Volunteer with deaf children in South Africa

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Volunteer travel - what's it all about

Are you looking for an adventurous trip with a purpose, or on a gap year or career break? If you want to make a difference in some of the world’s most important conservation areas - and in community projects - then volunteer trips are for you! Volunteers tend to have a sense of adventure, and come from a range of different backgrounds and from all over the world.
Edward Abbey said 'sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul'.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Volunteer with deaf children in South Africa

Environment

Our on the ground staff in South Africa were approached by this wonderful school as they were in need of volunteers. The school receives a grant from the Education department, but it is still underfunded – in order to keep the fees for the students low (and many are so poor they cannot pay so the school must fundraise to provide scholarships to these students), they must have volunteers to help the teachers.

The school was set up more than 50 years ago by Mary, as she noticed a need for deaf children in the neighbourhood to have special teaching . At first the group was very small with just two or three dedicated teachers and a house in the residential area. The present school building was built 40 years ago to accommodate the growing number of children who benefited from this special teaching.

The children from this school have the brilliant opportunity to learn how to cope with their deafness – and are often able to continue their schooling at a mainstream school because they have learnt the basics. A child could easily slip through the cracks in a mainstream school and be considered stupid or lazy because they don’t hear - and the opportunity to become educated passes them by.

The children often grow up in great poverty and so it is incredibly important for volunteers to share their time and energy. Here the children are in a safe environment where they can learn, play, and grow with positive role models and encouragement provided by you, the volunteer. You can assist in any subject that you have knowledge of and have the scope to be as creative as possible; in doing this you’ll be able to actually see the difference that you make – by providing new enthusiasm to the school you’ll encourage the children to learn more and learn at a greater pace!!

Where possible volunteers are encourage to purchase supplies for their placement in the local community rather than in their home country, supporting local business. Also donations of equipment, clothing or money are encouraged and full support is given to assist with this process.

You be living in a local hostel, which provides much needed income and employment to the local population. Travellers has worked with this hostel for many years and it's very friendly. You’ll be actively encouraged to recycle, be efficient with energy and water usage and preserve the surroundings. By taking part on the project you’re bring financial support and learning experiences for the whole community.

SOME OF THE POSITIVE EFFECTS TRAVELLERS HAS ON THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT:

We provide our volunteers with many tips on how to be a responsible traveller regarding the environmental impact they have.

We want you to be immersed in the culture, by living and working with local people. We work with local communities, local charities, local government bodies and local schools. We also often partner with local organisations whom we have vetted to ensure that they are committed to the projects they run, that they have the same responsible attitude to the local community that we do, that they are eco-friendly and have ethical policies.

In our projects and in our headquarters offices, we take an environmentally responsible attitude towards recycling and reusing of waste products. We encourage all participants to offset their flight emissions via a carbon offset scheme. Our volunteers are given pre-departure Information that encourages them to minimise waste and reduce their use of water and electricity, in other words, to live sensitively in the environment that they’re working in.

Travellers also give donations as and when required by projects. This is often done through our charitable arm, The Bridge The Gap Foundation.

Our projects enable vital conservation, research, care and education work to take place directly where it is most needed. For example, 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.

Community

We are passionate about mutually beneficial interaction with the local community. We've been working in Cambodia, and in this local community, for a few years so our interaction with all local institutions and businesses is pretty extensive and continually expanding. They embrace the idea that volunteers can be a direct, positive role-model in the children's everyday lives while they are there.

The children themselves remember the impression you have on them and as they grow, this impression can make all the difference.

Your help here is of enormous benefit to the local community. This is a sustainable, on-going project and your work here contributes to, and helps to continue, the long chain of worthwhile achievements in this community.

Social Responsibility:
The information we provide prepares our volunteers for their placement and how to deal with the local people. It also briefs our volunteers on the Do’s and Don’ts and ensures that they are aware of the possible impact of their behaviour.

Cultural sensitivity:
Volunteers receive an induction and orientation on arrival which covers things like being sensitive to the culture you’re in, everyday processes which will be different to what you’re accustomed to, how to have the maximum beneficial imprint and the minimum negative impact.

We stress the importance of responsible tourism, cultural differences and acceptable/unacceptable conduct. Where appropriate, volunteers are briefed on local customs, particularly those that are different to the volunteer’s accepted norm.

Economic Responsibility
For 25 years our volunteers have lived in local communities, spent their money with local traders and brought funding to the projects they work with. Travellers employs local staff and works with local support staff. This helps to fund the project directly and through bringing money into the local community.

The organisations we work with are often struggle to financially support and maintain the work they do, so every penny raised makes a real difference.
Our aim is to create always a Win-Win-Win situation in terms of the benefits for, (a) the local communities and institutions you work in, (b) our Volunteers, i.e. you, and (c) for Travellers. We do not embark on any project that is not beneficial to all three of these stakeholders.

Before our Volunteers depart on their projects, we provide them with comprehensive information about their project and country:
(1) A detailed Programme Guide to Volunteering which we’ve produced in-house.
(2) A detailed Country Factfile,
(3) A detailed Project Description Booklet specific to their Project.
(4) Safety Book: This book is produced by Travellers and has common-sense but necessary general safety tips while travelling, as well as safety advice relevant to your specific destination country.

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