On my recent trip to which began with some days in the Winelands and Cape Town, I got to do something special: for 2 days, I got to help a local charity – New Kidz on the Block, a local organization that works to create awareness for South Africa’s 3 million orphaned, destitute and vulnerable children with their work, which includes makeovers to daycare centres in the outskirts of Cape Town. It was my first ‘voluntourism’ experience, so to say – and this was organised by Hands Up Holidays, who specialises in this type of activity.
Before our departure to South Africa, and after assessing our skill set – that would mean mine, my sister’s and the two ladies’ (Ashley & Carolyn) from The Lazy Travelers who were travelling with us. We were ‘cleared’ for painting, which got us quite excited.
We had agreed to raise £500 for the charity, but I wanted to see if I could stretch this budget – and I reached out to my readers and want to thank personally everyone who a) trusted me, b) believed in my volunteerism cause and c) made a donation. Through GivenGain, I raised over £2,300, which have now been handed over and spent by New Kidz on the Block.
On our first day, we were picked up at 8am and taken to the Samora Machel township outside Cape Town. Our goal was to makeover 2 Early Childhood Development Centres: Lusanda Educare, which looks after 30 children from a very small room, and Noma’s Day Care, which is a larger facility with capacity for 58 children.
Obviously there was a big cultural shock for us – when we think about the childcare facilities we have available to us, but I was so touched by what we saw. And how despite all the difficulties, there are people wanting to make life easier for the others. If someone can look after the children, then parents can go to work. And if the spaces they occupy can be nicer, then the better. To give you an idea, the money that our group raised was used to buy the materials and cover all costs on both projects – but the donations included toys, clothes, art materials, snacks, sterilisers, nappies, gifts for the staff, etc.
The founders of New Kidz on the Block, Michael and Hilda DeBeer were with us and other volunteers during our two days and meeting them was really quite something – you really have to admire their determination in helping others less fortunate than them. The charity started some years ago with them and some friends helping out ‘on weekends’. Now it can actually offer a proper voluntourism experience via Hands Up.
After a packed lunch, we moved on to Noma’s day care, which was a much larger facility in the same area – but we had more volunteers helping us as there was a lot more work to do. We did everything that we were asked to – namely painting.
We were again led by mural artist Theo, who made the drawings and taught us how to ‘colour them in’. I hadn’t done anything like this for a while – and it was really interesting. From a teamwork perspective, we had to achieve a lot in a short period of time, but the satisfaction coming from the end result was much more important – when we saw Noma and how much she loved the new-look centre, it was very touching. We all got quite emotional, to be honest.
Without a doubt, this was a fantastic experience – and if you are going to South Africa anytime soon, I would urge you to connect with the charity and see if you can help out for a day or two. I can imagine it being a great family activity or if you are travelling with your partner and/or friends.
I was most impressed with the organisation of New Kidz on the Block and how we received an excel detailing how all the money we collectively raised was spent. It is all accounted for and I saw it being used first hand.
I would like to thank Steffen, Debbie, ChinWe, Nars, Rebecca, Molly, Megan, Michelle, Amanpreet, Deborah, Lauren, Veera, Farrah, Nicole, Lisa, Charles, Kim-Marie, Rosa, Ian & Alex, Amie, Chris & Terene, Martin, Karim & Sara, Matt, James, Ruta, Renata, Jorge, Liz, Craig, Rosie, Padraic, Polly, Trudi, Gerrie, Monika, Paola, Andrew, Angelina, Stephanie, Corina, Matthew, Kathleen, Silvia, Jaqueline, Esther, Elyse, Angie, Lucy, Victoria, Andrew, Peter, Chelsie, Nancy, Thomas, Eileen, Heather, Nick, Anisha, Anne, Diana, Sara, Mirjana, Marcus & Kristin, Maria, Justine, Miguel, Marian, Clara, Jen, Keith, Carolyn, Susan, Suzanne, Margarida, Juliet, Marie, Lauren, Stephen, Ana, Damon, Andre, Gerard, Kiera, Rosana, Natércia, Morven, Katie, Duarte, Stephane, Laura, Anna, Lisa, Kathryn, Benedict, Paul, Eliana, Mark, Maria, Richard, Greg, Pandora, Chris, Jane & Calum, and Simon for your donations. £2,300 is a lot of money and I appreciate your support.