Monday, January 08, 2007

Season of goodwill

We've just been enjoying the festive season in the pool, with not a turkey or brussels sprout in sight... the great outdoors is the place to cook your Christmas dinner! While supping a chilled drink, our fillet steak simply cooked itself on the fire. A few bowls of salad and some bread helped it down, and then instead of lying in front of the TV watching "all-time favourites" we enjoyed some good old-fashioned conversation out in the pool again.

Christmas in our part of the world is a simple affair, with none of the frenzied shopping that accompanies the festive season in many countries in the western world. With the exception of a bit of tinsel and the slightly higher stock level of toys, you'd be forgiven for missing the occasion altogether unless you're a church-goer.

Speaking of the season of goodwill, Kruger Real Estate made a visit to an organisation in the bush called Daktari, a wildlife orphanage run by dedicated husband and wife team, Ian and Michele Merrifield. The Merrifields say, "The idea is to give all kinds of people, including those with disabilities, the opportunity to experience, as a team, the care of orphaned animals." To this end, they have worked tirelessly, mostly with their own money, to create a camp in a remote 700 hectare game reserve. There are chalets suitable for the wheelchair-bound and pathways around the camp to provide smooth access.

As well as encouraging those with disabilities to stay, they are also reaching out to poor local rural communities: recently, they hosted a team of children from Holland and a team of local disadvantaged black children and organised them into mixed teams to ensure that they experienced not only the wildlife but also their different cultures. The week was a great success and they are now raising funds to repeat the exercise.

We were very impressed with Ian and Michele's dedication to their dream: few people would live so closely by their ideals. Their lack of funding is a real shame, but (as their motto declares) they have "made a plan" and managed to create something that will change many lives. Daktari, we take our hats off to you and wish you lots of luck and generous donors!

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