Cita Oudijk,  acupuncturist at Portland’s Open Gate Clinic, E. Burnside and 10th for more than 10 years, has had a dream of volunteering for wildlife conservation work in South Africa for many years. That dream is finally coming true.

To help Oudijk’s life dream manifest, friends are gathering together to party and dance, raise the roof and raise some much-needed dough Saturday March 8 with a rip-roaring celebration at The Laurelthirst Pub, 2958 NE Glisan St. At 6 pm, the hallowed room will ring with the Twang and Holler music of The Yellers. The cover is $5 and there’ll be a raffle with prizes at 7 pm. In times like these, it’s good to remember to get together with friends and dance it all into focus.

To raise funds for her journey, Oudijk’s worked extra hours, liquidated non essentials, taught a theater games class; designed and sold t-shirts online and offers pet-sitting. Faced with program fees, travel costs and insurance, vaccines, supplies and savings to cover her expenses here at home, the fundraising can seem monumental.

This May, Oudijk will set off for two months working with Global Vision International (GVI) to do wildlife research on a game reserve in South Africa. The small private reserves are the future of wildlife there as funding for state-run parks is dwindling.

She explains further.“Smaller reserves, such as the 25 sq mi Karongwe where I will be, present many challenges for park managers and conservationists as predator/prey dynamics, mating practices and territorial issues among various prey animals are very different from those on a larger reserve. The research is used to understand these problems and dynamics in order to create sustainable wildlife conservation practices in South Africa. ‘Voluntourism’ and ecotourism provide important economic incentives for these private reserves and for the animals within them to remain protected.”

So how does an acupuncturist get involved with a project like this?

“Since age twelve, I’ve dreamed of working with wild animals in Africa. That dream was born on a safari in Kenya with my travel agent mom, who became a travel agent, in part, to fulfill her childhood dream of seeing African animals in the wild.

“My mom and I fell completely and unexpectedly in love with Kenya. The warmth of the people who smiled and laughed with their whole bodies and beings; the thrill of seeing lions, elephants, zebras, wildebeest living out their lives in their natural habitat was incredible.

“Over the years, different things kept me from going. Then I was dealing with an illness and seeing friends deal with serious health problems too. This led to the reflection that one never knows what life may bring and I realized that the time to fulfill my dreams was now.”


For more info on GVI, see . 

The Yellers are a versatile band with high-spirited, mostly original American roots, rock and country music that’s travelled from Portland to Dublin, Ireland six times already. Their new CD, House Band For the Revolution will be officially released at any moment. Listen at .