Andre and Marnus Reach a Dream in Kruger

The 'Reach for a Dream' Foundation is an organisation that has brought hope and healing to countless young South Africans and it believes strongly in the power of dreams. Children are encouraged to use their dreams to cope with life-threatening illnesses.

The dreams submitted to the foundation are varied and testament to the notion that most children are powerful dreamers.

Two such dreamers who are also combatting life-threatening illnesses are Marnus Louw and Andrè Hattingh. Both wished to become involved in nature, and these dreams were recently realised with the assistance of SANParks when Marnus and Andre participated in wildlife captures in the Kruger National Park (KNP) from May 14 to 17, 2008.

"Such opportunities would of course not be possible without the help of a number of individuals and institutions," said the Honorary Ranger's (HR) Estrellita Kleynhans.

While the SANParks game capture team took care of the captures, Chris Jacobs of the HR Pretoria region orchestrated the logistics of the whole experience.

Both boys were enthralled by their experience. Below are extracts from their letters of thanks [the letter of Marnus Louw has been translated]. Andr è Hatti ngh "I am Andrè Hattingh. I have been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. We stayed at Satara Camp and in this time watched as the capture crew caught five giraffe and two white rhino.

It was an awesome experience for me. I flew in the helicopter twice and saw how the animal was darted and I touched the animals they captured. I watched as the vet took blood samples from the animals, checked their overall condition and treated them. It was amazing to see these animals from so close. Then I saw how they loaded the animal into the truck to transfer them.

I was impressed at how organised everything was, each and every person knew what they were doing and the whole process was done so efficiently and quietly so as not to upset the animal. They even put stockings in the giraffe's ears so that they couldn't hear and wouldn't get upset. I would like to thank Chris Jacobs, SANParks and SAAB for making this visit possible. So many people were involved in making the visit a success and I would like to thank Chris for organising the visit and for his part in assisting 'Reach for a Dream' in making visits like these possible.

Thank you as well to SANParks for letting us stay in the guesthouse and for the lovely meals. All the people at the camp were so friendly and helpful, we watched a movie in the auditorium about the park every evening, which was very interesting. We saw most of the animals in the park and I could note a lot of the bird species in my bird book.

Thank you also to the people doing the captures for allowing us to go with them and making this visit unforgettable. This was my first visit to the KNP and I will definitely be back as most of the areas in the park are accessible to wheelchairs and I thank them for taking the trouble to make this possible. On my way back I read on the back of a book written by a game ranger that 'being a game ranger might not make you well off but it would allow you to see and experience things that other people only dream of' - I had the opportunity to experience some of that and so, to each and everyone involved - thank you so much for making this dream possible.

I will never forget you." Marnus Louw "I would like to apologise for only writing now, but we are so busy. I am still not able to stop talking about the weekend in the park. It is probably the most enjoyable weekend I have ever had. I learnt so many things about wild animals. My friends get jealous when I tell them about everything we saw and did, about the wild animals and the rhino and giraffe captures. I would like to ask uncle Chris to thank everyone who contributed to making my weekend so wonderful. You are wonderful!"

By Estrellita Kleynhans

Kruger National Park - South African Safari