The week I spent with All Out Africa in Swaziland was truly an eye-opening experience. I hadn't even heard of The Kingdom of Swaziland before 2018, let alone what day-to-day life there is like, or the challenges the country faces. I had no idea what to expect, but that turned out to be completely OK. All Out ushered me through a week of adventuring (camping in Kruger National Park was one for the books), volunteering (learning the role of volunteers and how much the community benefits from the work reminded me of the impact of community-based programs), and expanding my horizons. While the volunteer group was comprised almost entirely of 17-20 year old Dutch and German girls, talking to them about why they were there revealed an investment in their work and a deep caring for the kids they saw each morning. And it was instantaneously clear how much the kids (mostly 5 and 6 year olds) loved the time they spent with the volunteers, too.
My takeaways from the trip include, but are definitely not limited to:
- Volunteering with a group that's lead by a community-based program is the best way to both understand the culture, and make a difference
- International travel is so, so important
- The mountains of Swaziland are highly underrated
- I must go back