Harnas Tips and Tricks for the new volunteer!
1. If you are traveling on after Harnas, you may consider bringing an extra pair of sandals. Depending on the length of your stay here with us, footwear can take quite a beating and many volunteers find their sandals pretty useless by the end of their stay.
2. Remember you will be sharing living quarters with up to three other volunteers. Try not to over-pack!
3. We think piercings look great—and so do baboons and vervets! Baboons and vervet monkeys pick each other for ticks and groom each other and their human friends as part of normal social interaction. To them, piercings are something very interesting to pick and play with—and they do not really mind how hard they have to tug at it to get it off. If you do have piercings, you will be asked to remove them before interacting with our baboons and monkeys. Even piercings in areas covered by clothing are fair game to a curious teenage baboon. Piercings that are easy to take out and put back in are very easy to manage: just take them out before play time and put them back in after. Harder-to-remove piercings can prove a challenge; you may wish to remove such piercings before arriving at Harnas.
4. Please remember that some jobs and activities that you will participate in will be fun, exciting and maybe even relaxing. However, others may be hard and potentially a bit tedious or repetitive. Please come prepared with an open mind and positive attitude; always remember that no matter what job you are doing, it is crucial to the health and wellbeing of our animals and you are making an important contribution to their welfare.
5. If you are coming during the rainy season, please be prepared for wet days. We work outside, rain or shine! During the winter months, a windbreaker jacket and fleece will be helpful to protect against the cold wind. Pack a lighter jumper for cooler summer mornings.
6. A good basic medical kit to bring along, contains: antiseptic cream (in the event of being scratched or bitten, it is wise to wash the dirt out of these wounds and apply antiseptic cream as soon as possible to prevent infection) - painkillers for fever and pains - anti-itch cream for stings and bites (it is better if you can get the ones containing some level of hydrocortisone as this gives faster relief) - dehydration tablets - medicine against diarrhoea or upset stomach - antihistamines (even if you think you are not allergic to anything, some of the grasses here or cat or antelope hairs might make your eyes itch, so better be prepared) - multiple size plasters and plasters specifically to heal blisters such as Compeed - cooling cream for sunburns or other burns - saline eye drops (the air here can be extremely dry and there is a lot of dust and it is best to get eye drops in individual doses so to keep them sterile at all times) - nose spray. Whilst the clinic at Harnas stocks certain medicine and antibiotics, consider asking your GP to prescribe some broad-spectrum antibiotics (+/- 20 tablets) to bring along. If not used, why not donate them to the clinic as well other items from your medical kit?
7. Temperatures are often very hot and it is important to stay hydrated. Do not forget to pack a water bottle and drink lots of fluids whilst doing your activities.
8. The African sun beats very hard and often you will be working for hours in the sun with no shade in sight! Bring a hat or scarf to protect you from the beating sun. Having sunstroke is not pleasant.
9. Bring old clothes that can take a beating as they will get stained or torn. Baboons especially like to tear off buttons, bra accessories or anything that can be detached from your clothes! Be assured they will get what they want to get. A sports bra is a very good idea.
10.The list of things to bring seems long and so to avoid having too much weight in your suitcase (toiletries quickly add on weight) and especially for people staying longer, on your way to Harnas, you will stop at Gobabis and there is a Spar supermarket so you will be able to buy more toiletries to cover your stay as well as washing powder to wash your undergarments. There is a laundry service on Harnas and you will be able to have your clothing washed once per week. Each cabin has a specific "laundry day". However, you will have to wash your own undergarments (underwear, socks, bras etc.). Things can get busy during your stay here so consider bringing a few extra pairs to make sure you do not run out.
11. Bring an extra pair of batteries for your torch. You will be using your torch a lot.
12. Many people bring their "smart" phones on activities to use them as a camera and many screens get cracked as they fall out of pockets or backpacks. Bring a good waterproof or shockproof case for your phone or consider bringing an older phone.
13. Wearers of glasses should bring an older pair and a second pair or consider the use of contact lenses. Not only can you NOT wear your glasses on baboon interaction or baboon walks, but also glasses could easily get scratched or broken while doing activities. You do not want to be half blind for the rest of your stay.
14. For volunteers coming to Harnas during the rainy season (Nov-Apr), it is recommended to bring a mosquito net. Some cabins might have mosquito nets already as volunteers often leave them behind, but not all beds will be having one or there may already be a few holes in them. Being plagued by mosquitos during the night and having multiple bites the next day is not fun. We find the mosquito net also serves as a little comfort tent and will keep other creepy crawlies out of your bed during the night so you can enjoy a peaceful sleep!
15. Fellow volunteers: if you can think of anything else to add onto this list, please email email@example.com. Thanks!
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