Claudia Jarufe Montagne - 2014 Program Participant
Teaching children in Cape Town South Africa.
What made you want to apply for an international volunteer program?
I love traveling. It’s more than a hobby, I could already consider it an addiction. When I travel I like to try different experiences and try to immerse myself in the culture of the places I go. I have always wanted to travel to Africa, and what better way to get to know the real Africa than by doing volunteer work? Where I come from (Peru) there are plenty of projects I can help with and have helped with before, so I got asked the same question over and over again: "If you want to do volunteer work, why not do it here?". This time I wanted to combine my addiction to travel while volunteering to help on some projects.
Why did you choose African Impact above all the other volunteer programs out there?
After a lot of evaluation of the different organizations, I found that African impact was the one that fulfilled my necessities. I couldn't stay for too long in the program because of budget and time restrictions, but I wanted to still have an impact on the community and get to travel a bit. African Impact offered me a great range of possibilities when it came to the duration of projects, types of projects, and budgets. They also helped the volunteers organise some weekend activities and travels within Cape Town. I found the perfect combination and I'm sure there is one for everyone.
What makes Cape Town a great destination?
Cape Town is an amazing City. There is a lot of contrast in the city from every point of view, from the activities to the way people live. It is an exciting place where there is a great range of things to do. There is something for everyone - from wine tasting, visiting museums, and shopping to climbing Table Mountain, shark cage diving, and paragliding.
What makes African Impact a unique program?
Even if the volunteering project (vulnerable care) was similar to the projects back home, the environment was totally different. The projects are really well organised and the coordinators make sure that every volunteer gets to make an impact in the community. There is always something you can help with. Also the fact you get to live in the same house with people that have similar views of life and that are searching for the same experience was definitely a plus.
What is the local staff support like in Cape Town?
The staff is great. From the first contact to even today they are always attentive and trying to make your journey as easy and smooth as it can be.
Looking back, what’s one thing you wish you could’ve done differently?
I wish I could have stayed longer. I definitely feel that I made an impact on the community and they made an impact on me. But I was not ready to leave when the time came. I don't think I would have ever been ready though.
What was a typical day like with African Impact in Cape Town?
We would wake up at around 7 a.m., hop in the shower, and have breakfast while enjoying the company of other volunteers. Then we would make sure we had all the necessary things (toys, papers, crayons, etc.) for the activities planned for the first project. At 8 a.m. we would head to the morning projects, in my case it was Fikelela, which is a temporary home away from home. As soon as we got there the children would come to say hi to us (they were always excited and happy to see us and that just puts a smile on anyones face :)) and we would help the Mamas feed them breakfast.
Then we would divide into two groups. The first would go with the young children (four months old to three years old) and concentrate on activities that help develop their motor skills. The second group would go with the "older" children (four years old to eight years old) and would concentrate on activities that would help them at school, such as counting, writing, painting, dancing, etc. At around noon we would head back to the house and have lunch there, make sure we had all the necessary things for the afternoon project, and at around 2 p.m. we would go to GAPA. GAPA stands for "Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids." They offer a safe place where children can go and spend time after school. Here we supervised and joined the children while they played and learned at will.
What was your favorite thing to do in your free time?
I loved exploring the city on the weekends. There were too many things to do. I will have to go back to do them all :)
How were your accommodations in Cape Town?
Usually everyone stays in the same house, but as I went when there were a lot of volunteers, me and five other volunteers had to stay at a hostel in front of the house. we all shared a six bed bedroom and the people at the hostel were really nice, everything was clean and safe. Everything was paid for and organised by African Impact. We would only sleep and shower there and the rest of the time we ate, planned the activities, and hung out in the house.
How has volunteering in South Africa influenced you since returning home?
I definitely try to see the brighter side of things and always be thankful. Seeing those children so genuinely happy and grateful with so little makes your problems seem like a joke. They always have a reason to smile and we should to.