With nearly 70 percent of the local population infected with HIV/AIDS, the rural villages of St. Lucia have an exceptionally large number of children who have lost either one or both of their parents. The prevalence and impact of HIV/AIDS in these communities reflects the importance and 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.
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.
Your work will vary day-to-day, but will be focused around caring for and spending time with the underprivileged children of the local communities, as well as spreading knowledge, understanding, and awareness of HIV/AIDS to the surrounding area. Your morning schedule will include volunteering at one of the following projects:
Orphan day-care centers: Overall, your aim is to assist the crèche caregivers and local teachers by helping with fun, educational activities for the children. Your tasks may include:
- Teaching children basic lessons in an interactive and engaging manner
- Providing one-on-one assistance to help children in their transition to primary school
- Developing imagination and creative skills through crafts and games
- What the HIV/AIDS virus actually is and how it affects the human body
- How the virus is transmitted and how infection can be prevented
- How, after infection, life can be prolonged through medication, healthy eating, and lifestyle changes
- Orphan care after-school club: Provide attention, care and stimulation to the orphans in the area through educational games and sports.
- Adult English classes: Help adults find employment by assisting them with their English speaking, reading, writing and listening skills.
- Reading club: Create a relaxed and fun environment to promote literacy by leading the reading club at the village library.
- Family empowerment program: Help the program promote its focus on family nutrition and income generation.
- Farming: Create and maintain the community vegetable garden.
- Building and refurbishment: Repair schools, day-care centers, orphanages and other rundown buildings in the community.
During school holidays activities may differ from the usual schedule, but the work will be equally engaging and rewarding.
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
- Minimum age 17
- Basic English
- Good physical fitness
- Motivation to work with children and communities impacted by HIV/AIDS
- Immunizations (please consult doctor)
- Police clearance form
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.
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