Ayesha volunteered at the youth development placement in Knysna
When I arrived in South Africa I had no idea what to expect but still managed to keep an open mind of what I would be dealing with. My project was to work with children in a youth centre located in the township. The first time I saw the township I wasn’t as emotional as I thought I would be probably because I already had a vision. I think the cultural shock kicked in when I heard the stories of the lives of the children were forced to live. It is hard to believe the struggle children as young as 5 go through every single day. At first, when meeting the children I was a little worried if they would accept me or because to them I was a stranger. The language barrier was also a little difficult to deal with in the beginning, which is why I didn’t hesitate to learn very basic phrases in Afrikaans. I have learnt to accomplish anything, you must give it time. Yes, I did come out here as a volunteer but in return the whole experience here has helped me to understand many things. I suppose the number one lesson I have learnt is that back home, many people take things for granted and are always complaining. There is always something people want but don’t actually need. Later on in the project I decided to assist with the pre-school. I will never forget that decision. It was hard work teaching a class of 20 energetic 5 year olds, but so worth it. I suggest that volunteers should take every opportunity they can get. You obviously decide to volunteer for a reason so make the most of it. These children have such interesting characters once you get to know them. Just don’t always judge on what you see, understand their story and that might make things clearer.