We asked Petra, one of our recent volunteers to write honestly about her experience on our South Africa volunteer Projects. This is what she said:
After reflecting on my life last autumn I decided to do “something different” in my next holidays. Since I felt in love with Africa as a whole and South Africa in particular some years ago, it was an easy decision to do some volunteering work in this beautiful country.
Spending two weeks in a nature reserve was one exiciting thing. But coming to Knysna and Edge of Africa was something even bigger! The warm welcome, yummie-tasty food (imagine having somebody preparing meals ever day beside weekends ;-)!), free Wifi and laundry service were just some of the amenities in the volunteer house. Situated on a hill in a quiet area and an amazing view over the Knysna bay made our stay even more pleasant.
I booked the “HIV Awareness and Community Outreach” programm and was a little bit disappointed to found the HIV training only once on my schedule – like some of my other favorites (Recycling Swop Shop, Literacy Class and Support Groups) being promised in advance.
BUT: The dedicated Edge of Africa staff came up with some other projects instead which turned out to be really great fun and success (just to mention Time Banking)!
So just be flexible and curious and you´ll have the time of your life like I´ve had! Forget about perfectionism (a thing that´s said to be typically German :-)) and trust the longtime experience of Dayne and her great team, who were always willing to lend a sympathetic ear! We worked together in a constructive way, keeping at the back of our minds the success of the projects. Any good idea was welcomed, acknowleged (!) and implemented where possible.
Last but not least: Not to forget about all the lovely, interesting and thankful people we met on our working tours through the townships! They really appreciate the precious work Edge of Africa does for the community. So being part of it as a volunteer you can gain so much amiability and cordiality – you won´t hardly find it in our saturated European society, where wealth only is defined by the value of the newest technical gadget, the size of the car you drive and all the other posessions one owns.
Please don´t get me wrong; I don´t want to romanticize their hard every day lives. But the people I´ve met there gave me the impression that they know what really matters: To vouch for each other, being honest and tolerant (beside the xenophobic movement just started in April …), confident, living in the present, and so on.
So if you are open minded and like to experience something great that tourists won´t – don´t hesitate to join some of the EoA projects.
Just do – and you won´t regret!
For more information about the programme that Petra was part of, click here.