Our charity is a challenging place that changes lives of the children that it helps and changes lives of the volunteers who help them.
From September to April it is warm enough to swim in the large garden at 2000 metres above sea level, but Johannesburg is sunny almost the entire year (though cold at night in June July and August).
The charity helps the most badly-burned children to access reconstructive surgery in southern and central Africa, sometimes in Kenya or Tunisia, sometimes in Europe including the UK, and even in North America. Every child is unique and comes with unique issues. They are from poor homes; some are even from war zones. So the psychological input is as important as the surgery , because the children have to learn to cope with a society that shuns people who are disabled or disfigured. For 24 years we have been repairing children and they have gone on to excel in such diverse fields as sport (gold medal for running, Paralympics 2012; representing SouthAfrica internationally in table tennis), microbiology, public health, engineering, law, baking, plumbing, singing, gardening, TV presenting, social work and more. Every step of the road had been hard but the happiness of the children and their successes, make it all worthwhile.
We live on two sites with two dogs and teach children at a primary school, help the ones in high school and prepare others for tertiary or vocational education. Hospital visits are frequent, medical research is important, but having fun through music, art, hiking etc is important too. There are lots of subsidiary projects like getting a teen burns survivor's artwork printed on cloth, rural upliftment farming projects, community safety initiatives in shanty towns (squatter camps), literacy projects and a big dream of designing our own hospital in Botswana. Located between two universities, there is a young vibe to the area with street cafes but older volunteers find a niche too. There is some live music nearby and theatres and art galleries are within a few kilometres. Depending upon numbers and the time of year, volunteers live and eat on site but some choose to rent locally. The chance to travel within the country is high and to travel within southern Africa is likely. There is a steady stream of local and international volunteers of all different ages and abilities. It helps to have a driving licence for a manual car and a clean driving record. Smokers should not apply. We have 3 teachers, 2 administrators, piece-job cleaners
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Computers/ Internet
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
They can learn one of the eleven or more languages of South Africa. They can understand the history of the Khoi and San original inhabitants, the ingress of central and east African tribes who then became the dominant populations of South Africa; they can learn the good and bad aspects of the Europeans who colonised after the Africans; they can engage with a vibrant musical scene; they can learn what squatter camp life is like for the inhabitants who are our friends; they can find out how important and noisy soccer games are for South Africans; they can meet people from a range of African countries especially the adjacent ones .. and they can teach all those that they meet, about their own countries, cultures, traditions and foodstuffs.
There are a broad range of ways in which people can help, from teaching primary school subjects to burns survivors, to tutoring older children. They can use media skills to write or film the children's experiences. They can help with human rights legal research so that children who have been intentionally burned, have a chance to achieve justice. They can accompany children to hospital and help them through their medical procedures and therapies. They can help children to learn tennis, table tennis, swimming, cycling, trampolining.
People who can draw, design, paint, are needed. People who can e.g. help a child returning to Congo to re-learn his native tongue of French, will play a vital role in his reintegration. People who can studiously decipher the scrawly handwriting of doctors to type up medical notes are essential. We help at fire scenes when a handful of people or as many as 3000 people have lost everything that they own - we arrange food, blankets, shelter, medical help. Travellers just need compassion, integrity and a reasonable education to be able to make a difference. A bright teenager can make a difference; an 80 year old can still tell stories and guide the youngsters. All faiths and cultures are welcomed.
Our accommodation is basic. A single bed or bunkbed in a cottage shared with some of the children. It is a notch up from camping but it is simple. There is running water, hot showers, toilets, small communal kitchens, basic bed linen. WiFi is available for work emails only and research, but is otherwise easily accessible at the local shopping centre and internet cafes. Two to three meals a day are usually available. Washing machines can be used but the children's washing takes priority. At the main house there is a high wall topped with an electric fence and two dogs; at the school site there is simply a tall fence. We advise people not to bring high value phones, laptops, watches or jewelry.
When travelling to children's biological family's homes across South Africa, it is often possible to include a trip to conventional tourist sites at the same time. Within Johannesburg there is Museum Africa, the Apartheid Museum, Gold Reef City, the Market Theatre, many art galleries, many other theatres and some cinemas. There are open air markets with African curios and cloth and there are historic sites e.g. Winnie and Nelson Mandela's homes, the Hector Peterson memorial. There are lots of bars, cafes, restaurants and the national television broadcaster is the minutes walk away. Further afield, it is possible to drive to the Pilansberg for a safari or to catch a BazBus to the Drakensberg Mountains, to the Kruger National Park, to the coast at Durban, Plett, Amazimtoti or to travel to the winelands of Cape Town (12 hours by bus).
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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