Presha Soogrim: 'Creating magical marine moments'
On Mandela Day, 18 July, uShaka Marine World staff decided to spend 67 minutes with their favourite neighbours, the lovely folks at South Beach Tafta (the Association for the Aged).
I was a little apprehensive about how we would be received as this was the first time I was involved in an after-lunch celebration at a retirement home. When I arrived my anxiety immediately vanished as the dining hall was a hive of activity, with the residents enjoying the attention of the uShaka staff and happily chatting and exchanging stories.
The uShaka mascots added entertainment and led everyone with their singing and dancing, after which there were plenty of cakes and scrumptious goodies to eat.
Unfortunately, some residents were feeling too poorly to join in the festivities in the dining room and had to remain in their rooms. They certainly could not be forgotten, so a few of my colleagues and I visited them in their rooms, laden with goodie bags, fruit, cake and juices.
When we reached room 408, we were welcomed by the lovely Mrs Marais, who was very happy that she didn’t miss out on all the excitement. The first thing that caught my eye was a large framed picture on her dresser taken nine years ago when she met Gambit, an uShaka Sea World dolphin.
As she held the picture tightly in her hands, she began retelling the story of what it was like when she met Gambit, how he looked, felt, smelled and what she felt like when she kissed him. Now aged over 80 and with a lifetime of memories, that cherished moment remains one that is proudly shared with visitors.
All of which reminded me how special a visit to Sea World is, and I could not help the tears as I thought about the great honour bestowed on me when I was accepted into the uShaka Sea World family. We create magical moments in the lives South Africans lives by connecting them to the marine world in a way that would ordinarily be impossible.
Nowadays when someone asks me what I do, I tell them I create magic connections to the marine world.
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