Carlo and Maria, brother and sister, volunteered with us for a short week in August 2023. Even though their time was brief, they had a lot of fun doing activities and learning important things. Maria wanted to tell others about her experience, so she wrote a blog post about what it’s like to be a volunteer. We hope you enjoy reading her post as much as we did!.
Every dawn at A Rocha unfolds with a splash of vibrant colors and unforeseen adventures, making each day a unique canvas of experiences. The beauty of volunteering here lies in the unexpected, the unplanned, and the extraordinary moments that fill your day.
Picture this: the sun has just begun to paint the sky with hues of gold as you rise at 5:30 AM. The purpose? To prepare for the weekly ritual of bird ringing, which was a term I was unfamiliar with until that day. But curiosity beckons, and you find yourself amidst fellow volunteers and guests, setting up delicate nets along the nature trail. The anticipation grows, and then, like magic, the nets start to fill with birds fluttering around the A Rocha nature trails. As you approach these foreign avian creatures, you’re captivated by the intricacies of their plumage and hues. A Speckled Mousebird, a familiar resident of A Rocha’s surroundings, is the first to grace your presence. Following suit, 17 more birds – Lesser Masked Weavers, a Bearded Scrub Robin, Common Bulbuls, and resplendent Kingfishers – bless the morning with their presence. Measuring their delicate forms, noting their mass, wingspan, and details of their molt, you’re surrounded by fellow enthusiasts. During this all staff and guests sat around the table as Colin, and another bird ringing guest, alister educated everyone about these amazing birds.
After breakfast, next the marine team and the ocean awaits. Here, imagine snorkelling through rockpools of varying sizes and structures inhabiting biodiversity ranging from intricate corals to small marine life zipping in and about the pools. As you float above them, the fish peer inquisitively at you, and you at them as both are curious to learn more about this foreign floating organisms. Here you learn that fish can be both shy and curious at the same time. The purpose of our snorkel was in search of Anomastraea Irregularis, more commonly known as the crisp pillow coral. This is an endangered coral species, so the research aims to understand the conditions which they can thrive and survive.
As the clock inches towards lunch, pause and let the realization sink in: you’ve experienced bird ringing and explored the underwater realm – all before noon.
After a hearty meal, a different kind of adventure beckons – delving into A Rocha’s treasure trove of data. Organizing files with precision, you uncover patterns and insights that nurture the conservation dreams that this sanctuary nurtures. And then, an unexpected request from the marine team: a lesson in RStudio scripting. For hours, you share the language of data, unveiling the wonders of code, whilst also getting to work closer with the marine team teaching them how to better the data as well.
As the sun prepares to dip beyond the horizon, it’s time for another kind of contribution – hospitality. Gathering around meals, setting tables, and basking in the camaraderie that transcends boundaries, you share stories with staff, guests, and fellow volunteers. This woven tapestry of culture and camaraderie leaves you feeling connected, like a global family exchanging stories around a cherished campfire.
Yet, this collection of experiences is only a fragment, a glimpse into the dynamic world of A Rocha. From conservation to education, the community’s energy resonates with purpose, igniting fires of change that ripple beyond the boundaries of this sanctuary. Every day here is a brushstroke on the canvas of environmental stewardship, painted with passion, curiosity, and the profound belief that nature’s palette is a canvas worth preserving.