I Left a Boy and Came Back a Man
July 2, 2019

by Ri Galway

Natures Valley Trust is not just an organisation, but an embodiment of hard work and dedication that can only be created by the kind of people that reside within its local community. Before I started my 3-month internship with NVT I was on a game reserve in Limpopo working with GVI (Global Vision International) where I did all sorts of data collection and conservation work with the big 5, however, although that may seem exciting and the ideal work for someone with a love for animals and wildlife in general; the work I carried out in Natures Valley was far more rewarding and educational.

Although at the beginning the change was difficult moving from dry Lowveld to the beautiful oceanside, this magical valley very quickly became home. From the people living there to those that visit: each and every one of them welcomes you with open arms into what I can only describe as the most beautiful and heart-warming community I have ever come across. With scenic hiking trails and breathtaking views, I got fortunate to be sent down to work with NVT as part of my internship with GVI.

Now that I’ve babbled on a bit about how incredible a location Natures Valley is, let me drop the anchor and punch the ticket by telling you all about the astonishing work Natures Valley Trust do. During my time with NVT, I helped carry out the current projects that the trust had going on while also working independently on my own project… Mushroom Adventures!

NVT allowed me to experience a true and authentic working life of a conservationist. From collecting rubbish along the scorching hot sands of the valley’s beaches to catching and releasing bird –  NVT do it all. The staff are not afraid to get their hands dirty and will work through lightning storms if that’s what it takes to get the job done.

Speaking of the staff, they need a special mention. The NVT team is incredible. All hard workers have a real passion for the work they do and this is revealed through their dedication to all the projects they run. They work through the day and do so as a family led by their project director Dr Mark Brown. Mark is an inspiration and a true modern-day gentleman.

Another aspect that can’t go unmentioned about my experience in South Africa is the people you meet. When you go all that way to do an internship in such a specified field you meet people who are so similar to you that you instantly form a bond with them. I met a boy from America who grew so much over his time in South Africa and should be so proud of himself for the development he went through. I met a true South African Princess who managed to keep us looking at the bright side of life with her magical positive energy! And finally, I believe that I truly fell in love with a crazy Australian girl who brought out the best qualities in me, some of which I didn’t even know existed. Thanks to these people, my time in South Africa I can safely say was the happiest time of my life.

All in all, Natures Valley Trust took care of me for 3 months and taught me so much about the field of work that I have always wanted to get involved with. I left Ireland in September 2018 as a 19-year-old boy who was looking for a way to rekindle his love for the world around him. Thanks to NVT and GVI I returned a 20-year-old man with a love for wildlife stronger than it has ever been before. I have been inspired to go to my local primary schools where I currently carry out talks similar to the ones that I took part in during my time in SA. Teaching kids all about their environment and the beauty of the world around us. So to Mark, Brittany, Kirwan and Kellyn thank you for making me into a man that I can be proud of.

 

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