So you’re thinking about volunteering in South Africa, but you still have a few questions. You may be wondering what your work at Bobbi Bear will be like, how safe South Africa is, or if you will have time to explore outside of volunteering. While we’re happy to answer these questions or any others you may have, it’s sometimes best to hear from someone who’s been there themselves. So here’s what our volunteer had to say about her time at Bobbi Bear. This volunteer is a recently graduated criminology student who is now furthering her education, studying business management and international law. She spent six weeks volunteering at Bobbi Bear during the summer of 2016 and wanted to share her own experience with potential volunteers.
“Bobbi Bear was a great experience for me and getting to practice what I’m studying, so going to court was great for me. Also, doing the therapy sessions, even when we went with Meredith to just watch her give the therapy sessions was a big thing for me. When we arrived from the airport, there was immediately a case where we had to take a child into the house with us from the first night on. She stayed with us for four weeks, and then we gave her back to her parents because they managed to get a home and take care of themselves. Just that moment really stood out to me because of the appreciation from the parents and the little girl. She wasn’t that easy to handle but then she really appreciated us for taking care of her.
We also went to the tree every week. That was also a great experience because you get to see the direct reactions of the children you help. You see that they’re happy you’re playing with them, that you’re making time to be with them, and that’s just from you being there. On Friday’s we worked with elderly women and it’s the same with them. At Bobbi Bear, we mostly handle children’s cases but there are chances to help elderly people as well.
We took some time off while we were there. We went on a safari trip. We also did some with the staff of Bobbi Bear. They really wanted us to do that and they’re really open to it. We went to some of their homes and got to see how they really lived. Jackie’s husband even guided us on our safari trip.
I felt safe in South Africa because they gave really good information. Eureka told us that if we go anywhere at night, we could call an officer and they would always take us everywhere we wanted to go at night. I think the second day we were there, we took a tour of Durban with an officer and he told us the safe neighborhoods and the less safe neighborhoods, so then we knew when we went by ourselves a week later, we knew where we could and could not go. They really took care of us, and that’s why I really felt safe.
I also made good friends on the trip. We meet two or three times a year and stay at one of our houses for a weekend or something, since I’m in Belgium and they’re in Holland. It was six really intense weeks, so we really bonded and became friends.
My advice would be to go in with an open mind. I went with a really open mind which I think is really important, because there was one other girl who was there with me who had frustrations over not having something to do some days. But I was more open minded and that helped me be more open to doing smaller things. I think it’s difficult to say to new people to be open minded, but for me it really helped.”
If you have any other questions about South Africa or any of our other volunteer programmes, feel free to contact us at any time!
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