I’m slowly but surely getting used to this “blogging” concept, so here I go attempting post number 3!
The countdown continues and now there are 3 short days before I take-off!
I wanted to talk a bit about the organisation I will be traveling with when I go to South Africa. I should probably start off by explaining how ‘traveling with an organisation’ works..
When I was deciding what to do for my gap year, there were approximately 1 million choices I could choose from. I could do ANYTHING. I was sure that I wanted to combine traveling and helping/volunteering/working with people, but just taking a backpack, booking a flight to a random place and showing up at an orphanage was just one step a bit too far for young Anna. So when out of a complete coincidence, my dentist (!) tells me about a Luxembourgish organisation called Kenako, who fundraise money for a home for children in South Africa I decided to check it out. After speaking to the members in Kenako, they told me that if I wanted to volunteer I would have to contact the organisation Via Volunteers who take care of the actual volunteers and the volunteer work for that specific children’s home. I was welcomed with very warm hands when I first contacted Via Volunteers; so it felt through the e-mails anyway! So that is how it came about that I found Via Volunteers; lessons learned 1) you’d be surprised by the coincidences in life and 2) go to the dentist!
In 3 days I will be traveling further away from family and friends than I have ever been before, and for a longer period of time than I have ever done. However, because I have organised my activities through Via Volunteers, I am still only feeling pure excitement for my stay in South Africa and I haven’t been nervous about traveling this far for a second!
When you book through an organisation such as Via Volunteers you specifically ‘book’ what you wish to work with and where. Since I knew I wanted to work with people I decided on two projects focused on children and community; Fikelela Children’s Home (which Kenako support) and St. Georges Home for Girls. I will spend 5 weeks with each project, and in between the two I will do a scuba diving course. I feel that being able to set up a general itinerary is one of the big advantages of volunteering through an organisation, especially for the first couple of months away from home. If it hadn’t been for Via Volunteers I probably wouldn’t have decided to try out a scuba diving course for example. The organisation helps you book accommodation and just help you with whatever you need for your stay abroad.
Plenty of choice for what to do on the Via Volunteers website!
Although it does feel slightly strange to have to PAY to work somewhere for FREE, I feel that the money I pay is an investment in me feeling comfortable far away from home. I know there is a safety net behind me, that there is someone who will make sure I am doing well and will help me with anything I need.
It’s been about 100 e-mails since May between me and Ed Scott, the project coordinator at Via Volunteers, but we have now organised everything together and they have been extremely helpful all the way!
Here are just some words from Via Volunteers themselves:
“With more than 10 years’ experience organizing project placements for thousands of volunteers from more than 50 countries, the Via Volunteers team is well placed to provide you with a high quality volunteering experience that will exceed your expectations.”
“Via Volunteers provide you with unparalleled support and personal attention before and during your stay in South Africa. We know the country very well and are on hand to ensure that all aspects of your volunteering adventure are covered with expert advice on all aspects of your stay.”
All in all, I feel very privileged to get this opportunity and I feel like I will be in very safe hands throughout my entire trip! I am also really looking forward to meeting all the children and being able to make a change in their lives!
Goodbye and stay well or Hamba kakuhle as they say in the local language Xhosa, the language spoken by the children at Fikelela Children’s Home!
Fikelela Children’s Home