I have spent many years in different countries under a whole host of different volunteering programs and I wanted to create a blog as a sort of online record of my activities. You have to be a special person to give up your time (and income in many cases) to help others but it is worth it in many different ways. It is great to see how other people live in different countries around the world and without the time I have spent with these programs I doubt I would ever have had the chance to meet and enjoy so many diverse people and cultures.
If you have never tried this before it can be daunting but I made sure I made the most of each and every trip to not only focus on helping others but to build lasting friendships that have a strong foundation. Often the experiences felt bond people together for many years after the actual trip.
Growing up in London meant I had the opportunity to travel almost anywhere in the world as the UK is so interconnected. Nearly every destination in the world is a flight away. I spent some time in the US during my youth and I really do recommend it. The US is so big and there are so many opportunities to help people and get involved in their communities. As the US is an English speaking nation this also makes it a lot easier. I would suggest anyway looking to undertake their first trip consider the US.
Later on I decided to be a little more adventurous and joined up with Habit for Humanity on a trip into Africa. The way people live there is sad when compared to a European lifestyle. There is so much to be done in Africa and there are many different programs running right throughout the year. I so enjoyed my trip in to Africa that I decided to emigrate to South Africa where I work with many different organizations on projects right throughout Sub Saharan Africa. You could never fully explore this vast country and the scenery, animals and different landscapes ensure you always have something new to experience. Traveling in and out of South Africa is quick but expensive which often prohibits the costs of certain projects but many corporate companies here are involved and end up helping the fundraising. The local churches also do their part and often they have trips on the go right throughout the year.
Although this a short into to me I plan to update this blog occasionally with trip reports, pictures and even video for some of the projects we undertake. If you wish to get more information then please use the contact form.
So, this literally marks the a full year in South Africa! I cannot believe where the time went as I feel like I only just arrived! It is amazing that time flies when you are doing some of the things you really enjoy. For me, that is helping others and doing what I can to improve the lives of those less fortunate.
One of the things that has really driven home since I have been in SA is the struggle many go through on a daily basis. We think we have problems in the west, but, we really don’t. Making a difference to a family or seeing the smile on a child’s face makes it all worth while.
You may wondering what I have planned for my future as I really hadn’t thought I would still be over here almost a year on. There are so many projects here to work on and all of them have such merit that it is a hard decision to leave and go back home. I think I will see the year out and then assess early on next year as to my future plans – but don’t be surprised if I decide to remain here for a lot longer!
I would also urge anyone who is thinking of getting some experience out in the world helping others to consider Africa. I know that you may have heard about the dangers, and they are real, but it is well worthwhile and on top of the help you can also have a blast as this is such a beautiful and diverse place.
I will post more about the work I have been doing and some of the current opportunities soon so you can get more of a picture of the place and whether it may be for you or not.
I know it has been quite some time since I last managed to find the time to post. I am not sure where the time goes as the months seem to race around so fast. We are now well into 2015 and I have never been so busy in my life. I am still based in SA right now and I might just end up staying here for the remainder of the year. Africa presents so many challenges and there are so many people suffering that the work is consistent and ongoing. I think it is the joy that is brought to peoples faces that make this whole thing worthwhile as even something as simple as a tap with running water can mean the world to these people.
The weather here is also outstanding which allows me to pursue my interests which I have mentioned before throughout the blog, having decent weather right throughout the whole year makes such a huge difference if you enjoy spending time outside like I do. As with anywhere in the world though, there are some negatives. Crime is no joke around here and you have to be super careful to ensure you keep safe. This is my biggest concern right now and if I ever leave here earlier than planned it would likely be due to safety concerns. That would be a real shame though as I feel I am making such a big contribution here.
One of the products that is fairly cheap in this part of the world is meat and I think I may have been eating just a little bit too much 🙂 I have decided, as from last week, to try and live a healthy lifestyle when it comes to food. My volunteering keeps me fairly fit but I do eat a lot of junk food etc. I even went as far to buy myself a decent juicing machine that can literally mash up anything. This is a great way to improve your health as you can mix up fruits in the morning, vegetables in the evening etc and with an unlimited amount of combinations you will never get bored. You can check out these commercial juicer reviews to find out more – I would recommend every household consider one of these! I think we all take our health for granted sometimes so making a little bit of an effort can make all the difference.
I wanted to mention that I do get a fair amount of enquirers from others into my activates here as there are a lot of people that may just want to help out in similar ways to me. I personally think it is like a calling in life to help others and it takes a lot of dedication and heart to keep at it. I often come across sick people, young and old and takes some time to realize you just cannot help everyone. That’s the sad part, I think I would help them all if I possibly could! If you think you might want to learn more then use the contact form to get hold of me and I would be happy to give you more information or talk further on Skype etc. I am sometimes out of communications range but I will get back to you – eventually!
I keep promising some pictures, I know and I have not forgotten. Check back soon and I will do my best to get those up!
I really cannot believe how quickly this year has passed and I still find myself in Southern Africa – there is something about this part of the world that gets into your blood. Once you have been here for a while it becomes a part of you and the feeling is to stay. I had hoped, as mentioned before, to find my way back to the states for the Summer but there is just so much work that can be done in Africa I could probably remain here for the rest of my days!
I have also met some amazing people here over the past year, if fact it always amazes me at how many dedicated people there are out there that are willing to donate their time to help others. I met one chap recently who not only does a tremendous amount of charity work but he likes to sit and smoke some of the green stuff. Morally, whether this is right or wrong is not really the point here but he has a mini grow lab in the basement that produces the stuff out of sight! He has a special stand for the plants that incorporates power (for heat), lighting and also water. You can see it here if you want to learn more. He really is a colorful character and I always have a good laugh when we are working together. Having someone close to share things with makes the job much easier and the time flies past even quicker!
September and October was spent in a small village in the Western Cape called Worster. It is very close to Cape Town and has many people struggling to get through the day. My focus here was underprivileged children who are neglected with education and basic food and supplies. It is so sad to see so many and there is only so much we can do with the resources we have been given via this particular charity. Just to mention, that you may see that I do not often mention the names of charities etc – that is because this is my personal blog and I would prefer to keep that information to myself for various reasons. I must say we have been lucky this year compared with previous years as we have had some really great corporate sponsors that have enabled us to ramp up our efforts and help so many more kids.
I plan to stay here till the end of November then I think I will head home for the holidays. As much as I love this part of the world I also miss home and it will be good to take a little bit of time off and see some friends and family. I know I promised to post some pictures in the last post, yet again I have been so busy I have been struggling to find the time but I will do my best to post some during the course of next month when I get a chance to sit down again.
It has been awhile since I managed to update here and that is mainly because I have been so busy I have been struggling to find the time. When I look back over the past few months it is amazing how much I have accomplished and packed into each and every day. Although, I thought I would have been able to move on by now – was hoping to get back to the US for the Summer – I find myself stuck in South Africa as there is so many projects to work on and it really is a beautiful country.
In June I was offered a six month position with a local charity organization which focuses on children, especially those with serious and life threatening diseases. The time is spent in the communities helping out where we can with small jobs such as running mini water pipelines from the rivers into the local towns. This sounds fairly simple but normally involves many logistical nightmares and the money required to buy the materials. I must say it gives me a sense of pride to see how happy the people are when they finally have running water close by. Normally, small containers are needed with a long trek to the river and a return struggle with the heavy water containers. The children especially benefit as they have water close by and it makes a huge impact on hygiene and health.
We also spent some time working at a local school and installed a couple of new computer desks, you can see the model over here that we ended up choosing. You really cannot believe what these people have been working with up to now – it is a miracle anyone could learn anything working with the junk that many of the schools have. We also painted the office and managed to get a little bit of help from a local electrician to sort out the wiring and install a few new plug points. A bit of paint, some new furniture and it now looks like a proper office. I did take some pictures, on my phone, but I do not have them with me right now – I will try and post them in the next few days.
Our small organization has been trying to get a local doctor to do some pro-bono work in the area but we have come up empty with our attempts to get the right person in. If you know of any doctors who fancy a couple of weeks working with us then please use the contact form to send through the details. We would cover the travel expenses but the time would be from the heart. There are so many people that need help it is quite scary and it is sad that the government does not try and do more. It’s really the same right through Africa though, governments worry about governments and the people must sort out themselves!
Other than that I have been busy working on my golf swing as per usual and even though it is winter and gets fairly cool at night the sun shines every day allowing me to play right through the year!
Finding myself in South Africa again is not completely unplanned as I have spent so much time in this part of the world and to be honest I do not think I could ever get tired of it! This has to be one of the most amazing countries in the world where you can always find something amazing to see. The place does have it’s problems and like many other destinations you have to be a little bit careful of where you go, especially during the night. Even with all of the problems it is still full of amazing people and when it comes to volunteering there is enough work to keep you busy for a lifetime!
This time I have teamed up with a small local church which has being trying to get water pipes into a local village. This sounds so basic and for many of you that live in the Western world will be a shock! Something so simple as running water should be available to everyone – without it life can be very hard. I have been working with a small excavator trying to lay some simple pipes from a nearby river through to the center of the village. This sounds simple but it is quite challenging as part of the way is via a small incline which prohibits the simple water flow. Luckily, the local church has donated a small pump which gets over this hurdle and should enable us to be successful with the project. Most of the local people have been happy to help as they have spent most of their lives carting buckets of water from the river to their homes.
When I am not busy with the project I have been getting in some golf. This country has plenty of championship rated courses that are awesome to play. Coupled with the decent weather throughout the year SA is a golfers paradise. I have also been working with a golfer from the club on their indoor golf simulator which has made a steep difference to my game. I try to get in a couple of hours practice every few days (I really don’t have the time to play a full round) and I can already see a marked difference in my ball skills!
Once this project is completed I will be heading to Cape Town for a small holiday and having a couple of meetings with a large corporate that might just be interested in sponsoring a couple of projects I have in mind. I can’t say more right now but if all goes well then I shall probably remain here for most of the year. I will update soon and give a little bit more information on my plans.