The GoEco website caught my eye while searching for possible trips abroad. Being interested in volunteering in South Africa I found what looked like a wonderful opportunity. The trip was based in the Cape Town area of the Republic of South Africa (Table View) and was Cape Town Community Projects. Of course, like most people, I was a little uneasy traveling a great distance (I am from east coast USA) to participate with a group I really only knew by way of the internet. Having said that, I performed as much due diligence as possible, watching YouTube videos from other volunteers, reading blogs about recent experiences with the company and project, and finally applying to the company to get direct information.
The process of signing up was pretty painless and offered more information to lessen any anxiety I was feeling. So, I went ahead, once approved, and booked my trip. Needless to say I was quite excited. Upon landing I found my ride and was shown to my room. Good backpacker type facilities. Various numbers of folks per room and shared bathroom facilities, open breakfast in the mornings and a meal provided most evenings. Lunch was available for the volunteers to make for your day on the project.
My first day on the project was a little confusing, as it typically might be when walking into a schoolyard of young children. That said I was amazed how quickly the kids gravitated toward us. Even the new guy was mobbed by hugs upon arrival and frequently throughout the day. The love from these kids is simply amazing. This in and of itself was worth the trip. These kids, who have so very little, adore the “teachers”. Most everyone is called “teacher” until you hang around for a few days then they might start with “Teacher Sean.” So, so cool!
Aside from working with the kids and creating a short lesson or assisting with daily activities, I offered to help a local man work on various labor projects. I helped complete fencing around the schoolyard and vegetable garden, as well as initiated work on shade walls and roof. This will someday also be used as a church and meeting place for the town, as well as a shelter in the hot months for the children.
On the weekends when school was not in session I was able to sign up for some wonderful trips to explore the area. The first full day we took local transportation into Cape Town for a very informative walking tour. At various times I also went on a wine tasting tour, a safari trip to include walking with elephants in the bush, petting an adult female cheetah at a zoo, swimming in the Indian Ocean, and jumping off the world’s highest bungee bridge!
This was such an amazing experience from so many angels it’s hard to describe in a short blog post. In summary I would say if you are interested in this project (I worked at the Sunshine school), the kids and the community need you. Make the decision to GO NOW! As long as you can go with the flow realizing this is a third world country, you will not regret your decision.