This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write because for the first time in my life I really didn’t know how to say goodbye to the people who have for the first time in my life really made me feel a part of their family. Plus I don’t know how to stop writing about so many things so I’m going to have to post a few blogs I think!!😛
I firmly believe in fate and coming to Cheetah Experience was never on the cards for me originally while I was here in Africa for 3 months, but things happen for a reason and while I was disappointed that my cheetah cub ambassador raising program that was originally supposed to happen in a whole other area of South Africa wasn’t going to go ahead, it was because a better path was in store for me and I can’t thank the Gods enough for throwing that at me as I would have never made it to here and met the amazing people I have here. As fate would have it, I was kindly invited up to Bloemfontein, all the way from Cape Town, to experience a whole new level of life and animals.
Each person here has helped me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to become and I have never met such a team of people who work and mesh so well together, but also towards their follow workers and volunteers. They said great leaders don’t create followers, they create new leaders, and that’s exactly what Riana has done here. Each and every one of you have different strengths and you all bring out the best in each other and I’m a firm believer of building each other up and magnifying peoples strengths rather than focus on their weaknesses and that’s exactly what happens here and why it works so well and every day makes it so easy to smile and laugh and enjoy life, knowing that at the same time you’re making a difference to some incredible endangered animals.
I’ve fought so hard over the years, so many battles, so many doubters and people who have laughed at me and told me my dreams weren’t achievable, but here, I have had had nothing but support, and people believing in me – even when I haven’t believed in myself and I can’t thank you enough for being there for me every step of the way and making me grow into the person I am now.
I am more confident in pursuing my dreams and more determined to continue the life I’ve wanted to live because of all of you. You’ve taught me what it is like to be part of a pride and accepted me for who I am, what I do and what I believe in and not about what I look like and that’s made this biggest difference in my life as I finally believe in myself.
You don’t inspire your teammates by showing them how amazing you are – you inspire them by showing them how amazing they are….and that’s made all the difference to me – you’ve helped me believe in myself and now I’m so glad that I never gave up on going after this one big dream of coming to Africa because I know now it was a path that was supposed to happen, and you were all people I was meant to meet all for different life lessons.
All the animals at the facility are amazing in their own way and I’ve seen quite a few different facilities and ‘sanctuaries’ and this is one that I would have no hesitation in putting my name behind and support every step of the way. The animals are so well looked after – enrichment is one of their highest priorities and the safety and well-being of each animal as well as the staff, volunteers and any visitors is always at its highest.
I think one of the best experiences I’ve had is the care and opportunities that I was provided during my stay. I know from personal experience that it is such a difficult challenge getting involved in the animal industry and getting hands on experience and getting the opportunity to ask as many questions as you can, getting help on assignments, learning new skills and being educated on animal husbandry, their welfare, their behaviours, how to be safe around them…..again, I can’t thank each and every one of you for entrusting me and providing guidance with absolutely every aspect of these animals lives, trusting me with their welfare and that’s how I know that this place is something I can’t wait to share with everyone and work with in the future.
I truly wish you all the very best in each and every one of your journeys and just remember to follow your dreams – they were given to you for a reason. And don’t forget, too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, and kind word, and listening ear, an honest accomplishment or the smallest act of caring – all of which have the potential to turn a life around. You have truly turned my life around. J
Love to you all and until my next blog….. Tegan xoxo