Now, that I am working for WhizzKids United already for a whole month it is time for my first blog. Time really flies. When I agreed to volunteer at WhizzKids, I had no idea that it was so difficult to know where to start. Because there are so many impressions. I decided to write my blog in a chronicle order. I arrived at King Shaka airport at the 16th of October and just burst in into the rainy season of Durban. Nevertheless, I received a warm welcome by the whole team, which also represents the high appreciation of volunteers working for WhizzKids United.
I am involved with the “Siyakhona programme”, a project that teaches young people to use cameras and digital media. The participants are very interested in the program and each weekly meeting is big fun. We just started to design posters using “children´s rights” as a theme. At the moment we are collecting suitable pictures and teaching poster-making basics. We also have a news board in the Health Academy, which the kids fill every month with information about the happenings at WhizzKids United and around the community. Last week we went out to a small local food market to take pictures and interviewed the salesmen. The group members were very passionate and took their job very serious, which was really nice to observe.
My personal highlight of the past time with WhizzKids United definitely was the football tournament Ashtown Primary school, organised by using the “On the Ball programme” concept. We had about 250 children and the weather conditions were really fantastic. It was a pleasure to watch the kids play. The most impressive thing I saw were two kids sharing a pair of shoes, one child used one and the other used one. How great is that? Disadvantage in the end, I forgot to put on sun cream and was rewarded with a bad sunburn.Besides work, living in South Africa allows me to gather great experiences. The people are so relaxed and the area in and around Durban has a lot to offer. Until now, I can say that I totally enjoyed my first weeks in Durban. Fortunately there are some more!
For me, Africa is such a simple and yet complicated continent. It’s simple because the people are so warm-hearted and make you feel at home, and yet complicated because people are suffering due to poverty and unhealthy living conditions. These challenges need the many professionals all over the world to unite and help conquer the problems that Africa faces.
WhizzKids United is one of the best NGOs who fight on the front line against HIV/AIDS in one of South Africa’s most affected areas, Pietermaritzburg. With my dedicated heart and promising public health professional knowledge and skills, I am honored to have joined WKU as a volunteer and an intern. During the three months at WKU, I’ve experienced various adolescent-focused activities and services, such as sexual-reproductive health intervention and life skills training using football as a metaphor in dealing with the HIV pandemic. I got involved in the feeding scheme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, and many other fun activities provided to clients who come to the Health Academy. This has been a mind opening journey for me to work in and live in such a child-friendly environment and see how much fun the children are having. Their smiles make me happy.
I held the position of program coordinator at WKU. Being based at the Durban office slightly changed my responsibilities and gave me opportunities to work for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s (OVC) programme. I have been very fortunate to work on the annual report and eventually submitting it to the funder of Meal-A-Day; this project began when I opted to help my program manager to gather information and statistics that would be presented as a form of a report- the report also clearly defined the organization’s hard work and progress during the past year. This was a great chance to monitor and evaluate the OVC program in-depth. There have been several challenges of gathering different data, but we finally managed to come up with an improved and more efficient approach to track data. Meanwhile, it is also exciting to participate in the process of developing WKU’s promising Monitoring & Evaluation programme.
All in all, it has been a wonderful experience at WKU, but sadly I need to go back to the missions awaiting me. I wish I could stay longer so I could have taken many more responsibilities that need more time to undertake. As the saying goes, “being apart opens a door to reunite”, so hopefully I will come back to this charming country and contribute my efforts again.