Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Hey everyone! In my previous post I already announced that I wanted to write a post about my sister Lotte.
The past two months she was a volunteer in Durban, South Africa. She worked at a project in an orphan house. I really want to share her story with you, because it's a story worth telling. She's only 18 years old, but did something so important for people at the other side of the world. I hope you will take the time to read this. There were a lot of pictures, and it was hard to make a selection, because all the photos are so beautiful. I'm starting with a few now, and if you're interested you can see more by clicking on READMORE. There you can also read the interview with my sister!  I hope you'll enjoy and that it will inspire you.

Why did you choose to go to South Africa?
“I got the idea because I wanted to take a break from school, but I didn’t want to do nothing in that year. Besides, I have always wanted to do something like this, volunteering, and this was the moment for it. When I got a leaflet from my sister about volunteering abroad, I searched for more information about it. I discovered the Dutch organisation Be More. I chose this organisation, because they had a project in South Africa that really appealed to me: working with children. Furthermore, I have always wanted to go to South Africa, so it was a good opportunity to combine it all. So when I decided I wanted to go, I started working full time in a supermarket and saved my money, until it was finally time for me to go.”

Can you tell something about the project where you’ve been working?
“The project where I volunteered, is called Mother of Peace. It’s an orphan house and shelter. There live about 75 children who have nowhere else to go.
The children are divided in little families, counting about six children and one housemother. Every family lives together in one house on the terrain. Mother of Peace ensures that every child gets a place to live and is able to go to school. The project also has an own daycare where children from the townships (the area) can go to in the daytime.
As a volunteer, you can help out a lot: you can help in the daycare, teach the children to speak English, but another important way to help out is to give the children love and attention. You also get your own house assigned, where you go to for an hour everyday to help out the housemother with the children.”

What did an average day look like?
“At 8 o’clock in the morning I started working at the daycare. The children started with simple lessons (learning the alphabet, numbers, colours, days of the week, figures) and at 10 o’clock they got tea and bread. Then the children went outside to play and at midday they got dinner. After dinner they took a nap and at 1 PM the daycare was over.
You could also help in the babyroom in the morning. In the babyroom you could entertain the little ones.
In the afternoon there were always two volunteers in the babyroom and one volunteer at the playground, a big lawn where the children could play football or other games. The most important task there was to keep an eye on the children and to play games with them.
Between 5 and 6 PM every volunteer went to his/her own house to help the housemother with bathing the children and doing other tasks.”

And an average week?
“On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays there were ‘reading lessons’ for the children who couldn’t speak English very well. When you worked there, you helped the children enlarge their vocabulary with the aid of flashcards and simple books.
On Thursdays there was always ‘toy library’. Children were able to borrow toys. When they borrowed something, it was noted. When they brought it back the next day, they got the permission to borrow something again. But if they didn’t return their toys of brought it back broken, they weren’t allowed to borrow new toys for one till three weeks. With this method the children learned to get responsibility.

In the evenings from Monday till Thursday the children were able to go to the ‘Homework Room’. This was especially for the children who were already going to school. In the Homework Room they had the opportunity to make their homework and to ask the volunteers for help, if that was necessary.”

What do you think about South Africa? And what impressed you?
“Before I went to South Africa, I heard that is was a very dangerous country and that you could trust nobody. Also you couldn’t wear little shorts or low shirts, you shouldn’t walk around with expensive stuff and you should constantly pay attention to how the local people would respond to you.
Afterwards, I can say that it’s not so extreme as claimed. Yes, you shouldn’t walk alone or with a couple of girls in the city and you shouldn’t walk around with expensive stuff, but it’s not true that you can’t  trust anyone. A lot of Africans were so nice and helpful. And the people on the project were so kind and grateful for what we as volunteers did.

The culture is a little careless sometimes. They don’t keep appointments and they are often late, but you get used to that very soon. Something that also stayed with me, is how hard the people are working there, harder than we will ever do. The children walk to school, more than an hour long, just to get an education. The housemothers are 20 days away from home when they are working at the project, and then they go back to take care of their own families for 5 days. The housemothers are working so hard, they stay up at 5 o’clock in the morning and take care of the entire household and the children. I really respect them for that, because it’s not easy.’’

What have you overcome in South Africa?
“I have overcome a lot: homesickness, fear of flying, fear of heights.. but above all, I learned that I can count on myself. I definitely became stronger and more independent by everything that I have experienced. And something very cliché: I learned to appreciate everything in life more, because you really get confronted with how easy life is in Holland in comparison with South Africa. In Holland no dream is impossible, if you only want it. In South Africa it’s different. Even though you work very hard, some things will just never be in your reach. And that’s so hard, because I think some people in South Africa deserve it more than the people here.”

What was it like to say goodbye at the end?
“It was very difficult to say goodbye to a place where you’ve been trough so much. A place where I spend the two most beautiful months of my life. I met here so many new people, with whom I build a friendship. Children, people of the staff and my fellow volunteers. And especially a few children in particular.
Although I’d rather left without saying goodbye, there were a lot of children standing around the buss to wave us goodbye. One of my favorites, a 3 year old boy, looked at me with his big eyes en asked me: “You going?” As if it dawned to him right at that moment. When I confirmed that, he said with his little voice: “Noo!” It brought tears to my eyes. That moment, a piece broke off of my heart, that is left behind in Africa, with the children and the project Mother of Peace.”

Do you want to go back again?
“I really want to go back some day, to visit the children again, and look how they are doing and how they want to fill their future. Because despite everything they’ve been through, it’s so special to see how they are still able to love and trust people and how they dare to dream about their future. I sincerely hope that their dreams will come true, because they deserve it.”

All the photos are taken by my sister Lotte and the other people working
at the project Mother of Peace


  1. Wauw, wat een interessant verhaal! En wat mooi. Prachtige foto's, vooral die met die zonnebrillen vind ik mooi. Je ziet gewoon dat die kinderen gelukkig ervan worden. En dan hebben wij al die luxe waar sommige nog eens blij van worden..

  2. Such a great post, dear! You were right, definitely a story worth telling! You must be proud of your sister, she did something extraordinary! My compliments to her, so young but already so strong and willing to help people !

    Love, Alessia



  3. What a beautiful post!! Your sister is such a loving person with a very big heart!!

  4. Waow.. she is 18 years old and already did so much.. shame me.. but that really touch story.. when i see the kids eyes, they are so innocent and so lovely.. but really your sis really inspire me.. she is really awesome.. you must be proud to have sis like her.. thanks for sharing and inspire me

  5. Wauw, Kir! Wat een mooie post zeg.. Die foto's zijn ook echt prachtig! x

  6. Wow...your sister is inspiring! This is a lovely post about her. Her volunteer work truly does make me want to be a part of something bigger than myself.
    Thank you for sharing :)

    Enter to win a $50 voucher for Dark Horse Jewelry!
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  7. Wat een mooie foto's en wat een mooi verhaal. Wat een goed project ook, zo kan je op een simpele manier heel veel mensen helpen!

  8. Thanks for sharing these. Your sister is such an inspiration and the pictures are beautiful.


  9. A great adventure and volunteering experience! You've a fabulous sister!

  10. Those pictures are so sweet! Your sister is in a big adventura and amazing volunteering experience!

  11. woow...very beautiful photo...It'a a great advendute and an important experience ;-)
    nice day

  12. So inspiring!! Your sister is amazing person!

  13. Zoo mooi verhaal kirsten! Dat laatste stukje bracht ook echt tranen in mijn ogen.. lijkt me erg heftig om de vriendschappen die je hebt opgebouwd weer los te laten. Ik hoop echt dat je zusje nog eens terug kan gaan, en hoop dat het goed met alle lieve jongetjes gaan en dat ze hun dromen mogen bereiken. Liefs! xx

  14. Wat een leuke foto's en interview, erg inspirerend! Lijkt me ook heel tof om het mee te maken. X

  15. Wauw! Dit is zo indrukwekkend! Een vriendin van mij gaat dit deze zomer ook doen. Ik vind het zo goed en natuurlijk ook heel spannend! Lijkt me een onvergetelijke ervaring!

  16. Wow, dit is zo indrukwekkend en inspirerend! Echt heel goed dat ze zoiets doet

    xoxo Sootjeelina

  17. what an amazing sister you have...she truly is inspiring =)

  18. Soooo beautiful photos! You have a stylish sister! :)

    1. thanks, but this post is not really about style...

  19. Thank you Kirsten for sharing this great experience! Your sister did a great job and you must be very proud of her. If you want I can also support this project and share some photos and info on my blog.

  20. wow amazing photos. im your newest follower

  21. Fantastic photos and great post!

    Would love it if we could follow one another? Let me know!

  22. This is such a great post and it sounds like a beautiful project!

  23. great blog...thanks for your comment!
    follow each other? Write in my blog if you want...

  24. Wow that is amazing! I would love the opportunity to do this as well. We must appreciate everything we have in life :)


  25. lovely blog. Do you want to follow each other darling? XoXo

  26. Wauw, wat een kans ook om daar heen te gaan. De foto's zijn ook prachtig zeg!

  27. wat een mooi verhaal,
    en prachtige foto's! xx

  28. Beautiful photos. Your sister must be a very special person, and obviously you are very proud of her. Congratulations. Have a nice day.

  29. WOW great photos , so expressive!!!

    kisses from Italy


  30. waauw, prachtig!
    elkaar volgen via GFC &bloglovin'? xloves.

  31. when i like blogs like yours I used to come over and over again.

  32. amazing pic! love your blog and now im following you!! :)

  33. Wow mooie foto's en verhaal! Echt goed van je zus

  34. WOWW... I'm speeachless. WHAT an amazinh post!! I bet you had learnt a lot. :)) Well done Kirsten.

    Lots of love from England/Brazil! xxx


I appreciate all of your comments! ♥

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