< Kim Young, a recent volunteer on the Hands On Lion Rehabilitation Volunteering - Antelope Park project in Zimbabwe (in conjunction with ALERT) explains why her volunteering experience not only altered her perspective on travel, but changed her views on life... "Just a few weeks ago, I returned from the most amazing, eye-opening, and just plain fun experience of my life. My husband and I spent two weeks at Antelope Park, in the midlands of Zimbabwe, volunteering with the African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT), a four-stage lion rehabilitation and release into the wild program. I’ve always wanted to go to Africa for as long as I can remember and witness the continent’s extraordinary beauty and incredible wildlife, but the more I thought about it and the more I researched it, the more I realized I did not want to just be an observer; I wanted to be involved in Africa, to dirty my hands and expand my mind. [caption id="attachment_424" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Photo Courtesy of Kim & Craig Young"][/caption] We went on daily walks with the cubs (it gets them out in the bush and hones their hunting skills), and collected behavioral data. We cleaned lion enclosures, prepared the meat they eat, repaired fences and roads, and went on snare sweeps. We were privileged to take out some of the adolescent lions at night and witness them stalking and successfully killing prey. We were able to go out with the research team to collect data on ALERT’s Stage 2 release pride, the Ngamo pride. We also had the opportunity to spend time with the four rescued elephants at the park, and go horseback riding through the bush. [caption id="attachment_425" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Photo Courtesy of Kim & Craig Young"][/caption] Working up close and personal with lions is without a doubt, a top highlight of my life that will be difficult to out-do. It is absolutely magical to interact with these amazing cats. But what I didn’t anticipate is how this would alter my perspective on travel. Maybe we didn’t see all the major sites the guidebooks recommend, but we stayed in one place and really got to know it until it felt like home. We met the people who work, live, and struggle in a country that has seen, and continues to see, so much turmoil. And yet, you realize everyone is the same, and everyone wants the same things: decent work at a decent wage, the ability to feed their families and send their children to school, the need to find some laughter and joy in life. And ultimately, it wasn’t just about the lions. It’s also about the human spirit. Meeting people who have less than we do in the form of possessions and freedoms, and yet their spirit and good nature soared above those with seemingly so much more. It was a beautiful lesson to learn in a severely damaged country, where there is a group of dedicated people working tirelessly to save Africa’s heritage." For the full article, please check out http://www.millerhull.com/blog/index.php/africa-a-new-perspective-on-world-travel/. Click HERE for Kim and husband Craig's full 'Africa of Bust' blog. If Kim’s story has inspired you to do the same, you can find further information on our Hands On Lion Rehabilitation Volunteering - Antelope Park project by clicking HERE!