Why did you decide to intern abroad with the Happy Africa Foundation in South Africa?
Stacey: I first volunteered with African impact in May 2013 for 3 weeks and within that short amount of time I knew that I had more to give.
After seeing the advert for the internship position the week before I left to go back to the UK and realised that this was my chance to change my life and get out of the rut I had gotten myself into back at home in the UK having been in the same job for nearly 4 years and realising that Sales Administration wasn’t the type of job I wanted for the my longterm future.
I knew that The Happy Africa Foundation would be the best way in which I could contribute more to the longterm sustainability of the projects and the communities that African impact work in around St Lucia and hopefully achieve something great for everyone involved.
Describe your day to day activities as an intern.
Stacey: Every day was never quite the same with the internship as there was always new things happening that may need attention. However there were four main areas to the internship:
Donations - Managing monetary and physical donations given by volunteers, local residents and friends and family back home. Every donation would be logged in and out so that we had a rough idea of what we had for all of the projects.
Fundraising and Events - Organising events withe local residents in St Lucia and also in the volunteer house. I organised a monthly quiz in a local pub and would get the volunteers involved with games nights, themed nights and exercise classes that would be held at the volunteer house. I used online campaigns to widen the circle of donors to friends and family, past volunteers and further volunteers.
Social Media - Facebook and Twitter are great ways of keeping everyone in the loop, what’s been happening in the communities and what money is being raised. I would also write blogs and articles for The Happy Africa Foundation website.
Raising Awareness - A really key part of the internship was to make more people aware of the charity and the partnership between African Impact and The Happy Africa Foundation. Getting local residents involved and organising events in the communities is really important in getting more support.
Do you feel like you made a significant impact on the local community? Why or why not?
Stacey: I definitely feel like I made a significant difference in the local communities.
During my 6 months as the intern I raised around R90,000 (£6000/$8000) which helped aid all four focal projects which included Education, Medical Support, 10 Families Programme and Inkanyezi Creche Redevelopment. I saw first hand where the money went.
The two most significant projects to me were raising enough money to complete Inkanyezi Creche which needed a new roof and still needs an extension and toilets.
An emergency building project was also needed after a storm hit in November 2013 and enough money was raised to rebuild an extremely damaged house which needed a new wall and roof. My proudest 6 months so far!
Tell me about one person you met.
Stacey: I met so many people during my 6 months internship, so many inspirational people that have been through so much and have triumphed when the people around them doubted their success.
One of the most inspirational ladies I met during my volunteering and interning was Mama Gumede, the principle of Inkanyezi Creche where African Impact and The Happy Africa Foundation work very closely with her and the Creche. Inkanyezi Creche is a focal project and The Happy Africa Foundation has raised around R90,000 to complete rebuild the creche from its original wooden hut state.
Mama Gumede first met African Impact during one of their HIV Support Groups and she told them of her dream to have a safe and sanitary creche where all of the children could learn and play. After visiting the creche plans were made and money was raised to start the creche rebuild.
The relationship between Mama Gumede and The Happy Africa Foundation have had a great relationship since 2010 when fundraising began, we hope that with the money raised we can help Mama Gumede achieve her goal and get her registered with the government so that she can receive help and funding.
Mama Gumede’s presence is one that amazed me the first time I met her, she is extremely passionate about her creche and about ensuring that the children get the best start in life, one hell of a lady who throughout her own struggles has always put the creche first.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Stacey: This experience has impacted my future in a way that I never imagined.
Personally I feel a lot happier in myself and feel very at home which surprised me as my family and friend were so far away.
Professionally I have finally found a job that I am extremely passionate about and South Africa has been a massive part of that discovery, if hadn’t have taken the plunge and volunteered I would never have thought of interning.
And now having done my first internship with The Happy Africa Foundation I will soon be embarking on two new internships with this incredible charity in Zanzibar and Cape Town.