Some people come into our lives and you now that they’re one of the good ones. While doing my own stint as a lion conservation volunteer at Antelope Park in Gweru, Zimbabwe, I met Sharon Rose – she was one of the kindest and most enjoyable people to be around. She would always be cracking jokes, and was a force to be reckoned with when it came to chopping up a dead cow with a dull blade. Yet she knew how to bring fun into the more mundane tasks that us as lion conservation volunteers may be asked to participate in. In this third installment of “Meet a Lion Conservation Volunteer” we get to meet the ever lovely Sharon Rose – who has managed to incorporate socially responsible travel and voluntourism into a lot of her travels.
Meet Lion Conservation Volunteer: Sharon Rose
Sharon aka Shaz, Shazza, Shags, Rosie… who is biologically 40 years but mentally 20 something, Australian who since 2000 has had a passion for travel and making the most of what life throws my way. She worked in Brisbane, Australia as a Personal Assistant for the Director of Nursing in hospital, but recently has traded it all in to rejoin the Antelope Park team as the Community Donations Coordinator! She has described this job opportunity as a dream come true.
1. How did you find out about ALERT & Antelope Park?
After returning from my 2011 East Africa highlights overland tour, feeling restless and longing to be return, I stumbled across a documentary series “Lion Country”, immediately captivated and when I heard the words “volunteers”, speedily “Googled” and I found my next holiday destination – Hello Antelope Park, here I come!
2. Why did you choose voluntourism as a way to spend your vacation time?
I have previously done voluntourism in Bangladesh in 2008, I’m drawn to giving back, getting to know the people in the community and equally gaining new skills and experience. Voluntourism is away for me to follow my passion whilst still getting paid by my real job.
3. What is your favourite memory of your time at Antelope Park?
Tough question so many grand memories – the whole experience is a unique memory. AP sum it up pretty well “Where else in the world…” can you walk with lions, herd elephants, cut up cows, meet fabulous people from all corners of the world, ride in the back of utes on the highway, make toys out of poo…
4. What was your favorite activity and why?
Meat prep! The barbaric, inner cave woman in me came out. I never thought I would ever be capable of cutting up cows and donkeys, let alone tomahawk open a fetal sack, with a baby cow still inside, cut the umbilical cord, and hold it up like a prize catch – insane! Very different to my sedate, office desk job, chained to the computer, in a windowless office. Bring on meat prep anytime.
Also walks with the gorgeous lions – but that’s a given favorite activity.
5. Were there any aspects of the volunteer program at Antelope Park that you felt could be improved?
At times felt like that we were being asked too many times to donate more $’s i.e. for the zebra, for the orphanage shopping, school fees. I worked 2 jobs to save the money to get to AP and didn’t have much extra other than for my trip, perhaps is was just my own thoughts but I had moments of feeling of guilt of not being able to contribute but know I was contributing with me being there.
6. What did your time at AP teach you that you didn’t already know?
Liking my own company – as I’ve “matured” I come to appreciate my own company more and in the early days of my volunteering, at time felt a little on the outta BUT I wasn’t bothered as I was there for the experience. After a few days and getting to know the other volunteer this disappeared.
It also reminded me of my levels of patience and tolerance…
7. Going forward, in what ways will you continue to support and advocate for the plight of the lion?
On my return I shared my story and experience in our work newsletter that is read by approx. 5000 staff. Encourage friends and family to travel to AP.
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Previously in the Meet a Lion Conservation Volunteer, read what Justine Williams from Canada and Lauren Waterfield from the United States had to say about their experiences as volunteers at Antelope Park.