because of our small staff, would take months to do. And all of it was done with sarcasm, laughter, and heart.
We beyond appreciate all they were able to get done this week, but we also really adore the individuals and spending time with such a sweet and sassy group that worked and played so well together. They definitely brought a much-missed piece of home to sanctuary and joy to each day.
For those who are wondering what volunteering will be like here, some of the tasks they worked on were: expanding Alma’s yard (our non releasable, blind tapir), clearing out the garden and building the structures and wiring for shade cloth (necessary during the dry season), prepping a metal deck for painting and tearing down and rebuilding a significant section of fencing. Lots of hard work, but lots of smiles.
We were thrilled to get to share with them what sanctuary means to our elephants and us. And we were also really happy that they chose to share a bit of themselves with us. Our house feels a little emptier, and we miss them already.