Volunteer Abroad - South Africa, Volunteer Abroad Programs

The Rewards and Challenges of Volunteering in South Africa

by Julie Mitchiner, Greenheart Travel Volunteer in South Africa

This morning we are going to the Chintsa East preschool.  When we arrive the teacher, Pumhla, isn’t there.  Apparently the government has stopped paying Grade R teachers.  The school structure, or lack thereof, is frustrating to witness.  The preschool aged kids are just left to wander and play without any semblance of instruction or direction because the teacher doesn’t come to school.  We don’t have a key to the classroom but finally track one down.

We start with snack time as we have started the day late.  Many kids are sent to school without food, so a nice group of local women usually send sandwiches with us to school to bring.  After snack time we do some activities but the language barrier and little discipline proves difficult.  The children love your attention though and love to show you their creations.

We had some outdoor playtime which really just turned into me picking up and twirling the kids around one by one.  When I wasn’t under a pile of 8 of them.  I’ve also started to notice that the peeing outside thing is rather normal, boy or girl, man or woman.  There are so many things to be concerned about – lack of supervision, hygiene, sanitation of everything, ill-fitting clothes, lack of nutrition if there is food at all and the list goes on.

But, these kids are happy and don’t seem to have a care in the world.  So despite the stark contrast to perhaps our overly concerned and neurotic American society, they are still just kids.  And great kids they are.

The next day, we had a sports activity in the afternoon.  Milton drops us off at the field and then goes and collects the local Chintsa East kids in the pickup truck.  Today we taught them how to play volleyball.  They seemed to catch on quickly and enjoy it.  It was sad to end, but the highlight was probably watching all the kids run after us in the pickup truck up the hill and into the sunset.

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.



  1. Pingback: A Glimpse of Chintsa East through Sunday Worship « - May 21, 2012

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