One and a half weeks ago, a lovely German girl, Lotte, joined us at Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve.
She is a social worker back in Germany, and wanted to take a half a year off and travel and do volunteering in Africa. She wants to gain more experience about the different cultures, meet local people, help them if necessary, and generally see as much as possible.
She found a volunteering work place as a translator and poster designer, through an online agency for two weeks in Cape Town, South Africa. After this she would fly to Windhoek, Namibia, and start volunteering at a farm there. The rest of the trip is still unplanned.
Lotte’s first experience was not as she expected. She was then introduced to CWBR.
Lotte: I was fascinated by the farm, the amazing view, beautiful garden, and lovely people. One guest at the backpackers at the premises suggested me to contact the CEO of CWBR if he could help me with my situation. He told me immediately that he’d have enough projects for me to get involved in and that I could stay at the farm until my flight to Namibia.
Which project did you choose to join?
Lotte: I helped at eFata Kindergarten. It was amazing to meet the kids. It is devastating to see in what kind of conditions they live. Despite that, they are all absolutely adorable, smiling and very open-minded.
How was this experience compared to what you do as a social worker?
Lotte: I’m used to working with teenagers, so this was a very new experience to me. I also supervise around 15 refugees who are very different to the local teenagers. I understand them more now, as I see what kind of surroundings they might come from.
What is the main difference between “your kids” and the ones you met here?
Lotte: Their behaviour here! They dance and sing all the time. Also, they are more family-people, and it seems like they need a lot more hugs and physical affection. I noticed in South Africa, kids, families and teachers work very well together, and everybody looks after one another. I saw a lot of times that older kids were taking care of younger ones.
Lotte hopes that her experience works as learning experience for those who are currently looking for a job abroad. She highly recommends and encourages everyone to do volunteering, go meet the locals, and people with strong hearts and good intentions!
What other recommendations have you got for potential volunteers?
Lotte: Always check first if the company/organisation has a website, as that says a lot about their reliability and accountability. Try to get in contact with previous volunteers to get their opinions. Also, I find it very important to set up a Skype meeting with the supervisor.
Here is a video of some of the projects that Lotte got involved in. We had eFata children at the farm last Friday, as well as children from St. Vincent Primary who went on one of our eco-educational camps last week. The camp’s aim was also to prepare the children for High School.