The beginning of the trip
For those who don’t know, I took a second big trip to South Africa and Eswatini. This trip was not only travelling, it included also volunteering.
So first thing first.
Back home, I was searching if it was possible to travel and to my surprise it was possible. But it was a bit harder, I was searching for countries and there it was: a volunteering project. The project involved a little bit of travelling and volunteering. I was curious and clicked on it and after reading the itinerary I was so excited and decided to go for it!
The first day
On the first day, I had a great experience. It began with a warm welcome at the airport from our best All Out Africa staff member Bob. And a first great experience with the other volunteers and the staff in the Kruger Park. From the first moment, the group was so close. I had the best time and a lot of inside jokes. I was sad that I had to leave the stunning place and the staff with all their wisdom about nature and animals. And I will miss the funny stories.
A special thanks to Adriaan our ranger. Or shall I say, Andrew? But also Phayo, Bob and Roland for this great experience. Most of all for your patience with us with our silly and weird questions, we had a great time.
Then it was time for the next experience where we came for the volunteering, in Eswatini, one of the smallest countries in the African continent with stunning scenery. We had a second big warm welcome from the All Out Africa and the Lidwala lodge staff. Lidwala Lodge became our second home, a beautiful lodge surrounded by a lot of nature.
After settling down, we had two orientations and followed by a guided tour in one of the most famous and iconic residential villages Lobamba. It was finally time for volunteering. And there it was: our first day, It all started with the Kombis (the public transport) it is so different from home, but luckily Eunice the NCP coordinator was with us for guidance.
The bus is very small and it is called a kombi, If you need a kombi, you just stand near the road and wave at the kombi. The kombi stops for you and you say your stash (drop off place) and you get in. Sometimes you have a place and sometimes not. The first time it was a little bit scary, but luckily the people were so helpful and always keen to help, especially when we were wearing our volunteering shirts.
Back to the story, together with Femke my NCP buddy, we went to our NCP for the first time, which is in Mvutjini (in the beginning, we didn’t pronounce it right and that gave us a lot of laughter). We were in shock the first time at our NCP, to be honest. It was so different from home, we came to realize that we were so privileged. Besides a lot of love from the teacher, the school didn’t have much, they have to work with almost nothing because they rely on donations.
NCP which stands for neighbourhood care point is an informal preschool, most of the underprivileged and orphans in the Kingdom go to an NCP for education and there are eight NCPs that are supported by All Out Africa. One of the interesting things about the NCPs is that the teachers are not professional teachers but they are passionate about working with children and want to give them a good future. You can say the teachers are volunteers too. At the NCPs they are not only providing pre-education, but they also provide meals for the children and do sports with them. They get a chance for a brighter future. I love to be a part of that. I know I can’t change the world, but every step helps.
I was thinking: how can I do more? I know about the development of children. Back home, I have a degree and I am a specialist in the development of children from 0-6 years old. After a lot of thinking and discussing with the other volunteers, we found a solution to help a little.
We had the idea to make a program with suggestions for the whole school year. Together with the other volunteers, we set up a book to teach children how to write. The staff from All Out Africa was happy and asked if we can do more with this project. So the project became bigger and bigger. Together with Eunice, the NCP coordinator, we came with the idea to give all the NCP teachers a workshop. I was so excited because I love to host workshops.
And there it was: a workshop about the development of pre-writing and the stages. The biggest and most important message was how a child learns through play.
The day of the workshop was here and I was so nervous because I had to host a workshop in English which is not my first language. That day, we had to face a big problem. This day there weren’t driving Kombis. So the staff had to improvise. Simise (Marketing Coordinator and Team leader) and Michael (Building and Sports coordinator) had to drive all the volunteers to the NCP”s and collect all the teachers to Lidwala Lodge where we hosted the workshop. So it took a little bit longer until I could start with the workshop. The nerves got me, but then there was the lovely Tiphiwe (she works at the office and every day she has the patience to listen to me for a nice little chat). She was comforting me. During the workshop, Simise (the team leader with the funniest laugh) was supporting me.
During the workshop, every minute I felt more and more comfortable doing it in another language. We had a good conversation and exchanged knowledge and experiences. It was a nice workshop. The teachers were very happy and asked a lot of questions. They were so curious and were willing to learn things. It was a big pleasure to meet all the teachers and give them this workshop.
Lastly, I want to give a big shout out to the other volunteers to help me set this up. And a big thanks to All Out Africa for giving me this opportunity.
It is so beautiful to see that there are people in this world that are willing to help the unprivileged. And that they give them a chance. A big compliment to the staff from All Out Africa, that they are so dedicated and took us, the volunteers, under their wings for this big impression.
If you want to know more about All Out Africa, donate or volunteer. Just look at their website or feel free to approach them with questions. If you want to know more inside information from the volunteers about this experience, the staff from All Out Africa can help you to get in contact with me or the other volunteers.
Thank you and best wishes,
Written by Shirley Ramkhelawan