We had planned to travel to South Africa as volunteers after graduating from high school for a long time. The departure date was getting closer and closer and our worries that we would not be able to start our trip due to the Corona situation became even bigger. At the beginning of January the time had come and we dared to take the step to South Africa – in summary the best decision we could have made.
In order to gain as many experiences and impressions as possible, we had the opportunity to visit several kindergartens during our 5 months in South Africa.
Our first kindergarten that we were allowed to support was “Bright Future”. Due to the corona pandemic, there were only a few children in the first weeks. This made it easier for us to get to know the children and we quickly felt very comfortable. Over time, more and more children came and the usual kindergarten life could take place. We had a very good impression from Zanele the principal and the entire staff. We not only liked the positive climate but also the caring and calm way they prepared the children for school.
After 2 months at “Bright Future” it was time to change the kindergarten and so we went to “Sikuthale”. Once there, we quickly noticed how different the kindergartens in the townships work based on their respective capacities. “Sikuthale” had four classrooms and therefore a few more children. We alternately supported the principal Muriel and the teacher Abigail. In the beginning it was difficult for us to communicate with the children, as they speak in their native language Xhosa. It was different to „Bright Future“, because there they only spoke English. But over time we got used to it and learned to deal with it. Our main task at “Sikuthale” was teaching English. And so we tried to teach the children the basics every day, including numbers, the alphabet, the days of the week and months, but also the different shapes and colors. We were very pleased that we were able to see great progress within four weeks. Which we attribute to the fact that the children could only communicate with us in English. Even the principal Muriel noticed the process. Besides the lessons, we played a lot with the children and supported the teachers in their daily tasks. At “Sikuthale” we were surprised how organized and varied the teachers try to teach the children what they are learning although they don’t have many resources.
We made a short stop at the “Lekkerbekkies” kindergarten, which was built in 2019 by German architects students. Unfortunately, despite the great facilities, there are fewer children than desired, which is why Bernd and Britta had the idea to draw attention to the kindergarten through a Facebook page. In order to design the Facebook page according to Florencina’s ideas, we decided to spend two days in this kindergarten. Here we developed a logo and captured our impressions photographically in order to create posts later. In the two days we noticed the loving and open nature of Florencia, so we find it more sad that she currently only has a few children and we hope that we were able to help her through the Facebook page.
The third kindergarten we attended was called “Lithemba”. Here, too, we received a friendly welcome and we had the opportunity to work mainly with babies and toddlers. Our daily chores changed with the age of the children and so we concentrated more on feeding, diapering and keeping them busy. We also spent a lot of time with the older children and were able to gain even more wonderful experiences.
We have been looking forward to going back to Bright Future for a long time, because we missed the children and we were happy to see them again. In the meantime the kindergarten has filled up, the children have developed further and the learning methods have also been expanded. Spending the last four weeks at “Bright Future” was the perfect end to our stay for us.
In summary, we had a lot of fun volunteering. We were happy to be able to support the children in the townships and to gain an insight into their lives.
We lived in a nice apartment in Strand, where we felt very comfortable. Patricia van der Westhuizen from Travel2Volunteer took us to the projects every day and was always at our side with all questions.
In addition to our work in the kindergartens, we had many opportunities to explore the country itself. From the activities that everyone must have done like Table Mountain, Cape Point, Lions Head to a weekend trip to explore the Garden Route, all options were open to us. Bernd and Britta have also done a lot with us and have made a major impact to ensuring that we will never forget our time in South Africa.
We are simply very, very grateful to everyone involved for this great and educational stay in these turbulent times!