Volunteering in South Africa on the project Cape Town Community Projects was truly the greatest experience of my life. As soon as I was dropped off at the accommodations and was introduced to all of the lovely staff and project coordinators, I knew that this trip was going to be amazing. Everyone, including all of the volunteers, greeted me with smiles and a lot of amazing helpful tips and comments. I arrived on a Friday, so I was able to settle in for a weekend before volunteer work began.
That first weekend was incredible. I did a tour of Cape Town, spent a lot of time at the beach, which were some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, shopped at incredible outdoor markets, and explored the amazing city. My first Monday of volunteering was filled with nothing, but excitement. I couldn’t wait to meet the children and families I would be helping. Driving to Skandaalkamp, the township where I volunteered, made me very emotional because I never imagined the poverty and horrible living conditions.
The most memorable moment of my whole time was seeing the children for the first time. They were waiting at the fence of the school, HUGE smiles on their faces, cheering and screaming for all of us. I could feel their love just by looking at their faces. Getting out of the van, we were swarmed by children hugging and grabbing at us, smiling, laughing, and dying to play.
My first day was incredible and made me realize that I had made the best decision by volunteering in South Africa. The next 6 weeks were truly the greatest weeks of my life. I got extremely close with the staff, other volunteers, and of course the children. I was able to learn about each of the children’s lives and their unique personalities. When I started volunteering, I thought I was there to make a difference for them, but I can honestly say, they made a difference for me. I came out of this experience a new person. There is not enough time or words to fully explain my incredible experience in Cape Town. I am extremely grateful I was able to volunteer and am already looking forward to returning to the wonderful city of Cape Town, South Africa.