Emma Dewe - General Care Projects in South Africa
Although I was really excited about spending three months on a Care & Community project in South Africa, it was the first time I had travelled alone and when the time came for me to fly out there I was also feeling very nervous. However, as soon as I collected my bags at the airport in Nelspruit and stepped through the doors to be greeted by Hlengiwe, the Projects Abroad leader, my fears disappeared.
I experienced my first taste of the laid back African way of life on the journey from the airport when the taxi we were in ran out of petrol. The driver simply jumped out and flagged down a car going in the opposite direction, and we waited by the roadside until 45 minutes later he arrived back with a can of petrol and we could be on our way again! I was pleasantly surprised to find the house we were staying in had hot running water, showers, flushing toilets and even a TV as I'd been imagining something much more basic. The other volunteers I was living with were so friendly and I felt at home straight away.
After a long sleep and my induction the next day, I went to the crèche I was going to be working at for the next three months. The children were aged from around 5 months to 6 years and were all absolutely adorable. They were so pleased to see us each morning, rushing over to us and clinging to our legs as we arrived at the gate. Our main roles were leading the singing assembly each morning with all the children, teaching them new songs, supervising the toileting, playtimes and lunchtime and teaching the older children basic English. During our time there we also created a new classroom for the children and painted several classrooms at other crèches through the school holidays.
As well as working at the crèche we also had lots of opportunities to travel and I was able to visit the beautiful beaches of Mozambique, experience a music concert in South Africa, spend five days in Kruger game reserve and also use some of my travelling time to visit Cape Town and the wine region of Stellenbosch.
My three months in South Africa were the most amazing experience of my life. I am so glad I made the decision to take the plunge and go there. The people in the township were so friendly and so grateful for everything we did for them, and seeing how happy people can be when they have so little is very humbling. I would recommend a Care & Community project in South Africa to anyone and I would love to go back there again myself one day in the future.
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.