VOLUNTEERING IN CAPE TOWN DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC ANDY SCHUSTER

6 – 7 – 8 weeks South Africa during a global pandemic

Long before Covid started I knew, as soon as I would finish my studies and therefore before I enter the cooperate business world, I wanted to go back to the country I fell in love so many years ago, to give something back to those who are not blessed with luck like myself and to once again learn to appreciate and value all that we so often take as granted and do an international volunteer program in Cape Town.

To start I would love to speak about Chantéls reaction when I first contacted her – about her surprise and disbelieve as she couldn’t imagine that someone actually wants to come during those difficult times for her country South Africa  but more important about the enthusiasm and effort she did show and put in as soon as it vanished. Not only given the short time I provided her, before I would arrive in Cape Town and the fact that for more than a year no one would have wanted to come and therefore projects weren’t just there. Looking back to that, knowing her now and meanwhile considering her a close friend, I shouldn’t be surprised about what a great job she did.

As it has not been my first time volunteering and the experiences with offering international companies had been mostly mediocre – I decided that this time I would go with a local organization and I was proven right all along the way – never before have I ever been provided with such an excellent  service as here.

That service Chantél and her company provide does not only show in the way everything was organized, but also in how she helps you to personal growth/development. At first I wasn’t to excited when I heard about the weekly sessions we would have to process and evaluate what had happened. But as time went by I learned to appreciate it very much, as it helped to reflect on how yourself changed, what you have achieved so far, but most important to refocus on the big goal you’re working towards. So everyone who’s a little like me, not too much focused on himself, but on what’s surrounding him and willing to make a difference, will most certainly appreciate the passion with which Chantél goes to work, as well as the companie’s philosophy to not only provide the volunteer with nice memories but to change something for the better, make an sustainable impact and create an environment/experience from which both sides benefit.

So what was my international volunteer project all about? I’ve spent my time in a children’s home which has moved not too long ago from a small house onto a farm. With the goal of getting sustainable and self-sufficient, a lot of construction work needed to be done but of course that wasn’t all: Educational work, vacation programs, giving rides, the eventually cooking of a traditional German meal or just spending some fun time with the kids always made sure the day was packed. A great feeling ;D

In the beginning of my international volunteer program it was planned to consist of two projects, but as usual time passed way too fast and it didn’t feel like the work was done yet nor that the way too many good relationships have been made could just been torn apart again after that little of time, so the way was laid out for me to go on without having to worry about anything.

In more than 6 weeks not everything can be awesome all the time and especially in the environment of the townships you most certainly will have to face dark days as well. Recognizing that my greatest thanks go out to Chantél, thank you for always being there and providing the needed support: You’re the best any volunteer can wish for!

„How was your trip?“ is the question you get asked frequently after returning back home. But how can you possibly think to be able to answer such a difficult question in just a few words? I guess pushing back the day of my departure again and again already spoke for itself. It is said that actions speak more than words and that is totally true for this situation, even now, weeks later I can’t find the right words to describe how much the good but also the bad experiences I made have changed myself into the person I am today.

To summarize: Do I think I made an positive impact – I most certainly do; has it been enough – yes and no, what I can state is I did put in all my effort (in my power) but of course there is so much more to do, so to people asking me if I would go back the answer is simple, the question you actually should ask is not if, but when. And to everyone struggling with the decision if now is the right time to go on an international volunteer program – I just can say: Take the necessary precautions (get vaccinated, wear a mask and use your brain) to protect yourself and others and go for it, your help is appreciated and needed more than ever before!

Don’t let Covid ruin another good company! Book here and I promise you won’t regret it!

6 – 7 – 8 Wochen Volunteering in der Umgebung Kapstadts (Südafrika) in Zeiten einer globalen Pandemie

Schwer fällt es, zu beschreiben,  was mir die letzten Wochen bedeutet haben. Doch allein schon das immer wiederkehrende Hinauszögern des Endes zeigt, wie tiefgreifend und gut die Erfahrung gewesen sein muss.

Die Frage, was ein Projekt rund um die Townships Südafrikas dir geben kann, ist einfach zu beantworten: Alles hängt einzig und allein von deiner Einstellung ab. Lässt du dich darauf ein, erfährst du Gemeinschaft und Solidarität auf einem den meisten Deutschen völlig unbekannten Level, machst dich bereichernde kulturelle Erfahrungen und wirst Teil von etwas Einfacherem und Schönem. Aber Achtung: lässt du es zu, wirst du durchaus auch mit Dunkelheit und Leid konfrontiert, welches in dieser Art hier glücklicherweise nicht alltäglich ist und einem einiges zur Aufarbeitung abverlangt. Aber auch speziell aus diesen Momenten kann man lernen und neue Wertschätzung erlangen, für das, was einem zuhause als selbstverständlich erscheint.

Auch jetzt, Wochen später, ist die pure Wucht der erfahrenen Emotionen immer noch überwältigend, lässt aber mittlerweile ein mehr als positives Fazit zu. Doch auch schon während des Aufenthaltes ließen einerseits die Erfahrung aus dem Projekt und andererseits die wöchentlich mit Chantél stattfindende Reflektion mich nicht eine Sekunde daran zweifeln, dass die Entscheidung, die Herausforderung eines sozialen Brennpunkts Südafrikas anzunehmen, die richtige war; die persönliche Weiterentwicklung eröffnete mir zudem eine neue Perspektive sowie ein weiteres Lebensziel, welches mir hoffentlich über die kommenden Jahre hinweg weiter Motivation und Antrieb geben wird.

Würde ich es wieder tun? Auf jeden Fall. Würde ich wo anders buchen? Nein, keine der zuvor ausprobierten deutschen Organisationen konnte jemals mit dem hier dargebotenen Service und der persönlichen Nähe mithalten.

Also besser einen lokale Organisation unterstützen und dafür sorgen, dass das Geld auch an der richtigen Stelle ankommt! Viel Spaß!

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