A Child Welfare and Development Project
Content in her job Kim became inspired to do all she could for vulnerable children of the world after seeing the film ‘Machine Gun Preacher’. She discovered the Operation Bobbi Bear project when a relative encouraged her to visit a charity that helps young professionals maximise the impact of their charitable giving, thereby changing the lives of vulnerable people all over the world.
Family members were puzzled. Why opt for Bobbi Bear, a charity some 6000 miles away in South Africa, when there were volunteering needs in her own country? Kim would not be swayed. “In Holland and the U.K., the problem of vulnerable children is less, and the opportunity to reach out for help is so much greater. In South Africa there is a dire shortage of support agencies, resulting in a crisis. I knew I had to go.”
Kim was accepted onto the Bobbi Bear volunteer programme for a six-week period. She quickly realised this was no holiday, and urges others who volunteer to roll up their sleeves and commit themselves wholly with the appropriate attitude. “This is hard work. It’s unbelievably rewarding, but also emotionally tough. You have to be prepared.” The aim is to give back, making a positive social impact on the future.
What appealed to Kim is ‘Bobbi Bear is not only a crisis centre for children. Any child, any woman, any person of whatever age, suffering any form of abuse or illness whatsoever, is welcome to approach. The experience is inspirational, spread wide across elements of township communities, into homes, hospitals and police stations to name a few’.
Kim’s own experiences were far-reaching within the project. She nursed a fifty year old woman ravaged by breast and brain cancer, and cared for the children of a jailed drug lord, witnessing the aftermath of the visual abuse they had suffered. She cared for a toddler who had been beaten and drugged, observing him closely while he recovered normal sleep patterns, became lively again and started to smile and laugh.
“Working for Bobbi Bear is life-changing, I will never be the same again.”
Apart from funding, and finding suitable volunteers, after hours’ childcare is one of the biggest problems facing Bobbi Bear. Kim discovered, while visiting locals’ houses, that many of them are already caring for an extended brood. When Bobbi Bear workers go off duty at the end of the day, placing extra children poses a real difficulty. Frequently, staff end up having to take children home due to lack of volunteers. Given that one of the charity’s main aims is to house, home and protect the most vulnerable, this is an issue needing urgent attention.
“There’s another world out there,” Kim says. “There’s another side. It’s not a job, it’s more a way of life. When I returned home after my first six weeks at Bobbi Bear, I found it very difficult to readjust to normal life as I knew it. That’s why I had to go back. There’s no place I’d rather be. Bobbi Bear is in my heart.”
Interested in sustainable, ethical volunteering in the area of Child Welfare/Development in South Africa? Speak to our team.