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My Scholarship entry - Giving back on the road

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 9 April 2012 | Views [162] | Scholarship Entry

"Are you ready to go, girls?"

I look up from lacing my boots. James and John stand before us smiling unreservedly, their white teeth bright against their dark skin. They are our favourite guides, with their earnest compassion and great sense of humour.

I give my laces one final tug to tighten them, and look around at the others. We nod unanimously.

The sun is setting and the air is still.

"Let's go!"
We have a great night ahead.

Apart from the guides, our volunteer group consists of four girls, all from different parts of Australia. Although we're an odd group of varied personalities and ages, we have one thing that brings us together on Moso Island in Vanuatu: our love for sea turtles.

With James and John leading, we trudge through the thick bush growth in the dark. Occasionally, one of us falls into a muddy ditch, and we curse and laugh. Stumbling along the beach, we make quiet jokes while we look for nesting turtles and their tracks.

Suddenly, we all catch the scent of egg in the breeze.

"We wait here...tonight the babies will hatch," John tells us, pointing at a spot in the sand marked by a few twigs.

Crouching around the nest, we watch as a pointy head slowly emerges through the fine sand, followed by a tiny flipper. The hatchling seems dazed, taking a moment to open its eyes before moving towards the ocean.

Without warning, the nest explodes with movement. Hatchlings begin flowing out of the nest, crawling in every direction.

James immediately scoops up a misguided hatchling, setting it closer towards the shore in the right direction. We follow, determined for every little turtle to reach the ocean safely.

As the last turtle swims away, we look up at each other, proud of our efforts. We're tired and sweaty, but we all share a smile we cannot wipe off our faces.

In this moment I realise that the value of giving back to a community does not simply lie in the good deeds we do, but also in the sense of satisfaction and comradie it brings.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2012

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