From October to December 2018 I was lucky enough to spend nine weeks as a volunteer in South Africa.
For a long time my wish was to travel to South Africa to get to know the culture and the people of this country and to get an insight into the lives of people in poorer areas. Volunteering in a project on site in a kindergarten was therefore an ideal opportunity to gain this experience. The travel period was also perfect, as I started from the beginning of winter in Germany into the summer to South Africa. I had no great expectations for the trip beforehand, because I wanted to be surprised and take the impressions unbiased.
Through Britta and Bernd I came to the kindergarten project “SIKHUTHALE”, a school with 120 children in the township of Asanda- Village.
My daily routine in the project was as follows: I arrived at the kindergarten at about 8 o’clock in the morning. First all the children came together, sang and waited for the remaining children and teachers. Then the children were divided into their classes and went to the respective classroom with their teacher. I supported Abegail in Grade Ra, the pre-school class. When the teacher wasn’t there, I was often allowed to lead the class. But even so I had the opportunity to bring in many ideas. I also helped the principal a lot in her office: preparing new documents and documents for the new school year. Furthermore I tried to teach the principal the basics of Word on the computer. The Grade R children were all around 6 years old and were prepared for grade one. The lessons were divided into different phases and were held in English and Xhosa. The materials available to the teacher were very simple and minimalistic compared to German standards, but completely sufficient. For example, they practiced counting with bottle caps.
Among other things, the children learned the numbers of 1-10, body parts, colors and days of the week – also in English. After the first part of the lesson was breakfast time and then time to play with memory cards, toy blocks and something similar. After that, referring to the topic of the morning, something was often painted or crafted. At 12 o’clock it was lunch break and afterwards free play in the outside yard. For me, the day usually ended with this and I was driven home again.
I lived in Strand, a place about 45 minutes from Cape Town, in an apartment with 11 other volunteers. The apartment was run by Patricia, who was on hand to help and took over the driving services for the projects. In our free time and on weekends we explored Cape Town and the surrounding area, like Table Mountain and Lion’s Head or we went to one of the numerous food markets or a winery. Due to the many people in the apartment, there was never any boredom and there was always someone who wanted to go on a trip. Highlights in South Africa for me – apart from the experiences in kindergarten and the excursions around Cape Town – were the 5-day trip along the Garden Route with a visit to an ostrich farm, the Cango Caves as well as a safari and an Elephant Bush Walk.
Back in cold Germany, I am very grateful for all the great experiences I have had and the people I met during my time in South Africa. This includes Bernd and Britta, who were always available as contact persons during my stay. Staying in South Africa made me realize how good our standard of living is in Germany compared to the living conditions of the people in the township and that it is not self-evident to be able to live like us. I really can recommend a trip to South Africa to everyone! And it would be nice if there were more projects and supporters of this kind!