Once in a Lifetime Opportunity I could not pass up on
As part of her Master’s degree in Business Communication, Daphne from Belgium had to do a compulsory internship. She decided she wanted to do something out of the box, something different. Initially, she wanted to do an internship in Cape Town, South Africa, and that’s how she found Roots Interns. When she mentioned her passion for animals to us, we suggested the possibility of the Animal Welfare Fundraising Internship in Livingstone, Zambia. After weighing the pros and cons, she decided to do her internship at Zambezi Animal Welfare Services (ZAWS). Combining two of her biggest interests – animals and marketing – was a once in a lifetime opportunity that she could not pass up on. “It might sound cliché, but if I had the chance again, I would not hesitate for a second.” Now, she shares her experiences with us.
If you want a simple answer to the question “How was your internship?” – I am afraid I can’t give you one. There are not enough words in the English language to describe what this experience was like. You’ll have to do it yourself to understand. However, I will try to summarize what I have done, what I have learned and what I loved most.
What I have done during my Marketing and Communications Internship
My tasks at ZAWS were diverse and there was never a dull moment. However, I did have to get used to ‘African time’. The way Zambians schedule their days is very different than how Western people do it. In fact, they don’t even have a schedule. They just go with the flow and see what the day brings. After a while, I got used to it and I gained a lot (!) of patience. So, my days were not at all boring. Some days I had a lot of work, some days I had less, but in general, I always had something to do.
In fact, my tasks consisted of managing social media (follow us on Instagram @zawslivingstone and Facebook @Zambezi Animal Welfare Services – ZAWS. I wouldn’t be a good social media manager if I didn’t promote my own accounts), creating content, making a website, fundraising and offline marketing. I gained a lot of experience in design and animal photography. Getting a dog to stay still and look directly at the camera, was one of the hardest things I had to do here!
I do feel like my work has made a difference for the organization. Our Facebook page gained a lot of reaches, The Dodo reached out to collaborate on a story, I set up an Instagram page and a website, and I raised some funds. For an NGO, it is extremely important to raise funds. Otherwise, they can’t continue doing what they do. Everything I did came down to fundraising.
One of my main tasks was setting up interesting social media accounts. I encouraged people to donate on the GoFundMe page (which I set up too) by sharing touching stories about the animals we save. Next to that, I also organized a Craft & Food Market, where we raised approximately 5000 Kwacha. I helped out at the event and did all the marketing around it (posters, flyers, social media awareness…).
I got to use the skills I already had and I learned to do a lot more. Working at ZAWS definitely improved some of my professional skills and I think it also changed my mindset and view of the world in general. This is very useful when applying for a job in Belgium. I have worked in extreme conditions. As a social media manager you depend on the internet. It turns out, the internet (and electricity in general) in Africa can be challenging.
As I mentioned, I gained a lot of patience and I can say flexibility is one of the skills I mastered in Zambia. I think anyone who does an internship like this will benefit from it on a higher level, professionally, academically and personally. It might sound cliché but your worldview really changes. I think adapting to the Belgian way of life will be another challenge I will have to face, once I am (going) back.
What I have learned
On my first day, we immediately went out and did some fieldwork. I got to see the side of Africa that you hear a lot of stories about, which is the poor side. You think you know how bad it is because you’ve heard the stories. However, you cannot imagine how people live here. I was so shocked. The animals were in bad condition, but the people were too. You can’t expect people to take care of their animals if they can’t even take care of themselves.
Seeing people in this condition was a valuable life lesson and it made me appreciate my home country even more. I had quite the culture shock that day. The second time we did fieldwork, the culture shock wasn’t as bad and I also got to see the more ‘beautiful’ side of poverty. People are happy, genuinely happy. That is a beautiful thing to witness. They enjoy life in a way you don’t often see in the Western world. Coming to Zambia and seeing the way people live here, made me appreciate my life and the opportunities I get even more. The process of realizing this is a tough thing to go through. Still, I am so grateful I got the opportunity to see it with my own eyes.
Interested in Animals, Marketing and Communications? Check out the Animal Welfare Fundraising Internship in Zambia
What I loved about my Nonprofit Internship in Zambia
Of course, I didn’t only work in Zambia. I also traveled, and without a doubt, traveling is one of my favourite things to do. First of all, Livingstone is one of the biggest cities in Zambia. It has a lot to offer, including Victoria Falls, one of the modern world wonders. Victoria Falls is amazing and a lot of people come to Zambia just to see the falls. It’s just eight kilometres from the office so you could go there every week, basically. Besides, the borders of Zimbabwe and Botswana are very close.
I went to Chobe National Park in Botswana and I can say it was one of the best weekends of my life. We went on game drives and a river cruise and saw about 100 elephants, a leopard (we were very lucky!), hyenas, hippos, buffaloes, impalas, warthogs, mongoose, baboons… the list goes on. If you love animals, as I do, you will love going to Chobe. The thing about Livingstone, Zambia is that it’s a very accessible city and you can travel around easily, which makes it a fun place to live in.
In general, I can conclude this was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. I would definitely recommend an internship at ZAWS and even though it might sound cheesy, I would not have traded this experience for all the money in the world. Doing something with your skills in an organization that really needs it, and seeing that what you do really makes a difference, gives you a feeling of satisfaction you will never have experienced before. That, and a setting that is very rough, but also very beautiful, makes this internship worthwhile. If you love animals and you are keen on doing a marketing and communications internship in Africa – look no further. This Animal Welfare Fundraising Internship in Zambia is it.
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