Staff Member Spotlight: Renee van den Hurke

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What position do you hold at SAVE? What has been your career path so far?

I’m a volunteer leader at SAVE. I finished my bachelors in education at a university in the Netherlands. I worked in hospitality while I studied. And after my studies, I worked as a teacher at a primary school in a low developed area in Eindhoven.

I traveled a lot all around the world and I’ve always been organizing things. I’m the busy bee of the family. I work every day at the crèche in Skandaal kamp and coordinate the volunteers.

I give training to the volunteers about teaching and fundraising and help them out with their daily questions. I’m also the PA of Nikki and do administration and fundraising for SAVE.

What inspired you to join SAVE?

In November 2013 I started at SAVE as an volunteer I was supposed to stay for 2 weeks but I felt in LOVE with the kids and stayed for 2 months.

After that I traveled for 8 more months all around the world and went back home to the Netherlands. I knew I couldn’t stay at home so I contacted SAVE about coming back.

My passion is to work with kids and help them and make a difference in their lives. SAVE gives me that opportunity. I work with children every day and I’m really making a difference.

Because I am such a busy bee, SAVE is perfect for me because there is always enough work to do and to organize when you work with volunteers.

What does the future hold for SAVE - any exciting new programs to share?

Hopefully I can stay forever. Right now I have no idea for how long I will stay but at least a year. Though I’m already sure it will be longer.

We've got a lot off plans to work on. Right now I’m busy writing a curriculum for SAVE that we are going to use at all the crèches with the volunteers.

We want to set up a training school to train local people to work at the crèches. We want to open new crèches to help more children. We are busy with setting up more fundraising programs in South Africa and overseas.

We will never stand still. There are so many more people we can help, that we will always improve ourselves as an organization to get the opportunity to help more and more people!

What is your favorite story so far of a volunteer's experiences with SAVE?

Every day is my favorite story. The minute we drive into the townships and the children see us they start running to the gate, clapping their hands, shouting your name and you will see the biggest smiles ever.

Every day I experience that moment and everyday I’m getting goose bumps all over my body and getting this warm feeling inside. When the kids run to you and give you a big hug and a kiss, that changes your life.

When the kids can’t speak English when they come to school for the first time and the next day they keep on repeating that one word they learned the day before.

And I feel honored to experience my favorite story every day and that favorite story is worth it everything I had to give up at home.

Any tips for travelers considering volunteering in South Africa?

Be open-minded. Live the day. Follow your heart and don’t forget a day without laughing is a day not living!!