Georgina Steele - Human Rights in South Africa
I had always wanted to go to South Africa, it had been my dream. I chose to go with Projects Abroad because of the incredible opportunity that they offer. I also decided to go with them because it was easier, as it is all organised for you beforehand, and you are kept informed of exactly what it is going to be like. The weekend trip also sounded amazing and they certainly surpassed my expectations.
It was very well prepared beforehand and I had contact with the organiser in South Africa. This made me feel much more confident and secure when arriving in the country. As well as that it made my parents feel a lot happier! I was also really worried about travelling on my own but I was emailed a list of other people also doing the same project as me and going on the same flight. This meant that we could get in contact with each other before the actual placement and get to know a little bit about each other. This made settling into our host family and placement a lot easier and it was quicker, meaning we were able to focus on working as a team.
The Human Rights project that I chose was really interesting. I chose to do this project in South Africa because of its fascinating history. Working in the office with people who had been doing this for a while was perfect. We were able to hear about some of the cases that they had been involved in and therefore really get to grips with what the job entailed.
We were split into groups depending on where our interests lay within the field; crime, health or education. I chose education because it has always been the most important thing, in my opinion, to be able to resolve all of these issues. With education you are able to reduce crime and improve health standards. It was really fascinating to be able to research about it in South Africa and the causes of why it is like it is and the effects of it being this way.
We were lucky enough to be able to interview many people involved in the education system and involved in improving it. We got to visit a number of schools. This was probably one of my favourite parts of the trip, as we met loads of wonderful children. However, it was very sad to hear that many of them had come from harrowing backgrounds. This made me even more motivated to help them.
The trip culminated in a presentation. This was the bit I had been dreading most, as I have a fear of public speaking. When it came round to it though, it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. All my friends were around me encouraging me and supporting me, giving me so much confidence. I had made such lovely friends on the trip.
My Host Family
Arriving in South Africa could not have been made more welcoming for us. We were absolutely exhausted from the plane journey, and were relieved to see someone at the airport ready and waiting to pick us up and take us to our wonderful host families.
Our host mother could not have been more hospitable. We arrived at our house and the table was already laid up with way too much food for us to even possibly finish! Throughout the trip she spoilt us with her delicious home cooking, we probably all went home at least five kilos heavier than when we came out!
The evenings spent with our host family were so enjoyable, with sixteen of us staying in the same house, it couldn’t not be. We were able to just chill out and relax. Our host family was so interesting and very funny. It was great fun getting to know them both.
On the weekend we went on the garden route. It was such a lovely experience. We went on this road trip with all of the volunteers from Projects Abroad out in South Africa at the same time as us. The first stop was safari. It was amazing. We were able to see so many animals and get so close! The highlight for me was definitely the cheetah and its two cubs. They were so adorable!
After the safari we went to a local youth hostel. It was unlike your average youth hostel; it was spacious, warm and the atmosphere was so friendly and enjoyable. Our dinner was a traditional ostrich brai. I have to admit I was slightly unsure of ostrich, but after trying it I am definitely a convert! This did, however, seem a little bit ironic as the next day we visited an ostrich farm.
Our next stop was the Cango caves. This was utterly unbelievable. The caves were outstanding and by going on the adventure tour you were really able to grasp a sense of their natural beauty. However, the caves were a bit of a tight squeeze. I remember freaking out before going up a part of the cave. I thought the gap was too narrow and so I asked the tour guide whether he was going up it and he assured me that he was, only later he told me that there was another route around which he duly had taken!
Leaving South Africa
It was so difficult to leave South Africa. Saying goodbye to our host families was definitely a lot harder than we had anticipated. Everyone was crying, even the boys. This was a true testament to how well we had been looked after and how welcoming our host family had been to us. It was even harder saying goodbye at the airport. I had made so many great friends, people I will never forget. Everyone had inspired everyone else in their own way. Looking back on it, this trip holds some of the best memories. The best thing about the trip was definitely the people.