Out of Katherine and into Africa


Muriel Scholz experienced African wild life up close and personal

Muriel Scholz experienced African wild life up close and personal

From massive crocs, hippos and fierce wild cats to working with local kids and helping to build a home, it was all part of Muriel Scholz’s trip of a lifetime to South Africa.

Muriel, a Charles Darwin University student, recently spent time in St Lucia – on the country’s east coast – as part of the Volunteer Eco Students Abroad program.

At first, she visited Mama Doris, who opens her home to the village children where Muriel counted well over 100 kids running around at one time.

“Mama gives them a meal and a place to escape. While we were there we read and played games with them,” Muriel said. “We also engaged them with interactive games that focussed on literacy and numeracy.”

Next up, she got up close to the African wildlife. “At a park, we cleaned troughs and cleared weeds with servals, caracals and cheetahs roaming nearby.”

Muriel is no stranger to a crocodile or two – heralding from Katherine, but leaping into an enclosure with the South African variety was a memory she won’t forget.

“A trip to the crocs started out like a normal tour,” she said. “The next thing, we’ve jumped into an enclosure and were hacking at fallen trees and removing debris, all the while these prehistoric creatures bathed only 25 metres away.”

Later in the trip, Muriel helped build a home in Khula Village for a woman who was a single parent of nine children. “Helping build the house was really cool. Knowing a family of 10, which had lived in an old shack, could move to this more spacious new house was satisfying.”

“The (house) foundations had already been laid, leaving us to start on the walls. We stacked bricks past our heads, mixed cement, unloaded an endless number of bricks, dug a huge septic tank hole (and watched the sides cave in), and we also played with the kids and threw the occasional cement ball.”

Towards the end, it was time to enjoy the town … and the hippos she’d heard wandered the streets.

“In St Lucia, it’s normal that hippos roam the street at night,” she said. “The thought of walking home after dinner or a few drinks and coming across one of these massive beasts, which are known for being highly dangerous and aggressive, made me super excited and nervous.”

Back in Darwin now, Muriel is continuing her biomedical science studies at CDU and keeping an eye out for opportunities in local projects.

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