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Volunteers' Stories


katya-loftus stephen-sherring          


Teaching in a Rural eMakhosini Village in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

We both developed as people which sounds cheesy but really is true. We were accepted in the close knit village, most people had never interacted with a white person before let alone 2 English people, this acceptance boosted our confidence so much and opened our eyes to a different culture and a different way of life and has changed our perspective on life forever.

The children were definitely the best part of our placement. Every single child was totally different and each and every one was special in their own way. If ever we had a day where we felt low or homesick they would have a smile or a hug for you that would just get rid of every worry we had (not that there were many in such a beautiful place!) I would definitely recommend this placement to others. It is a life changing experience!!!!

I think this project would suit most people, however we would recommend that 2 or more people went together [or were placed together] as the lack of amenities/ access to communication would be difficult for a solo traveller. Although we were made aware of how remote it was we didn’t realise how remote it was. It didn’t particularly affect us as we were integrated into the community, but it should definitely be emphasised to any interested volunteers that there is absolutely nothing to do or nowhere to go in the evening, and arriving without knowing this may be a shock and off putting to volunteers.

Please can you describe a typical day?

We would wake up around 6.30. At this time the sun was already out to great us. School started at 7.30 and so we would either get a lift or walk to school for this time. The day started off with prayers with the other teachers and then we went outside for a daily assembly, the children would pray and sing and also read news. After assembly it was lesson 1 and 2, at this time we would either teach the children sports, English or computers, depending on what grade we had and what day it was.

At 11 o clock it was 1st break - but this is when we had our lunch we all the other teachers which usually consisted of sandwiches and crisps, this break lasted for half an hour so we would spend 15 minutes with the teachers and fifteen minutes playing in the playground - this could be playing chase, football, netball or elastics but most of the time it involved the children practicing their English - mainly the younger ones who find asking "how are you" the funniest thing ever! After break would be lesson 3 which again was a range of subjects, then at 1pm there would be another break of 15 minutes, and lesson 4 started at 1.45.

The day ends between 2 and 2.30 depending on what day of the week it is! After school we would often walk home as it was a time to interact with the children more personally - the 10 minute walk often took about 1 hour. We got home and would get something to eat and then we would head back into the village.

The children often knocked on our door and asked us to play with them - at one point there was about 50 children asking to play catch - it was a bit chaotic but definitely worth it! It usually went dark at 6 but was pitch black by half past - with there being no street lights it was difficult to be out later than this so we went back to the ranch. In got boring in the evening as there was no entertainment so we would talk with December, read, plan lessons and then usually go to bed early - its amazing how tired you can be - ready for the next day of fun!

Although English is of a poor standard in the village - communication with the children and villagers is easy as everybody is interested in you - its amazing how their English and our Zulu developed during our time there. The teachers at this school made us feel so welcome from the moment we arrived to the moment we left and we felt part of the team straight away.

The one person we have to thank is Fikele the head teacher - she helped and guided us every step of the way and we never felt like a stranger in her company - she was a friend from day one and we are still in contact with her now. She and the children made the placement like a dream for us and that is something we will never forgive- we see eMakhosini as a second home and we hope that they think of us as honorary members of their community. Our placement in eMakhosini is one that will live in our hearts forever!

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