Little Ones : Rhino Conservation | Safe Haven

Megan Padalecki Start Date: Mar 30, 2017 - End Date: Jul 29, 2017
  • Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, South Africa

My Travel Story

by: Megan Padalecki Start Date: Mar 30, 2017 - End Date: Jul 29, 2017
This summer I will travel to South Africa to volunteer with two programs that are near to my heart with the organization, Volunteer Southern Africa (VSA).  After learning more about these programs I am certain that my time and our dollars will effectively promote animal, environmental and social conservation.

The first program, Heart for Orphans, addresses a great need in the city of Nelspruit.  In the larger province, one third of the population is affected by HIV/AIDS and as a result, many children are orphaned.  VSA provides basic care, education, and safe haven to those left behind.

Donations fund an on-site sustainable fish farm, school and creative supplies, and the basic salaries of the orphanage "mamas" who caretake full-time.  I am excited to participate because my background in creating children's books allows me to connect in a very special way with each child.  I'm sure I can teach them a thing or two about the healing powers of art and creativity :)

The second program, Living with Orphaned Rhinos, assists with a specialist facility that cares for injured and traumatized infant rhinos.  South Africa's rhinos (half of which are in nearby Kruger National Park) represent 95% of the species' world population.  Without 24/7 care and security, the species would easily succumb to advanced poaching tactics.

Not only are these some of the last megafauna on earth – they are also playful and stunning creatures that hold an important role in the local ecosystem.  Rhinos create paths through dense brush, their dung enriches the soil, and they create pools of water when they dig.  And let's be honest – the babies are insanely adorable!

Donations aid in VSA's rhino conservation effort in large part, by paying for expensive milk and formula for the babies.  The rest supports sanctuary operations (enclosures and maintenance) and anti-poaching efforts.  Black Rhinos are a SUCCESS STORY of conservation – though they remain critically endangered, the species was saved from extinction by the efforts of organizations like this one.

It's no secret that I really care about environmental and wildlife conservation.  These themes inspire my work as an author/illustrator and I feel very lucky to journey so far to help toward this cause.  Your donation (in ANY amount!) not only funds these programs directly; it also helps to get me there to do the physical labor on your behalf.

THANK YOU SO SINCERELY for helping these deserving Little Ones (two legs and four!) and for sending me on such a meaningful journey.

NOTE 1: Any funds raised in excess of the goal will benefit the Black Mambas, an ALL-FEMALE (!!!) anti-poaching unit whose focus is on rhinos:

NOTE 2For international donors, please add $15 USD to your donation to help offset shipping costs for 30 and 50 Level Rewards.

  • Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, South Africa


  • It's TIME!

    It's TIME!
    My bags are packed and I'm ready to go – South Africa, watch out!

    To all those who have donated, your contribution will go to very good use these next 3 weeks as I finally jump into the volunteer effort with VSA and team. Now time to do some stretches before 22 hours of flying commence this evening...

    A note on the campaign – it will continue through the end of the month with all new donations going to the Black Mambas. I will be unable to respond or ship rewards until my return in August (please forgive me) but it is my first task once I'm back home :)

    Baie Danke! Much love! M
  • Sunshine And Bugs

    Sunshine and Bugs
    Yep, I think this should just about cover it :)

    (in other words, am I overdoing it a bit?)