Saiaiswarya Nagendra - Human Rights in South Africa
I came to South Africa with the ambition to help as many people as I possibly could. A famous quotation that signifies this is ‘Help Ever Hurt Never’ and I tried my best to stick to this principle throughout my entire trip. At first I was terrified at the thought of being away from home for 2 weeks and for the first time away from my family. However, I soon learned that this would be an experience like no other, filled with love and meeting people who carried so much inspiration.
My Host family
When I was introduced to my host mum Faye Alkana and dad Aslam I felt so happy to meet such jubilant and cheerful people. After a long flight I was so jet lagged that I poured orange juice into the cereal bowl which made the others laugh! As we proceeded through the day more people from around the world such as America, Japan and France made their way to the house.
Probably one of the most memorable moments was our first dinner together with the smell of my host mother’s delicious cooking that catered to all our needs. In the morning, we were treated to waffles and eggs on toast in preparation for the busy day ahead of us.
My Human Rights placement
The next day after we had arrived, we set off on our journey to the work placement. My days started at the Human Rights office at 9am, where I and the other volunteers studied cases on crime, health and education in South Africa.
The 2 Week Special volunteers put on a presentation to express how they found their two weeks and what they had learnt. After looking at the topics of crime, health and education, it helped us work towards gathering information for our presentation at the end of the two weeks.
To make the experience as worthwhile as possible, we got involved in trips such as visiting primary schools in disadvantaged areas. The volunteers had the chance to work with a pastor in a township, assisting him with his work in the community. We also helped out at a soup kitchen there and met many special children through doing this. We were given several opportunities to make a difference by going to the soup kitchens in Vryground.
We were also given the privilege of spending some time with the children from a primary school in the township. I know that I haven’t changed the world, but bringing a smile to a child’s face has been a method of bringing a change in the world.
One of Cape Town’s most famous land marks, Robben Island, became one of my most treasured memories of my volunteering experience. I will never forget the feeling of visiting the prison cell that Mandela was in.
During my time in Cape Town, I learned many things about the challenges that South Africa faces; but this experience has also helped me. I feel that I have become stronger and more independent as an individual. I feel more grateful for the things I have in life after seeing the troubles that other people face. I will never forget the amazing people that I met along the way. The individuals that I came across and the culture of Cape Town made my experience what it was. My host family made me feel at home straight away. I love the smells, the food and the brilliant characters I have encountered during my visit.
The work experience that I have gained at the Projects Abroad Human Rights Office has given me a clear insight into the career path that I have chosen. I am now certain that I will put as much dedication as possible into becoming a successful lawyer. I hope great stories like these inspire others to help Projects Abroad continue to make a difference, and by doing so, learn something themselves along the way.