The Footprints of Hope wellness retreat is a two-week, fully immersive programme consisting of mentoring, animal-assisted therapy (AAT), TRiM, therapeutic art, yoga nidra, and yin yoga. Supported by a series of pre- and post-deployment contact sessions, the retreat takes place at Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary in South Africa. It is here that the participating veterans are taught targeted approaches to deal with negative emotions and the trauma they have experienced in their lives.

Veterans for Wildlife firmly believes that AAT, via exposure to previously wild animals, within a rehabilitation setting, offers a unique and insightful experience. By putting the needs of these animals before themselves, the participants can gain perspective on their own lives.  As well as find a sense of purpose in caring for something other than themselves - in a similar sense to the brotherhood and buddy-buddy system that they would have encountered in military life.

The purpose of the Footprints of Hope programme is to provide a support structure in a contained environment, in which the therapeutic advantages of working with animals can be explored and understood. Ultimately, the whole journey of coming to South Africa and working with Veterans for Wildlife encompasses a holistic experience of service, awareness, wellness and the creation of meaning for oneself.

The identification of suitable participants for the Veterans for Wildlife Wellness Programme incorporates a rigorous application and selection process to ensure that we meet the ethical and scientific standards necessary to evaluate the outcomes of the programme quantifiably.

Footprints of Hope has been endorsed by the Trauma and Violence Division of the Psychological Society of South Africa.


Apply to take part in Footprints of Hope 2