Volunteer in South Africa – Teach AND SURF in Cape Town

Posted by: Ekaterina

During my life I have visited some wonderful places where I have met a lot of amazing people. Each time I left I felt sad. But I have never felt as upset as I felt leaving Cape Town, the city where I spent the 16 best days of my life. I don’t exaggerate. At all.

I participated in Teach Children and Surf in Cape Town project. After the Cape Town excursion arranged within this project (that was so WOW!) I met project staff and was told about my duties. It took just 10 minutes and everything was clear. There were so many different things to do – we never were bored.

In the morning we went to school and ran mathematics classes. There is a special computer program which is used to test children’s math skills. We taught them how to use a computer, helped them with exercises, explained the concept of multiplication and division, etc.

Usually we had 2 lessons with 30 minutes break. During the break I went for a walk. It was surprisingly funny 🙂 As soon as I left the computer class I was surrounded by dozens of kids who took my hands, hugged me and led me to the playground. The boys showed me the way they dance – well, Michael Jackson would be proud of them! And the girls taught me to play hand games. I am not sure if it is called a hand game, but it is kind of game when they sing a song and move their hands, clap, jump and so on. I tried to play this game but I was kind of looser because they were so fast and I wasn’t at all! 🙂 And they really liked to play with my hair – I don’t know why but it was the best toy for both boys and girls 🙂

Sometimes we just sat at the playground and hug each other. It seems they don’t have enough attention and care and it upset me so much. They don’t need MP3-players, bicycles and PlayStations – they just need to feel they are loved and cared about. And a football, of course 🙂
I think I will never forget a moment when a little girl just jumped on my knees, embraced herself in my arms and… that’s all. The rest of the kids were running and playing with other volunteers and we just sat together like two sisters and enjoyed the day.

After school we had lunch and went… somewhere! Some days we spent on the beach playing different games and swimming in the ocean. There are always different groups of kids, so the activities depends on their age, swimming skills and wishes. One day we made kind of quest game for kids – they needed to carry out some task like take a picture with kite surfers, find out the ingredients of the local fruit cocktail or find a guy in the surf shop and ask him to paint their faces (fortunately, we had time to tell that guy about the task, so he wasn’t surprised 🙂 ). One day we left all the boys (both students and volunteers) to play football on the beach and took the girls to a small beautiful island near the shore. There were some natural pools with very warm water (as opposed to the ocean 🙂 ) where some girls showed us how they can swim.

They were a little bit scared at first but they did it! As to swimming – it was another type of volunteer work. Some days after school we spent at the swimming pool where we taught children to swim. We always had a lot of fun there, played water games and dove. What can be better on a beautiful sunny day?!During our free time (before leaving to the project or on the days off) we had surf lessons. Eeeeeahhhh!!!!! I’ve never surfed before and still I can’t find appropriate words to express my feelings! EXCITING! TREMENDOUS! FANTASTIC! It is SO TERRIFIC when (finally!) you stand up on the board and feel the wave move you so fast! And then you fall 🙂 and turn back, wait for another wave and stand up on the board again and again and again… Wonderful! By the way, once a week it is a surf lesson for children, so you can teach them everything you have been taught! They adore surf lessons and were always so excited during them!

I worked with a lot of other volunteers whom were from all over the world – from Canada through Norway to Australia. We spent all days together working at the project, having fun in the evening, going out and surfing. I miss each of them so much!It was so hard to leave this place. It was like I left my home though I spent there just 16 days. When I look through my pictures and see these amazing kids, these people who became my friends, beautiful Cape Town and its surroundings landscapes (there are so many places to see and things to do when you are in Cape Town!) I feel sad. I feel sad because it has finished. But I am so grateful to all world’s powers that I was there. And I hope someday I will get back!