Michelle’s Volunteer Experience in South Africa – Footsteps in Cape Town

Posted by: Michelle F.

Spending a month in Cape Town, South Africa, was the best experience of my life. I signed up for the Schools and Educare Project, a placement in the Cape Town Community Projects program for several reasons. I love kids, I plan on being a teacher after I graduate from college, and I wanted to work with underprivileged children to help change their lives in any way possible.

I worked with people from all over the world and made so many connections that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Because this was the first time I traveled overseas, I was so nervous about being on my own in another country. Fortunately, the hostel that I lived in for the month was in the perfect location and it was so easy to make friends. Everyone was so friendly and open to new experiences.

The first day of volunteering with the kids changed my life. Driving through the township of Dunoon was such an eye-opening experience as I saw what little these people had and yet I still saw smiles on their faces. The children had a small school and broken toys but they were still so happy and ready to learn every single day. Even just letting them play with my hair made them so happy. They loved when I took pictures of them. I did face some challenges when it came to the language barrier but I learned the basic words that I needed to know to teach them.

During my free time, I got to experience so many new and crazy things such as skydiving, paragliding, hiking Lion’s Head Mountain, wine tasting, and even getting a tattoo of the outline of Africa. At the end of my trip, saying goodbye to these kids was so hard for me and I cried so hard, hugging the kids and the principal goodbye. On our last day, the other volunteers and I brought so many new toys, diapers, blackboards, tooth brushes, candy, and more for the kids and had a dance party all day to celebrate the time we spent together.

This experience helped me see that I want to relocate to Cape Town, South Africa permanently to teach primary school. I can’t wait to go back one day to work with the school again because this was the most amazing experience of my life.