Since I was a child, I have always been really big into sports. Not only do I love sports, but I love the water. When my mom stumbled upon the course and it was sports and surfing in South Africa, it instantly became on the top of my bucket list. It had my two favourite things -sports and water- and not only that, but I got to see a different part of the world while doing it.
Deanna is from Canada and has always had a passion for travel. She tried out volunteering as a way to see the world and have a new experience.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
GVI was absolutely amazing.
When you pay your fee with GVI, that covers all your housing and necessary foods. So you don’t have to worry about where you’re staying or what you’re going to eat. They also cover transport once you’re in South Africa. Plus, if you had any questions at all, you had a contact with GVI, who made sure all your questions were answered.
The only thing that I had to organize on my own was my flights.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I was surprised by how much we went out and did stuff on the weekends. We rarely stayed on base. So you for sure want to have extra spending money for while you’re down there because there are a ton of different things that you can do while you’re there. For example, I went shark cage diving, and if I hadn’t budgeted for spending money, I wouldn’t have been able to.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
So, in the mornings, you get up, have your breakfast and such, and a taxi picks you up and brings you to the township school we were working in. Then, during the da,y you take different classes out for physical education depending on the schedule.
During free periods, you plan what you want to do with the children for the next week. And then, after school finishes for the day, a taxi comes and picks you up to bring you home.
The only other responsibility you have is to help cook supper once a week.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
South Africa has a really bad reputation for crime and murder. So I was a little bit concerned about safety once I was there. GVI was amazing. They did an orientation when we got there. One of the staff took us for a walk around so that we knew the area and it was less daunting. We had a rule on base that once you left the gated community you had to walk in threes just because people are less likely to rob you that way. By the end of the trip, though, I felt comfortable in the community. You just have to be aware of your surroundings.
South Africa isn’t as scary as people say. Yes, it has crime. And poverty. You do need to be aware of your surroundings. I believe the rate is so “high” because of how many people that live there, but that’s just my opinion.
What were the other volunteers like?
So before I left, I was a little bit concerned about what the other volunteers there would be like. Would they be older? Would they be younger? Would we get along?
One thing I think you have to remember is that you guys are there doing the same thing. You’re volunteering and you’re going to help people because YOU want to. All the volunteers were kind hearted. And we didn’t necessarily always get along, but that’s going to happen when you live in the same house as other people, lol.
In hindsight, I shouldn’t have worried as much about it because there’s always going to be at least one person you click with and it doesn’t matter how old they are, as long as you get along.