Going Wild with Time2Give

by Sam Moylan-Heydt · CSR Programme Manager · United Kingdom

Photo of Sam
Sam Moylan-Heydt

During the day, I lead volunteering for Cisco in the United Kingdom and Ireland, finding opportunities for teams to go out and support local communities and charities. In the evening and on weekends I’m a big old drama queen, acting, singing and dancing in a couple of shows a year.

For years I’ve talked and dreamed of getting up close with big cats. Recently, I saw an opportunity advertised with The Great Projects. I was incredibly excited by the idea. My gut reaction screamed "DO THIS. YOU’LL LOVE IT". This was a fantastic opportunity to get up close with animals and give back at the same time. I loved the idea of being able to actually help and support orphaned and sick animals even as I satisfied my desire to cuddle them. I signed up and did a 2-week stint at the N/a’ankuse Wildlife Sanctuary in Namibia and mostly loved it.

Where else do you get to hug a meerkat, have a baboon pee on you and a cheetah lick you like a lolly? Don’t be fooled, this wasn’t all about playing with cuddly animals—it was hard work. I played roles ranging from keeping the animals company, enriching their day-to-day routine with my comforting presence, to enclosure cleaning and project work.

Whisky the Meerkat.
Vet Sam
Selfie with one of the cheetah cubs.
Me as a Hot Box dancer in Guys and Dolls

Many of the animals at the sanctuary will never be able to be released. So, having taken on the responsibility of saving them the sanctuary will need to provide for them for the rest of their lives—a big responsibility. The sanctuary works not just to provide a safe haven for orphaned animals but also works to educate the general public so this is minimized.

Animals end up in the sanctuary for a variety of reasons. Some are hit by vehicles, others are caught in farmer’s traps (farmers in Namibia are allowed to trap and kill threats to their livestock). Some others are reared as pets. Don’t get me wrong. You can see why someone would want a cute little monkey or cheetah as a pet, but then they grow up and are not quite so cute. And like I’ve already mentioned, baboons don’t mind where they pee.

It was a lot of effort, but I also experienced some truly magical moments that I can't imagine happening anywhere else. And it was clear to see as we worked on projects how we were contributing to the welfare of the animals, not just at the farm but also with the local communities. To help the community as much as possible I made sure I didn't go empty handed. I arrived with a suitcase full of supplies, including syringes and needles. Thankfully, I wasn't stopped at customs!

Giving back is at the heart of our culture at Cisco, and Time2Give is an incredible programme. It has enabled me to devote time to support a cause that is close to my heart.

Time2Give is in addition to your vacation or holiday time (as we say in the United Kingdom) off. It lets employees take and track up to five days per year to go volunteer at a non-profit organization or school. Organizations registered with the Cisco Foundation also receive a donation for each hour an employee volunteers.

I would have done this trip without the volunteering time off, but really appreciate that we now have this incredible benefit and I fully intend to use my Time2Give days every year. Thanks, Cisco.

Much as I loved the volunteering, after 10 days of volunteering and living in very basic conditions, I really could have done with a few days of rest and relaxation somewhere fancy. So next time that’s the plan! Oh yes, I’m definitely volunteering again.

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