Jessica Doyle, 33, UK – October 2015

Escaping the dark and damp British Autumn was a very exciting prospect last year as I jumped onto a plane off to Malawi to start a month of volunteering at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. After a lovely warm welcome and a tour of the centre, it was time to get stuck in… There are several orphaned animals at the centre that have all had various tricky starts to their lives. When I arrived a baby vervet monkey named ‘Sprog’ had recently been brought in, and I was able to spend some time caring for and giving him the much needed attention a baby monkey needs. As his health improved, his cheeky personality began to shine.
And being a primary school teacher, I was very excited to get involved in the education side of the centre, wherever possible and this was something which everyone at the centre was more than happy to help organise. I was able to spend time with the fabulous education team, accompanying them on their outreach into some of the local schools. The centre has an extremely well planned and inspiring education program offering several modules focussing on animal welfare and environmental conservation.
All of the staff at the centre are clearly passionate about their work and the welfare of the animals within the centre. This really rubs off on you while you are there. Everyone is more than happy to help and share their experiences ensuring that you have lots of fun along the way.
All in all, a real experience of a lifetime, made more by the stunning location, a vervet monkey called Sprog and more importantly the incredible people I met along the way. Reminiscing and looking through my hundreds of photographs, I would leap at the chance to do it all again. I would recommend anyone, given the opportunity, to grab it with both hands, or alternatively make it happen for yourself, you won’t regret it!