Elephant Orphanage Project – Zambia – 30 days left to raise $1500!!

I have 30 days to raise at least $1,500. Please consider a donation. My cost, not only covers my daily meals and tent, but is largely a direct donation to the project to keep the year round staff employed to give these deserving souls a second chance at life. Here is a quick look at what my days will look like in Kafue as a project field assistant and an overview of where I will be based.
To donate: please visit the link below – any amount helps!! xoxo


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Rule # 31 Always check the shitter – aka – Don’t be a dumbass

I just downloaded a list of 53 “General Safety and Awareness Guidelines” from Game Rangers International for my work in Zambia. I was encouraged to read the entire list very thoroughly, as most points, “may be relevant during your stay.” This list includes, but is not limited to, the following: 16. If confronted by any irate or difficult person/s or officials, remain calm and courteous…. 23. Do not attempt to pick up any snake, even if it appears dead. 24. Wear closed footwear at night and be aware that some snakes are more active during dark hours…. 31. Check toilet bowls for any unwanted creatures before use…. 34. Always check clothing and footwear for any unwanted creatures before putting on your shoes…. 38. Avoid swimming or bathing in any river or lake within Zambia due to crocodiles and bilharzia…. 50. When exiting your tent at night, first pause and tune into your surroundings to ensure that there is no lurking danger…. 53. Be aware that lightening is a killer in Africa. During storms avoid: – exposed and elevated places. – conductors. – bodies of water….. So, reading this list, got me thinking about all the warnings my Dad gave us kids during my young years growing up in rural Illinois. This list includes, but is not limited to, the following: – don’t play with the squirrels, they will bite you. You will get rabies. – always keep a shit-hole $100 in your wallet “because you never know.” – use a flashlight to track the dog when you let her out to go poop, a coyote may try to eat her. – a sports game should always be called when there is lightening, because you could die. – when camping, always look into a shitter, because, if there is a snake, it will bite you and we are not going home. Woah, each of these childhood tidbits are still kinda relevant! I feel totally prepared….yeah. Prepared….. ….Totally. images

Obama makes Historic Ruling on US Ivory Trade.

“In a joint press conference held with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Obama said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a new regulation that “bans the sale of virtually all ivory across state lines.” The move follows a near-complete ban on the commercial ivory trade enacted by the administration last year.”

– Article published by Rhett Butler,  July 26, 2015


History is made, and on the same day, I reach a milestone in my quest, as I officially transfer raised funds to secure my volunteer spot at The Elephant Sanctuary, Zambia…..and now, airfare. Click here to donate – let’s make a difference: https://www.volunteerforever.com/volunteer_profile/valerie-downs


T.E.O. Zambia – supported by David Shepard Foundation.

The David Shepard Foundation, along with Game Rangers International, were both instrumental in my decision to take over a month off of work and volunteer at The Elephant Orphanage Zambia in November, 2015. These trusted organizations gave me peace of mind that I would be participating in a true rescue/rehabilitation/release program and not a tourist experience.

To donate: https://www.volunteerforever.com/volunteer_profile/valerie-downs

Untitled(Following exert taken from www.davidshepherd.org website.)

Founded by DSWF in 2007 the Elephant Orphanage Project ( EOP ) now has two main sites, the Nursery Facility in Lilayi and the Release Facility in Kafue National Park.

The Nursery provides the round-the-clock care and attention that the young orphans desperately need. With regular 24-hour feeds required and often medical treatments too the keepers are on site 24/7.

When the elephants are weaned they are relocated to the release site in the Kafue National Park where they begin the re-wilding process, taking long and regular walks into the bush and browsing in the safety of the outer boma . It is here they come into contact with the wild herds that one day they will rejoin.

The project started with an elephant called Phoenix who was rescued by DSWF in February 2001 when, just weeks old, she was found trying to suckle from her dead mother. Against all the odds, Phoenix pulled through and became the catalyst of this exciting new project. Shortly after her successful release in the Kafue , Phoenix contracted bilary , previously unrecorded in elephants, and tragically died. The Release Facility was named Camp Phoenix in her honour and her memory lives on through the successful rescue, rehabilitation and release of new orphans.

The elephant orphanage is part of a wider programme of community outreach, education and park protection to ensure a long-term future for Zambia’s wildlife.

Damn Airline Miles Denied – Time to up the fundraising ante!


I just found out my miles will not cover my airfare. I am not sure why I am dissapointed because I am most definately not surprised. I was just hoping I would be able to cover this part of the project myself. Taking off a month of work does not worry me, it just highlights the fact that the funding part of my volunteer work is reliant upon financial help from others. On the bright side, I will not be deterred. I will reach my goal because I know people will come through for this important work.

So, I am happy to add a bit of an incentive for those considering a donation. For donations over $50, you will receive a Valerie Downs Jewelry necklace from my collection as a sign of my appreciation and thanks!

Go to https://www.volunteerforever.co/volunteer_profile/valerie-downs

Suni’s Story: GRI Zambia Orphanage Project

Ok ALL, this video reflects exactly why the GRI Zambia Orphanage project is important. Your donation helps me with my expenses (food, shelter, travel, medical, supplies, visa), AND it goes directly towards the continual care for babies like Suni. She deserves a chance to recover from trauma. Don’t we all?
Click here to donate: https://www.volunteerforever.com/volunteer_pr…/valerie-downs

Suni’s Story


Elephant Orphanage Project – Zambia – It is in the books!

My work dates have been confirmed: 31st October – 26th November, which is the beginning part of rainy season and should prove to be quite challenging both physically and mentally – BUT I DON’T CARE!

The weather is not the reason I am going. I am thrilled to be getting back into project work and look forward the opportunity as it has presented itself.

Unfortunately, my miles won’t work towards my flight, typical, but I will not be deterred! Your donation is now even more needed and won’t be wasted.

Visit: https://www.volunteerforever.com/volunteer_profile/valerie-downs

I must go first.

In an effort to clear my energy; I followed my instincts and decided weeks ago to skip all of the usual family holiday traditions/pressures this year. 

Selfish – maybe. 
Necessary – yes.

By stepping back and releasing all of the foggy, heavy, pressure-filled baggage, I am beginning to see things/people/situations much clearer. By allowing myself a place of peace, contentment and appreciation, I am not lingering on anger, past hurts or disappointment, I am actually remembering the joy of the season.

I can feel my energy changing, my perspective shifting. I feel much more gentle. My hurt has subsided, my fear is quieting and I truly feel that maybe, just maybe, relationships can be reformed through a softer heart. I am feeling my meditative place, very much like my creative expression, carrying over into my daily consciousness….this is a blessing and a gift. I am hoping to continue to heal, forgive and rebuild in peace. Not to forget, but to forgive and maybe even let go.

So, I begin 2013, understanding the worth of my creativity. I reflect to you a conversation with my new friend that has opened my eyes to myself and my place in the world around me. 

“The miracle that comes from knowing, believing and trusting it is all coming…there is nowhere to get. There is nothing to achieve, it is in the expression, especially as an artist, the world follows…you much go first.” -Randolph Duke


The Flip Side : One side is pretty. The other side is shitty.

Going through a divorce? Bad breakup? Shitty boss? Co-workers make you want to medicate? Family make you want to shoot yourself? Then you will love…..The Flip Side charm collection: one side is pretty the other side is shitty. These double-sided charms include sayings like:


  • you……….are an idiot
  • kiss………my ass
  • please…..shut up
  • i love…….booze
  • ……plus an option to create your own.

Wear your passive aggressive thoughts…..we won’t tell 😉