Volunteering in South Africa – Impacting Children’s Lives

Posted by: Marguerite

I love volunteering in South Africa at the project Cape Town Community Projects. It was my first day today and I can’t even explain the physical reaction I had. I didn’t bring a camera today because I didn’t know how safe it was but I’ll bring it tomorrow – we have a fence around the school. The townships are just these rundown shacks (barely shacks – they look like a forgotten old tree house but on the ground). It’s horrible.

No electricity or running water. But bonding with the kids and teaching them is an amazing experience. They love you so much instantly and I loved them instantly too. I have never been in such poverty and it’s overwhelming. The hardest thing I had to see today was a boy who looked about 8 sitting outside his shack on the ground watching us play and sing with the kids. The school only goes up to 5. I wanted to invite him over so badly. It just broke my heart. This is one of the most prospective changing things I have done yet. I feel humbler than a sack of potatoes right now.

Day 2 of teaching was amazing. This is one of the nicer schools. It is very small and there is only one compost toilet (so I stay dehydrated all day as you can imagine). Most everyone here speaks Afrikaans. I was given a tour of Skandaal (name of the township). Most of my pics are on my Nikon so none to share now. It is very dirty and lots of tuk (meth). I don’t think I even need to say it is heartbreaking. I really love these kids so much already. I definitely have a few favorites. And I’m actually learning some names which I thought would never happen. They have the clicking sound and another sound that is hard for me but I’m getting by.

Ok, I’m exhausted and thirsty. Today was my last day at school. We had a fruit party with pirate and princess hats. It was so much fun. But I am so sad. I arrived crying because of all the chaos and poverty, but I’m crying now because of all the beauty and happiness there is at Skandaal. It is such a special place even though it needs so much help. Some of the people there (the ones clean from drugs) are the happiest most supportive people I have ever met. I feel totally safe walking around there by myself now because they know me. They love the crèche (school) and would do anything to protect it.

I sort of became the head teacher there quickly. And the kids listen to me and trust me – and I learned a little Xhosa (pronounced kosa) too. I’m such a mess right now because I love them and I feel awful leaving them. In a perfect world I would stay and make sure I saw them all graduate from high school.

I pushed for a field trip this week and brought all the kids to the beach. It was the fist time they left their township (which is literally the city dump site). Some were scared at first but then they had the best day. We made sand castles and jumped in the waves. It was one of the most incredible days of my life. I wish I could take them everywhere.

Ok, I’ll stop now. This has been the best two weeks. I’m going up Table Mountain now.