National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

 Volunteering: YFC Travel to South Africa

Taking part in a volunteering trip with YFC Travel can mean you’re helping rural communities in other parts of the world. Laura Gascoyne from Oxfordshire shares her experience of volunteering in South Africa through YFC Travel and Projects Abroad

My favourite moment from the whole trip was when a lady whose garden we were building said to me she would call it ‘Angel’ because “you girls are my angels for coming to do it for me."

We dug a total of six vegetable patches for the community in our two days in Nyanga working with Etafeni, an organisation that teaches gardening to help communities grow their own vegetables and ensure they have food to eat. They aim to build 200 gardens a year and they only had 18 left to build after we finished working with them this summer.

It was humbling to work in the township where our work was very much appreciated.

The children in the township all wanted to help us with the gardens; a lot of them didn’t go to school and didn’t have any shoes to wear. We took some skipping ropes and bubbles with us for them and it was like Christmas!

Our first project was in a township called Vryground. We were introduced to Capricorn Primary School and the Sozo Foundation. Sozo have an afternoon school where children can get help with school work and there’s a café and hair salon where people can get training to make them more employable. We met one person who had been in a gang since he was 14 years old and had been in prison many times. He had given up his life of crime and with help from Sozo he is now a trained barista and helps other young adults improve their lives.

It was Women’s Day while we were in South Africa and this is a big celebration in the country and is held on a bank holiday. We helped set up a lunch event for 400 women from the Vryground community. They were given magazines, some toiletries and snack food and listened to inspirational women speakers who had changed their lives after being caught up in crime, gangs and domestic abuse.

We helped the police hand out leaflets about domestic abuse and it was upsetting to see women literally snatching them out of our hands because so many of them suffer in silence.
We visited a township near Hout Bay called Imizamo Yethu, where a forest fire had wiped out a lot of homes last year. Many of the townships can be dangerous but we were able to explore this one and discovered people making businesses in their homes, such as salons and shops. Customers had to try clothes on at the side of the road and we saw lots of pop-up stalls selling home-grown produce.

We visited Ikhaya le Themba, which was set up in 2004 to help vulnerable children, and helped build two vegetable patches and planted six potato boxes. This place was set up to give children a safe place, to get help with schoolwork and to have a hot meal. After planting the vegetables, we painted the plant boxes, cooked hot dogs for the children and played games with them. We had taken some donated sports bibs and footballs with us.

Our final community activity was Prince and Princess Educare, a nursery set up in someone’s house in the township. The children had one room to play in and there was a kitchen that had a gas bottle with a saucepan on top! We had to chop vegetables on the saucepan lids whilst children slept next to us. I took some more bubbles that day and spent about an hour blowing them, the children loved chasing and catching them. It was upsetting to see the conditions they have to live in but the Educare centre is brilliant and gives parents the opportunity to work and get some money to provide for their families.

In the evenings and on the weekends we did different activities such as drumming, a surfing lesson, horse riding on the beach and a safari drive. Our host family was very accommodating, making us all feel welcome and comfortable.

South Africa is an incredible, beautiful country that taught me a lot within a short space of time. I would definitely recommend visiting and for anyone that gets an opportunity to take part in a volunteering trip, definitely take it up!

Why not apply to take part in a YFC Travel Volunteering trip with Projects Abroad in 2019. You could be supporting communities in Costa Rica or Sri Lanka.

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