Aine’s Volunteer Experience in South Africa – Where is the Love

Posted by: Aine D.

I sat listening to Black Eyed Peace singing “…people got me, got me questioning – where is the love?” and let me tell you the one place that came to mind straight away for me; I found endless amounts of love in Cape Town. For the two weeks I spent at the Teach Children and Surf project, working with kids from unfortunate backgrounds, the word love grew and expanded in my mind & I learned new ways to share this wonderful feeling with others. During my time at project I made lifelong new friendships with other volunteers, shared so much laughter with the amazing kids who we took care of, and learned A LOT about the diverse culture and life in Cape Town, South Africa.

Our daily schedule typically looked like:
7.30 AM – Get up & have some brekkie before project
8.00 AM – Leave for project (kindergarden 2-6yrs old – play/teach)
12 PM – Return for lunch
1.30 PM – Take the older kids (12-14yrs) for a surf/skate/swim lesson
3.00 PM – Finish for the day, discuss the days ups & downs
After this we would usually find something fun to do for the afternoon; head to the beach, go skating along the esplanade, head to the mall & watch cinema, go out for drinks, karaoke nights, do sunset hikes up Lion’s head (mountain top), have a bbq etc.

One of my favourite things about the mornings we spent at the Kindergarten, with these girls and their classmates, was their positive energy and smiles. I found it so interesting to see how much time they spend dancing and singing in class – music has such a big part of their culture, and you can tell that they really enjoy loosing themselves to the rhythm and grooving to the beat. These little 6 year olds were to already way past me when it comes breaking it down on the dance floor! Apart from this, we spent a lot of time playing games like “Simon Says”, reading stories to them, drawing exercises and some simple mathematics/English exercises.

We were at project 5 days/week, with the weekends being at your own leisure – which gave us plenty of time to explore the AMAZING surroundings in which we found ourselves. For example, we hiked up Table Mountain – the most AMAZING view of Cape Town and it’s surroundings. The hike up wasn’t easy, but it was SO worth it! We also took a day trip to the wine-lands, during which we visited 5 picturesque wine-farms in the Stellenbosch area. I’ve never been the biggest fan of red wine, but not even my stubborn taste-buds could resist the yummy wine we were presented with during the tour!

There were always “socials” during the weekends/time off, which often included local volunteer work/getting involved with the local community in a fun & proactive way. I joined in on the “Color Run” one: we turned into smurfs!

Apart from all the various activities we’d get up to, we also had a lot of time to just relax & hang out with each other: we had a lot of bonding time on the beach/partying on Long Street during the weekends! If you’re considering going, I would recommend it to almost anyone – as long as you come to the project with an open mind and a positive mindset, you will leave with nothing but amazing memories, valuable life-lessons and new friends. Oh! And make sure that you bring your camera, because there will be A LOT of photo opportunities, trust me!