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
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. Durban, South Africa
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
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.” South Africa
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
And what impressed you? South Africa
“Before I went to
, 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. South
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 . In South Africa no dream is impossible, if you only want it. In Holland 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.” South Africa
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