Alumni Spotlight: Hayley Mellon

Why did you decide to volunteer with GVI in South Africa?

Hayley: I chose GVI as the company to volunteer with after a lot of research done on the internet and attending a few information sessions with other companies. As I am only 18 I was worried about staying with host families as this was my first big trip overseas by myself. GVI offers accommodation in basic apartments and houses so that was immediately a go for me. Then I looked into what the program offered and what I could do on my time off. With the project in Cape Town i was able to work monday to friday and then have weekends off to explore Cape Town and go wherever I liked. I also knew that there would be staff to greet me at the airport and staying there so I knew i would feel safe.

Orphanage Volunteer Program in Cape Town, South Africa

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Hayley: Every morning we woke up at around 7:30am, got ready and ate breakfast ready to go to the project. If there were any meetings they would be held just before we left. At 8:30am we headed out to the front of the apartments to be collected by our friendly Zimbabwean bus drivers, Patrick, Walter and Eric! Then we were driven through the townships where we would see many families already up and out for the day. The township consisted of many houses made out of pieces of wood and metal and the roofs were held down by rocks.

Then we would arrive at project, either at the nursery or the orphanage. At the nursery we would walk in to hear the many chanting voices of the children "TEACHER TEACHER TEACHER" the day would then go as follows:

9am: Finish feeding the babies porridge and then separate the children into classes.

9:15-10:15am: Maths & English - very basic lessons as the children mainly spoke xhosa and very little English!

10:30am: Snack time! Followed by free play; 60 children running around screaming and playing together.

11am: Physical play - lots of singing and dancing. The children loved it!

11:30am-12pm: Creative lesson - glitter, colouring, sticking - lots of mess everywhere!

12 -1pm: Lunch time - a meal made by the carers at the nursery - lots of carbs!

1 - 2pm: Lala (nap time), volunteer lunch and lesson planning.

2 - 4pm: Putting on shoes after nap time, one on one lessons with the younger children.

4pm: Back to the apartments, more lesson planning and then social times and free time!

The orphanage was very similar to this, however, at 3pm we would brush the children's teeth!

How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?

Hayley: Before going on this trip I was planning to study Sports Science and Nursing at university. After this trip I changed my enrollment to university and I will (hopefully) now be studying Primary Education next year. It has also taught me to never take for granted the opportunities I have in life or what I have because there are so many others out there with much less than what I have. I am truly thankful for every moment I spent volunteering in South Africa!