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Volunteer Review: Grace M., Care & Community in South Africa

Care & Community volunteers out for dinner in Cape Town

As I boarded the plane from Dublin airport, a million questions began running through my head. The moment I arrived, all my worries were laid to rest. I couldn't have asked for a more accommodating, optimistic and welcoming host mother. She made me feel at home instantly. I have never been in the company of someone so friendly and loving. Getting to know her and all the other 20 teenagers living with me in the house over a delicious meal on my first night, I soon came to realize that the forthcoming two weeks would be great!

My Care & Community placement

Grace and the other volunteer painting a wall mural at a day care centre

Over the next two weeks, I worked in a day care center and I loved every second of it! I worked mostly with the teacher and children in class one. The class consisted of 56 children, aged three and four. The children were absolutely adorable and made my experience so fulfilling. They were always so excited to see us in the mornings. We were given the task of implementing a hygiene routine in the school. After a late night, 106 toothbrushes with the children’s names on them, five posters and two songs later, we were ready to teach the children how to brush their teeth and wash their hands. The children were so appreciative of their toothbrushes as well as any other small things we gave them. This really made my trip special and put things into perspective for me.

High School Special Care & Community volunteers in South Africa

Through a fun-filled sports day and various lessons, I grew so close to the children. I loved playing with them and spending time with them, finding it difficult to leave my placement each day. The staff in the school was all so warm and my Projects Abroad supervisor was great company. Like all the other supervisors, he was easy going and had a great sense of humor! As well as working with the children, I helped to paint another day care center and cook for a large township during community days. These days were so much fun and highly rewarding. The people we helped were so full of gratitude enhanced my African experience.

Free time in South Africa

The children at the day care centre learning how to wash their hands properly

Beyond volunteering, Projects Abroad were excellent in helping us get a taste of the South African culture. We visited markets and attended a show, as well as participating in an African drumming class. The country itself is beautiful. We visited Table Mountain, Robben Island and Cape Point (to name a few!). We managed to do a lot in the short time we were there yet I always felt relaxed and at ease. We managed to visit a few shopping centers and some very good restaurants as well! My favorite night was the last, during which we visited a restaurant called Marco’s African Place. The restaurant had live music which inspired all my new friends and me to go up and dance. This came as no surprise to me as all of my house mates loved to dance and have a good time. It was such good fun and everyone at the restaurant began to video us. This night proved to me how much the people living in my house had bonded and I realized how I had made such amazing friends in such a short space of time.

I found leaving the country so difficult! It was a rewarding trip full of grateful and affectionate South African people and their loveable children, new lifelong friendships with people from all over the world and a fantastic culture full of singing, dancing and laughing. What more could you want? My only regret is not choosing the four-week program over the two-week program!

My time in Cape Town is something I’ll never forget!

Grace M.

This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.

This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.

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