VOLUNTEER DIARY | Wendy’s Memories
Could you tell volunteerinvest.org a bit about your volunteer abroad experience in South Africa?
I’m honoured to tell you something about my experience at Bobbi Bear because it’s an amazing project and I had the time of my life there.
These are the memories I took home with me. The memories that stayed with me and still do.
Bobbi Bear is a project that protects the community, especially the children. The staff at Bobbi Bear do a lot more than just this. What made Bobbi Bear so special to the community is the heart of the staff. Every staff member I met loved his/her job and put all their effort in helping the children and they do it with so much joy and energy.
At one of our first days at Bobbi Bear we went to a protest because they were discussing giving a woman who killed her granddaughter bail. A number of staff members went with us. It was overwhelming what we saw, the men and women singing together. I took a lot of pictures that day, mostly of the faces of the people I saw. In their faces you could read the love and see the fight for that little girl who got killed. It impressed me a lot and I knew these men and women would do everything for their community. Not just for themselves but the whole community.
My time at Bobbi Bear was a valuable time for me as a person as well.
I saw how hard life can be but equally how much you can still enjoy it. The people there have a lot less then us but they sing, they dance and they go on. People back here can complain about every little thing, but in Africa there are bigger problems but they still go on and give everything to every child and to the whole community.
A lot of people are stressed and have to keep going on because they need to do everything. Since I got back from Africa I stopped wearing my watch. The people in Africa have a totally different way of working and you know what, it was very relaxing. People might not see it when they look at me, but I feel different.
And Makayla, dear sweet Makayla. We were privileged to take care of her during our time at Bobbi Bear. Makayla is a hand full of work because she just loves the attention. She loves to sing and she is very smart. Because of her muscle disease you have to help her with a lot of stuff but she makes life so beautiful in just the little things. One of my best memories was when we woke up and Makayla ask us to come lie with her. She puts her arms around your neck and just hugs you. That moment is very special and it’s amazing Makayla lets you share this with her.
Back at home when I tell people I worked with sexually abused children the first reaction I get is “Isn’t that very heavy”. But I never experienced it as heavy.
One time we got a little girl, only five years old, who was raped. Her injuries were so heavy she had to stay at the hospital for a week. After that week she came to Bobbi Bear and stayed with the volunteers. The first day was difficult because the little girl only spoke Zulu and we spoke English and Dutch. The girl was shy and withdrawn. During that we week we went to the mall with her but we didn’t knew if she had to go to the toilet so we had to be inventive and we asked a lady we saw to translate and the same way when we went to the restaurant to eat something.
During that week with us the little girl got more and more open and vivid. She would run through the house and come and hug us. At the end of that week we went to uShaka, a big theme park in Durban. The little girl enjoyed herself so much it was beautiful to see and I will always remember her face when she saw all the animals.
We had to take good care of her when we went swimming because she couldn’t swim but because of her enthusiasm she kept falling down and we had to pull her up otherwise she would have drowned a dozen times.
I saw a lot of challenging things but these little things I have mentioned are so much more important and much more long lasting. This is what I will always hold on to.
I made friends for life at Bobbi Bear because you share an important moment of your life together. We still meet every once in a while and it feels like home when I see them again. My time at Bobbi Bear felt like home.
A special thank you to Eureka and her family. They let us in to their lives and I don’t think they even understand how important they where for me. Just the little talks and laughs in her offices, the hugs and the sharing of our stories. She is a woman I look up to, a woman with so much love to give and who will always be there for the ones who need it.
My English might not be perfect but I think you get what I wanted to say. My time there was just amazing and I can’t thank Eureka and the rest of Bobbi Bear enough.
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