Alumni Spotlight: Brenda Homan

Brenda Homan is from the United States and is always on the pursuit of happiness as she works in leadership development and coaching, helping others pursue their passion by pursuing hers. Brenda is 34 years old and finds volunteering to be one of the best ways to explore one's personal leadership skills and to meet amazing people.

Cooking in South Africa

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

Brenda: I researched a few places and through one inquiry a different place, they recommended Khaya since they had more flexible time commitments. I wanted to volunteer some place that I haven’t been and for approximately 2 weeks. Since I was working at the time, it was difficult to get off more time in one block. Khaya was very flexible and accommodating to my time restrictions. Also they were able to place me within 2 weeks of my confirmation as I wasn’t able to plan months in advance due to my current work situation.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.?

Brenda: They had a schedule for me for each day so I knew where I what I would be working on throughout the week. I had the opportunity to experience many areas of the organization, which was great. I worked in the orphanage watching the children, helped the teachers in the classroom, assisted the cooks in the kitchen, worked with the men’s group, spent time with the community support, and anything else they wanted me to do. It was really a great experience to use my skills in other ways to help others.

What made this volunteer abroad experience unique and special?

Brenda: I think using your skills in a different environment makes you stretch yourself into unknown areas that you didn’t know existed. Khaya allowed me to do this but was also there for guidance to help me if I didn’t think I could do it on my own. For example, I’m not a teacher but I taught for a day when one of the teachers wasn’t there and they didn’t have a sub. That is something I wouldn’t have signed up to do since I don’t have the skill set but in this situation, I was the best they had. Even though it wasn’t easy, I learned a lot about how a teacher works and I tried new techniques that I would never have thought of previously.

Brenda teaching in a classroom

I really enjoyed working with the people and experiencing the part of South Africa that you wouldn’t normally see if you visited Cape Town. Being a tourist, you can be shielded from the truth and you avoid the things you don’t want to see. This allowed me to see and be part of the authentic community. I ate the food and lived in the same places that they do. As a tourist, I would have stayed in my comfort zone. I love stretching my comfort zone by being with people that I don’t know and learn to trust.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Brenda: It has made me reason that you have to do the things you are scared of doing. You have to embrace change and be okay failing and learning from those mistakes. It has made me realize how small the world really is and how people from around the world, rich or poor, experience the same types of challenges and fears that we do. We are all human.