Due to the incresed level of poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the rural villages of St. Lucia have an exceptionally large number of children who have lost either one or both of their parents. Their is an undeniable need for volunteers to help care for the orphans and raise awareness in the community.
Part of this project works across several day-care centers run by local women, known as crèches. So far the women running the project have built an adventure playground with swings and slides, helped refurbish classrooms and added bedrooms to school facilities to help bring in children who live too far away to attend school regularly. In addition to supporting the needs of the children, the other part of this project aims to raise awareness about the reality of the HIV/AIDS virus, preventative techniques, and treatment possibilities.
In addition to working with these young children you will also be able to engage in other community projects including support groups as well as having the opportunity to assist local families through outreach activities and tasks, including education, gardening and building work. Together with your family, this project will allow you to make a positive difference in the lives of people, young and old, living in the St Lucia region.
What's not Included
St. Lucia, South Africa is a charismatic town on the northeast coast of the country featuring beautiful, rugged beaches and breathtaking landscapes. St. Lucia is located within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which was declared South Africa's first Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is referred to as "Africa's premier bush-and-beach destination." The park encompasses nearly half a million acres, providing a stunning and ecologically diverse area where five different eco-systems coexist. From savannahs to wetlands, to swamps to beaches, St. Lucia is home to both a wealth of wildlife, as well as to the Zulu tribe with its vibrant and lively culture.
Volunteer work will vary day-to-day, but will be focused around caring for and spending time with the underprivileged local communities of St Lucia.
Your morning schedule may include volunteering at one of the following projects:
Day Care Center: Several crèches and day care centers have been established within the local village of Khula. These centers aim to ensure that the children are provided with a basic meal and education. The love and care they receive is vital as they often get very little attention at home. You role will include helping the crèche caregivers and local teachers with basic learning and fun activities for the children – there can be up to 80 children in a class.
By visiting these day care centers and helping with basic teaching and providing essential care for these children – most under the age of 6 – volunteers will be helping teachers and caregivers in providing these children with the attention they desperately need in their preparation for Primary school.
During your stay, volunteers will undeniably forge special bonds with all involved in the project, from the children to the teachers and community members. On top of helping the children with their learning and development you will also be aiding the teachers in learning more interactive and exciting ways to engage with the children. These centers have very limited resources and many of the teachers lack any form of training.
Support Groups and Farming: Volunteer on this project will be able to get involved in community support groups, aiding in promoting healthy lifestyle choices through providing basic health and nutrition information to a group of adults of different ages. Engaging with the people in these support groups will give you the opportunity to view the real life struggles of the members of this community.
Promoting positive and healthy living is an integral part of community betterment and through your assistance in creating and maintaining vegetable gardens for community members in need, you will be helping to provide healthy food as well as encouraging a more autonomous lifestyle.
Activities on this project may include:
- Initiating discussions on relevant health and wellbeing topics
- Presenting topics to empower support group members
- Digging and weeding support group gardens
- Planting and watering.
In the afternoon, you and your family may get involved in a range of different activities. These could include:
Orphan-Care After-School Club: Many children in St Lucia, are born into situations where their chances for a good upbringing are very low. The children in the afterschool project may have been born to teenage mothers, have lost one or two of their parents to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, while some may have been abandoned at a young age.
The after School Club is an opportunity to provide these children with some attention, care and stimulation. Volunteers assist with serving lunch as well as engaging in educational games and recreational activities with children aged 7-15.
Reading Club: The schools and care centers in the region have very limited resources, including books and text books, so this project provides a relaxed environment for volunteers to help develop a love for reading and literacy amongst the communities teenagers. The Reading Club takes place in a donated shipping container which is filled with books and games for children and adults and is now also the home to the village library.
Most weeks there are between 30-100 teenagers attending, and through a progress record, students leave feeling more confident in their English and reading skills.
Family Empowerment Program: This program affords volunteers the opportunity to interact and form essential relationships with traditional Zulu families from the region. While working on this project you will help these families understand nutrition and income generation, provide essential educational opportunities to children with limited access to school and provide home assistance and refurbishment, including building work.
A typical day: Your day will begin at 7:00 am with a healthy breakfast before you head out to your morning project at 8:30 am. After lunch at 12:30 pm, it's time to resume your afternoon tasks. Your work day will end at 4:30 pm, at which point you will return to the volunteer house for a debriefing and to discuss the schedule for the next day. Dinner is served at 6:00 pm, followed by free time to relax or explore the area.
During school holidays volunteers will run a “holiday club”. Activities may differ from the usual schedule but the work will be equally rewarding.
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
- Basic English
- Good physical fitness
- Motivation to work with children and communities impacted by HIV/AIDS
- Immunizations (please consult doctor)
- Police clearance form
Project Orientation (Included):
On arrival in St. Lucia, you will receive a comprehensive orientation, including:
- Introduction to St. Lucia and the surrounding area
- Overview of the day care center and some basic teaching skills to prepare and deliver lessons to the children
- A basic language course to learn some basic words and sentences in Zulu, the local language in St. Lucia
Travel Extras (Not Included):
During your free time, you are welcome to explore any of the various exciting outdoor activities or culturally-enriching sites St. Lucia and the surrounding area has to offer. Past volunteers have enjoyed surfing and snorkelling at Cape Vidal, going on a game drive through iSimangaliso at night, as well as weekend trips to Thanda Reserve or Mozambique.
Please note that the following activities are all offered at an additional cost. None of these trips are guaranteed departures and are subject to availability and demand.
- Zulu Cultural Night
- Hippo and Croc tour
- iSimangaliso Night game drive
- Surfing/snorkelling at Cape Vidal (introduction lesson)
- Whale watching (Seasonal: June – November)
- Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game drive
- Horse Ride – 1 hr
- Elephant Interaction
- Cheetah Centre – prices subject to number of participants (min 4 pax)
- Thanda Private Game Reserve
- Mozambique dolphin swim – includes visa (min 4 pax)
- Other weekend trip options include: Turtle tours (seasonal: November – March), Kosi Bay, Sodwana Bay, Swaziland, Battlefields, Drakensberg.