My name is Heidi Morales and I volunteered at a care centre in South Africa for two weeks. Visiting South Africa was always a dream of mine and I will forever be grateful to Projects Abroad for this life changing experience. My passion and professional goal is to help children overcome their challenges so they can live a more fruitful life. I knew the childcare programme would be the best fit for me. I would be working directly with the children and assisting the staff with creating programmes that helped enhance their social-emotional development and academic abilities. I went on this trip with an open heart to help those children in need, and I came back filled with compassion and hope!
My Childcare placement
My experience at the care centre was phenomenal. The staff were receptive to our feedback and welcomed any changes we suggested. One of the things we focused on was teaching basic hygiene practices, such as washing hands. The other two volunteers and I created a skit and a song about the importance of washing hands before eating, after using the restroom, and after coming in from playing. Seeing the children laugh, sing, and dance along with us was very rewarding!
Knowing that I would be working in a centre in need of resources, I collected donations from my church, family, and friends. It was humbling seeing the children excited for school supplies and toys. The children were eager to write in their notebooks and read new books. The supplies were helpful when we were teaching new lessons. The principal was constantly expressing her gratitude and she pointed out how happy the children were having us around to play and learn with them.
One of the things that impacted me was how the children are loved and cared for at the centre. The staff do not only promote educational growth, but spiritual growth as well. The children pray before every meal and sing many songs thanking God for everything they have. It was encouraging seeing the children filled with joy while singing those songs. I will never forget all the moments of playing, singing, eating, having small talks, doing arts and crafts, and reading! They will forever stay in my heart and memory!
My host family
My host family was sweet and welcoming. The meals were delicious and there were always snacks and fruits available (which helped for long days at work). It was interesting living with five roommates from all around the world. I was able to learn about different cultures and upbringings. From talking about our day at work to going on unforgettable adventures together, every day was filled with excitement!
I am impressed by the professionalism and support Projects Abroad staff members offer. Being that it was my first time travelling alone overseas, I was nervous and sceptical about booking my flight. The travel team was patient with me and helped me book my flight. This gave me a sense of peace and security. I appreciate the attentiveness staff members provided during my stay in South Africa. They made sure I was safe and satisfied at all times. The transportation staff were very sweet and they made our commute fun!
My free time
Where do I start? The South African landscape has left me breathless! We were surrounded by beautiful mountains and there is so much to do. My roommates and I went on the Garden Route tour, which was unforgettable. We visited the Cango Caves and Map of Africa. We went on a safari, went zip lining, and bungee jumped the highest bungee bridge in the world! Hiking Lion’s Head and visiting the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden was also remarkable!
This trip to South Africa has exceeded my expectations. I have been blown away by the beauty of the country and the people! I will forever be grateful to Projects Abroad for creating such amazing opportunities to give to people in need in exchange for a life changing experience. Thank you!