Mbali’s Waddle

The waddle week has increased my undying passion for African Penguins and environmental issues towards bettered Nature conservation of any form.

Sharing this experience with other likeminded people who took it upon themselves to do something so selfless, from different organisations some of which are NPOs like SAAMBR volunteers was remarkable.  We became a family not only on the various media fronts but also in the mornings before we could take off, during the day when were in some pain and also in the evenings when we did “sharing of what didn’t work, what worked and how are you feeling”.  One always had a friend, sister, brother, or even a mom or a dad in need since we were all from different age groups.

 

The public participation from different towns was so amazing especially the kids that brought their pets, had taken their time to sketch on their very own placards and messaged them for African penguins gave me insight that is a lot of good that is being done and that there is hope for future.

The people made effort to hoot for the African penguins, even leaner drivers had their instructors hooting for that which much have been disrupting for the people that were being taught to drive but amazing for us that they wanted their hoot to count as well.  The excitement on the faces of drivers, smiles, hand waves, Bluetooth high fives, thumbs up, peace signs, and head bows, even though the people were driving past us it did feel like they were walking with us in spirit and did assure us that they understood that we can all do something even if it’s one thing, if we did it right we would save penguin and every other thing that lives in our planet.

 

The penguin promises business cards were handed out and almost every person we gave the cards to was on social media and they used the hash tag when they posted something about saving penguins which means their online friend could also gain awareness and keep the movement going.

Thanks to Spar for the beverages that gave us endurance and the beautiful lunch bags in which we could keep our stuff in for much easier access on the road.

 

Thanks to old mutual finance for sponsoring food and operations for the entire week and also for physical participation, at least we had a representative per each day in addition to Leizel who had been their representative Waddle.

 

Thanks to Columbia for clothing us.  The sizes and the fabric quality was just perfect and comfortable that it gave us such confidence to pause for picture of our own and whenever we got assed by a member of the different communities for a picture moment.

 

The various sponsored accommodations, the rooms, hospitality and the service “atmosphere” was truly exceptional and their pets too.

We picked up litter and inspired people to do the same thing or better motivated them not to pollute in the first place.  The message was loud and clear and well received.

 

Thanks to The sanctuaries that we visited were proud of having us and the great awareness that we wanted to create, started off at APSS and we saw some all too familiar faces, the African Penguins of course and this is who it was for, Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary and they thought we were awesome but visa verse, they are doing conservation too.

 

My biggest highlight was when we saw the penguins in the actual nature, it was my first time.

Thanks to Cape Nature for having us and for making my first African Penguin encounter in the will, one that I will always remember, the beautiful Penguin keyrings and the specially messaged cards with our names were such a treat.

 

Thanks to Boulders Beach Restaurant and Lodge for welcoming and hosting us at the end of the Waddle, they had champagnes for us and our accommodation was beautiful, the view was amazing and we got into the gate for free to go onto the boardwalk where the penguins were.  To top it up we got to swim with the penguins for the first time in the wild and we had penguins sleeping right outside our door.

 

The Penguin waddle millage was 127 km in total and we got over 5550 hoots over the six days of the waddle.

 

This experience wouldn’t have been pleasant enough without having a crazy, funny, kind, caring, positive, patient, supportive and well-coordinated driver, Freddy from De Kat Safari, Best driver ever, made sure we hydrated and went an extra mile picked flowers for us, gave us his hand each time we jumped in or off the van, even lifted me to the door step of our room when I had challenges with my foot.

 

Gabby this event would have been non-existent if it weren’t for your amazing soul, this experience doesn’t only serve its main purpose only which is definitely changing people’s behaviour and their way of thinking for a better planet for all nature, but it changes people lives for good.

I don’t know how so much passion can reside in a single soul, you have touched me in a way that nobody else could ever do, your presence not just as a senior but as a motherly person was everything and beyond what one could have asked for, you are amazing and I still feel like I owe you my life, from the day you broke the news to me to date.

 

Hayley for saying yes and for putting the plan together and for making sure that we had everything that we needed and more.  For allowing me an opportunity to have a chosen family.  We are always told YOU CAN NEVER CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY but you did that with great excellence and I loved it.

We are still communicating with the Waddlers not only on social media but through calls as well.  Your idea of having our songs playing in the van throughout the week gave me that thing I don’t even know how to describe and also hearing other waddlers choice of music was fun-tastic.

 

My last but not least vote of thanks goes to Martin, Ramini and Collette for being my bestest friends, support system and also for not getting sick of my bucket of tears.  My emotions were so uncontainable, I had never ever cried this much in my whole entire life, not even on my birthday.  I cannot describe the feeling that I had in my heart but it was all positive, gratitude, humbleness…

 

It is like I just lived for the first time.  When I gave up meat three years ago for the African Penguins as a promise of my own I had no idea that being involved in conservation of not just penguins but of marine life in general would me such assurance one day that I am in the right field and that my effort could really count.

 

Humble regards

Mbali Mtshali

Guest Relations Guide – level 1
uShaka Sea World

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