Sustainable and ongoing development of local communities is always the primary aim of our volunteer projects and this project is no different. You’ll take up where others left off and you’ll be involved in the continued personal development of these vulnerable members of the community.
This project has been running since 1954 to provide free care for needy members of the community. Everyone can receive free counselling at this centre. The staff are trained counsellors and the participants are given the opportunity to deal with their issues and regain the confidence to move on with their lives. You will play a vital part in helping these vulnerable people develop new confidence following whichever traumatic experience they have been through.
Volunteers are needed to assist the counsellors and to provide extra care and support for the people helped at the centre. Most of the people needing counselling come from poverty and are in emotional crisis. By sharing your time and energy and showing them that people care you can play a very positive role in the future of the individuals and the centre.
Volunteers are given cultural advice before and on arrival, affording you an understanding of South African culture which will guide your interactions with local people and improve cultural awareness.
Your actions can positively and directly influence the local economy, society and culture, whilst allowing you the opportunity to have close interactions with local people. By shopping at markets and seeking locally produced goods and services your presence will have a positive impact on the local economy.
You will be living in the volunteer house that we have in Knysna. The house is simple and you’ll be actively encourage to recycle, be efficient with energy and water usage and preserve the surroundings. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the project and gain a great understanding of the culture and lives on these women. The money that you pay us will go directly to the projects to pay the wages of staff members and for the food you will eat. All of your food is prepared for you and sourced locally, thus directly assisting local businesses. By taking part on the project you’re bring financial support and learning experiences for the whole community.
The biggest difference you can make is direct to the vulnerable people on this project is though love and attention. You will gain incredible insight into the community and make many friends through close up personal contact with the local people and culture.
Having regard for the local community by being consciously aware of your impact is encouraged in all our documentation for all our projects in all our destination countries. This is because we feel very strongly that many countries are subject to, for example, water shortages, high cost of energy and high impact of energy usage, the negative impact of litter and general pollution. Thus we encourage our volunteers to be aware of these possible impacts so that they contribute positively and not negatively to the community in this respect.
You taking part in this project enables us to continue to donate financial assistance as well as necessary goods, where it is needed around the world. Examples of donations include building new classrooms, providing school uniforms for poorer students, buying computers, sports equipment, playgrounds, toys, mattresses, classroom equipment and funding school trips and the building of libraries, and more. We also donate significantly to conservation research efforts and the purchasing of necessary conservation equipment. In the past, these donations have been made in all continents and in projects where we work, and some where we do not work.
Recent donations made include
- Donation made of approximately £300 to a school in Ghana to support the purchase of new equipment for a new classroom, funding to build new signs to advertise the school and money to purchase school books.
- Ongoing monthly donations made to orphanage in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and every year additional money given at Christmas to buy presents for children.
- Approximately £1,500 towards the building of a desperately needed classroom in a Zulu school in eMakhosini, South Africa.
- £1,500 to build a roof at the Grace Kennet Foundation Orphanage in Madurai, India. This was a donation made to match the fundraising efforts of an ex volunteer. A tree had fallen through the roof of the orphanage during a storm, and so a large part of the building was un-usable and dangerous.
- Approximately £880 to Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Malaysia to help publicise the centre and draw funds to care for injured and abandoned Orang Utans.
We employ an all local staff force in most of our destination countries, which benefits the local economy. These range from skilled country managers, who are often pillars of their community, to local labourers and craftspeople. We believe in paying our overseas staff fairly, and many are rewarded with higher than average wages for local standards. When required, we send local staff on training courses to widen their skills. For example, a member of staff in South Africa recently attended an ‘eco-school’. Here, she was trained in eco teaching methods, which she will take to the schools around her region of South Africa to encourage eco-friendly farming methods.
We are committed to upholding strict ethical standards that ensure a positive and lasting impact upon the environments, communities, institutions, volunteers, animals, children and people that we work with. For example:
- We encourage our volunteers to make the most of local opportunities available to them, such as shopping at local markets, eating in local restaurants and using local services and transport.
- We encourage volunteers to pay fairly for goods and services. We believe that over payment for goods and services or payment to beggars can have negative consequences and result in the over-reliance of tourism within the local community.
- We strongly advise against purchasing wildlife souvenirs or anything which may perpetuate the death or cruel treatment of animals for the purpose of profit.
- We advise on dress codes and codes of behaviour in all of our destination countries to ensure volunteers don’t cause offence to local communities.
Our aim is to create always a win-win-win situation in terms of the benefits for the local communities and institutions that we work in, for us and for the volunteer. We do not embark on any project that is not beneficial to the communities, institutes or volunteers. We conduct regular volunteer satisfaction surveys to monitor our performance.
We are also an incredibly environmentally aware company – we recycle in our offices and carbon offset when we need to send staff to our destinations. Although individually these are small actions, we believe it’s the first step to preserving the planet for future generations.
Our projects enable vital conservation, research, care and education work to take place directly where it is most needed. For example, the schools where we teach English very often have no other English teachers, and so they rely on us for continued lessons. We kept a Species Survival Conservation project in South Africa afloat until completion after it was threatened by lack of funds. Our volunteers contribute, all over the world, to projects that would not exist without them.
When I was a little girl I had to pass an orphanage on my way to school. I always noticed the big girls wore dresses too small and the small ones drowned in clothes that were too big. I thought then that if I ever won the lottery, I’d start an orphanage where the children would each have someone to love them and take the time to make sure that (amongst other things) their clothes fitted their size! I never did win the lottery, but I was fortunate enough to marry a man who happily took the risk with me of starting our company sending volunteers to work with disadvantaged children and animals. I never did start an orphanage … but now we help support lots of orphanages … and animals sanctuaries … and poor schools and street kids clinics by sending them volunteers and with donations. Life works strangely, but in my case, very satisfying. I love my work!!
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