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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.

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Location of the Project:  St. Lucia, South Africa
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Project length:  Min 2 weeks - Max 12 weeks
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Arrival Airport:  King Shaka International Airport (DUR)
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Volunteer Work:  Orphan day care, HIV/AIDS education
Age:  18 - 70. Age Exceptions: this project accepts volunteers who are 17 years old with signed documentation from a parent or guardian.
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Number of Volunteers:  Up to 8 international volunteers

What's Included

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Accommodations:  Large and comfortable house for volunteers
Food:  Three meals a day (excluding Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch)
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Airport Transfers:  Airport transfers are provided on both arrival and departure days. (For odd week departures (3, 5, 7 etc), there is an extra charge for transfer to the airport on departure day.)
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Insurance:  Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage
Orientation:  Orientation provided upon arrival and includes basic teaching skill workshops, basic Zulu language course and introduction to St. Lucia.
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Support:  Local in-country team and 24-hour emergency support

What's not Included

Flights, personal expenses, some weekend meals, and visa (if required)

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
HIV/AIDS Awareness Education: Education is vital in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and breaking down stigma surrounding the illness. As a volunteer, you will be teaching primary school students about:
  • 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
After your morning activities, you will participate in other community development projects throughout the area. These include:
  • 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.
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 activities may differ from the usual schedule, but the work will be equally engaging and rewarding.

Internet
Internet:  You can use any of the internet cafes in town.
Laundry
Laundry:  Weekly laundry service is provided.
Accommodations
Accommodations:  You will stay at a large, comfortable, fully furnished guest house with a lounge, satellite TV, barbeque area, garden, and even a swimming pool! The house is about a five minute walk to town and a 30 minute walk to the beach. The house is staffed with a cook and laundry/cleaning staff. All bedding is provided, but please bring your own beach towels. Rooms are shared with 1-5 other volunteers and the house is staffed with a cook and housekeeper. Daily transportation between accommodations and project site is provided.
Food:  Three meals a day are provided, except Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch (for these meals, you are encouraged to try the local cafes and restaurants or buy groceries at the nearby supermarket). Breakfast consists of hot or cold cereal, toast, coffee and tea, and is available on a serve-yourself basis. Lunch and dinner are prepared by the chef at the volunteer house.

Please take note of this project's minimum requirements:

  • Minimum age of 17 
  • Basic level of 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 snorkeling at Cape Vidal, going on a game drive through iSimangaliso at night, as well as weekend trips to Thanda Reserve or Mozambique. 

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