Staff Spotlight: Andy Eskeland

Community Development Officer


Andy arrived at GVI Cape Town's base in 2012 as a volunteer and was asked to stay on as a scholar. He has since been employed as a coordinator and most recently as community officer with a primary focus on developing GVI’s childcare, women’s empowerment, and healthcare initiatives at their Cape Town hub. He loves seeing the difference it makes for the volunteers coming out, but nothing compares to the difference it makes for the children and community members he works with!

What is your favorite travel memory?

I have been privileged to experience many of the amazing attractions that bring tourists here in the first place, such as Table Mountain National Park, which is now one of the official wonders of the natural world, the big five along with countless other wild animals on safari drives, and wine tours in the world renowned Stellenbosch wine region.

However, one of the greatest things about volunteering abroad is that it’s a fantastic way to see another country, not only as a tourist, but also through working with local people and experiencing it as they do.

During my time here I have formed lasting meaningful friendships with partners and locals who have shown me much of South Africa that I would not have seen otherwise.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I first joined GVI with the plan of staying for two months, returning home, and pursuing a career as a high school math teacher. Having spent four years here working with the children with special needs I have realized that this is an area I truly enjoy and plan to continue with a career as a care worker.

My experiences and training here will definitely be an asset when that time comes. The work and training I have been involved with has brought me into contact with many people from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds and has greatly increased my understanding of global issues as well as giving me the opportunity to improve my teamwork and leadership skills to the point where I am involved with training our interns in those areas when they start with GVI Cape Town.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

A number of volunteers have gone on to use skills they’ve gained here and put them to use as teachers and care workers for people with special needs. One particular volunteer joined us on our healthcare program to work with children with special needs so that he could gain the knowledge and experience required to get the job he sought after back home.

GVI’s volunteer projects offer an opportunity for people who may not have all the experience and qualifications required to throw themselves in and help alongside our own trained staff and local community staff members.

For this particular volunteer, the ability to get involved with his work of choice in a different country, and the skills and knowledge he gained by dedicating his time and energy to the project, allowed him to go home with the required experience to move forward in his career and directly helped him to get the position he wanted.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

It sounds cliché but our whole team here is truly passionate and cares wholly about the direction and success of our projects. We are all dedicated to doing things the right way and making a profound difference, both for the children and community members we work with as well as the volunteers who come out and help.

I have been particularly proud of the focus on professionalism in our approach to child protection and education.