Volunteering in South Africa for the project Cape Town Community Projects was one of the most influential experiences of my life. After landing in Cape Town, I was immediately greeted by a staff member who drove me from the airport to my accommodations. He helped carry my luggage and introduced me to the rest of the staff. I arrived late on a Friday night and had the weekend to settle in and meet other volunteers. On my first day in Cape Town, I went on a sunrise hike up Lions Head and experienced the most magnificent view. It was my first time seeing Cape Town in the light and it was truly a special moment.
The rest of the weekend I had time to meet all of the current volunteers, everyone was extremely friendly and inviting. On Monday, I was introduced to the project and had training with other new volunteers; the training prepared us for how we could make the most of our time spent at the crèche. We learned different skills for how to educate the children and how to overcome the language barrier. Tuesday was my first day at Skandaalkamp. I was told what to expect, but seeing it myself was truly eye opening. The shacks that filled the community were made of scraps collected from the neighboring dumpsite.
Although living conditions were unimaginable, the children greeted us with endless smiles and laughter. They were so happy and appreciative of our attention and interactions. I spent the next 4 weeks at Skandaalkamp helping improve the education and lives of the beautiful children of Skandaalkamp.
After project and on the weekends we were encouraged to explore the culture and land of South Africa. I went on multiple hikes exploring the beauty of South Africa, browsed through different local craft and food markets, enjoyed the various beautiful beaches, bungee jumped, sky dived, and shark cage dived. There are endless activities to embark on and always plenty of people to enjoy them with.
The most memorable moment on the trip was my last day. We had been fundraising for winter jackets, boots, and hats for the children, to prepare them for the cold winter that was quickly approaching. On my last day, we handed out the clothes to the children and their families. All of the kids were so excited and happy, I am so glad I was able to be apart of such an amazing organization and meet all of the wonderful people. I will always remember my time spent in South Africa and happy to say that this experience has increased my cultural awareness. I look forward to returning to South Africa and continuing to support the organization to improve the lives of the children and their families.