About South Africa

Global Volunteer Network currently has opportunities to work with the youth of South Africa. Policies in the past denied the majority of young men and women opportunities to develop meaningfully as young people and transit into meaningful adulthood.The country continues to struggle with youth development in the areas of skills development, unemployment, youth training, and academic achievement. Our partner organization aims to focus on providing learning opportunities that align with the national initiatives.

Volunteers will have the opportunity to participate in the social and academic development of young people in Venda, South Africa - the Limpopo Province, by contributing their valuable time as teaching assistants and tutors in primary and secondary schools, and childcare workers in day care centres. They will have the opportunity to be directly involved in the motivation and development of young people's lives and ultimately helping to bridge gaps and influence change in the 'New South Africa'.

For more information about the program please visit the South Africa program page on the Global Volunteer Network website.

Recent South Africa Journals:

Home is where the Heart is

 Posted by Lisa Kuepper at 8:19 pm  South Africa  Comments Off on Home is where the Heart is
Jul 012015

South Africa in less than two weeks you have managed to steal a piece of my heart that no other place in this world will ever be able to replace! I mean of course the friends I’ve made have a huge part in this and I’ve talked about a few of them before, but it is the culture and the way of life that have completely overwhelmed me! I am just so amazed and fascinated I don’t really know how to put it into words but I wish I had more time to keep exploring and living here. I truly feel like I have three homes now and I am so blessed! I mean how many people can say they have a home in Germany, New Zealand, and South Africa, all so different but they all hold a piece if my heart.

Currently I’m sitting in front of my gate just staring at it and the thought of going through actually could make me cry. But I promised I wouldn’t cry so I won’t (: instead I’m just going to focus on all the amazing memories I’ve made in just such a little time!!

Like this one:
When I first arrived here the Bus I was meant to take to Venda was completely over booked so me and the Zote representative had to hitchhike our way to Venda. It was an experience unlike any other I have ever made! (: but I thought it was funny after the first moment of shock when I thought we were being kidnapped at some point. Anyways along the way we picked up many many hitch hikers and dropped them off at various places. I learned that if you want a ride from a taxi or any random person and you are going somewhere locally, you hold your hand out and point your finger down, if you want to go to the next town (or the one after that) you hold your hand out and point your finger up.

Later on during the week however I realised that I needed to do neither as my white skin seemed to say I want a taxi ride whenever a taxi drive past. All the drivers always wanted I know how my day was going, where I was going, if I needed a ride, and sometimes if I wanted to marry them. Yes, that is something I will not forget, never had I thought I would be proposed to more than once in my life, well at the moment I’ve had three serious proposals that I can thin of right now! So I guess that is another experience I don’t think I will get anywhere else, and please… I am ok with only getting one more proposal for the rest of my life! Trust me (:

I guess another experience is that my usual streak of disorganisation continued a couple of days ago when I went to book my bus back to Joburg and …. All the busses were fully booked, but hitch hiking or taxiing my way was not an option after the first experience I had made of that!!! Sooooo I managed to get a friend and a group of his friends to go on a road trip with me to drop me off at the hotel that I was meant to stay at. To no surprise: no rooms were left, I mean it’s me after all nothing ever really goes according to plan A with me. Anyways my amazing driver made lots of calls and drove me around for almost an hour until we found a place that had a room left. It was a very very fancy place and I’m so thankful that he went through all that effort to make sure that I was safe and close to the airport. Thank you, if you are reading this!

These are just a few things and they are barely the tip of the ice berg but this was an experience that will change my life forever and I am very glad that I did this. It was a huge challenge yes, but I put all my heart into it and I’ve learned sooo much! Now it’s time for me to go home and leave home … It’s the weirdest feeling in the world. South Africa this is not goodbye! I will be back …and I cannot wait!

Power cuts, Candles, and fixing Toilets

 Posted by Lisa Kuepper at 4:47 pm  South Africa  Comments Off on Power cuts, Candles, and fixing Toilets
Jun 292015

I can’t say I’ve ever had a babysitting experience quite like what happened yesterday. You know, normally you would babysit for a couple of hours or a night and most of the time you and the kids actually speak the same language. Well none of that applied to me, plus as the day went on the number of kids I found myself looking after increased exponentially.
The day started off with me waking up next to the Niwi and her mum as I stayed over at their place and I knew that her mum was invited to a party festival thing in another town. So I started the day off with helping the mum find clothes for the costume and then making breakfast for Niwi and I. Soon after that the fun started as we started playing games with some other kids, taking silly pictures and having dance parties in the garage. Silly me however should have been watching Niwi more closely as she is a very adorable, cheeky five year old girl who tries to test everybody’s boundaries. So when she told me that the toilet at the house where I am staying at was broken, yea I was calm on the outside but inside I was freaking out ! Most people here don’t have toilets so this was something special and I managed to break it! Well not I but the person I was responsible for. So I sent her away to go and okay with the boys and somehow managed to fix the toilet! Ok no harm done I realised it was already broken before and barely holding together as it was. At that point I thought ok this is probably the worst thing that’s going to happen today, well I was in for a big surprise! When I came back to the kids Niwi was crying and trying to run away while the boys were looking at me helplessly. So I grabbed Niwi and put her shoes on, totally forgetting about mine, my tea, locking the house, and basically everything important and went with Niwi to her mum’s house do she could get distracted. Well whilst I was looking away this little bundle of energy started to cook ! In a pot with holes … Spilling water everywhere …which includes the electrically powered camping stove and the power outlet itself. When I realised what she was doing and I took it away from her and started cleaning up the huge mess she had made, she started making scrambled eggs. I started feeling like I was in the wrong universe in junior master chef, but I didn’t allow myself to panic and I just started cleaning up one thing at a time, however when she started wanting to cook pasta and rice and I said no she started screaming at the top if her lungs and she ended crying for her mum whilst I was trying to comfort her and make sure that the electric stove wasn’t going to catch on fire! In the end some kids said they would distract her whilst I could clean, but they were doing a good job at distracting me too, begging me to okay games with them about every two minutes. Well I got most things cleaned up and planned to do the rest later, having no idea when the mum would come back, and I started playing games with the kids again. Niwi was now in a good mood again clinging to me like a monkey and refusing to let go. All was right again in the world.
So we played games and laughed then as it got colder the kids started going home, Niwi and I ate dinner, she took a bath, and her mum still wasn’t back. I tried to reach her but I couldn’t so Niwi fell asleep in my arms crying for her mother and it took all I had in me to not cry too as she was cuddling up to me. Oh yea and the power had gone out about two hours before that. So I could not even finish cleaning up because I, the white girl, couldn’t even see my own hands in the dark. Yea it was pitch black and I was holding a five year old baby girl after such an adventurous day in a house that wasn’t mine or safe and I had no idea what to do.
I decided I would hold her until her mum would come back even if that was the entire night. A while later there was a knock on the door and a familiar voice calling out my name, but it wasn’t the mum, it was her friend! So it turns out the mum was not able to get a ride back home anywhere so she send her closest friend to take her daughter for the night! We locked the house and she walked me home and then took Niwi and also went home. When I arrived at my house I found my host mum preparing food in candle light. She is so amazing! Nothing stops her, however I was exhausted and fully fed so I said I would go to bed, my host dad asked if I needed a candle but seriously after the day I had a candle combined with me was just a disaster waiting to happen. So I stumbled to bed in the dark and fell asleep almost instantly.

The next day the power came back just before 8 in the morning and I went to visit Niwi and her mum and everything was well and good, and I helped finish up the mess from the previous day. Is this what it feels like to be a mum? Well all my respect goes out to all the mums in the world! You have a hard job and you do it very well, thanks mum! I love you :)

Jun 252015

Today I want to tell you about three of my friends, who have taught me that strength is an option that is given to all of us by God, but it is out choice to accept that strength and work with it to be happy and make our lives better. That strength is not how rich or wealthy you are with money, but how rich you are in your heart, and how you use that love in your heart to be happy.
“It is about how rich you are in your heart that matters to me, not what you look like on the outside.”
This is a quote from one of my closest friends here. I don’t want to post her name on here, but she has inspired me sooo much, I can’t even put that into words. She comes from a family that has no respect and love and spread lies about her so that she would not have a place to life. When she finally found a place to life here in Manamani, she did not have enough money to support her daughter here so she had to leave her daughter to grow up with her grandmother. She does not even have enough money to feed herself everyday, so she somehow learned to survive without eating for three days sometimes. She lives in a house that has two rooms, electricity is not guaranteed, and she sleeps on a piece of old foam with one blanket. There is no sink, shower, or toilet, or stove! She simply has a few power plugs, but only halve of them work. So Mashudu bought her a little camping stove which has turned her life around to the better a lot. I have tried to give her as much as I can in terms of food, clothes, shoes, and blankets, but it is still not enough. Right now her baby girl is staying with her and she was so scared and worried about someone breaking in that I had to spend the night with them to lend them comfort and keep then safe! That morning when I woke up after sleeping under one blanket, on one sponge with three people, and no electricity over the night, I felt the happiest I have in a long time. That might we were all there for each other and we woke up together the next morning and there was food we could eat. My friend is putting herself through this struggle so she can finish her education and get a job! She wants the job so she can take care of her baby girl so she will never have to experience what she is going through !!
The second friend I want to talk about is the teacher I have been working with the last couple of days. She has a 1 1/2 year old baby boy, who cries hysterically every time he sees a white person. But he actually got used to me and waves and smiles, but he makes sure to keep his safety distance!! Anyways she is only 24 years old but she absolutely loves working with little kids, even though she has not been paid once in the last 4 years! This is because the crèche’s priority is on getting enough food for all the kids, and then the salaries get sorted out! She still loves it and smiles everyday. Her boyfriend, and father of her child, lives in Johannesburg where he has a job, so that he can support his family. They don’t get to see each other much at all because they are both always busy. Still she is grateful for what she has including her beautiful baby boy. She has invited me to make bricks with her over the weekend to try and introduce me to as much Venda culture as possible. That includes lots and lots of food! (:
The third friend I want to talk about, I see him as family, he is 17 and in Grade 11 at high school. But he cannot wait to go and see the world and study at university. He has never travelled very far from Mamamani, but he said his first stop will be New Zealand. The reason I’m writing about him is that he is so young yet he is so mature. In everything that he does he always always always makes sure that everyone around him is safe, has food, and is happy. This is so simple yet so powerful and something that our society seriously lacks. Just simply being there for one another and showing that you care not with money but with the little things, it is so important. Currently he is working on a science project to help his entire Manamani community. He and a friend are working on finding cheaper and easier ways to generate energy, or ways to do things using less energy. Their aim is to win nationals as they then will be provided with food, money, and opportunities and recognition to study at good universities. He always cares for other people in his community especially those who need it.

These three people have so little yet they give so much, because they are strong. They chose to be strong so that they may help others be strong. I am very thankful that I’m their friend, and that I was allowed to meet them and learn from them. (:

My Creche Family

 Posted by Lisa Kuepper at 9:40 pm  South Africa  Comments Off on My Creche Family
Jun 232015

Today I started my third day at the crèche and I was so excited to go there. I see them as my family as I have been welcomed in like I had been here since the crèche started!! So this is how my day at the crèche starts: since I try to help out as many people as possible I start helping out in the kitchen by doing all the dishes that arrive just after 9am when everyone has had their soft porridge for morning tea. After that I try my best to help out with preparing lunch, but without all the kitchen utensils we are all so used to and take for granted it is pretty hard! Still I try my best but even though I may not be the best at actually doing the jobs, I certainly entertain everyone trying and I like making people laugh. Laughing is healthy!! Then I go to hang out with the kids and watch them being taught then I play games with them and sometimes tell them stories (the teacher very kindly translates back and forth) but in slowly learning some greetings in Venda and how to respond! So the kids think I’m fluent and they excitedly tell me story and I just nod and laugh and they smile so I guess I’m doing it right!(: Some of the teachers have stopped talking English to me so in learning by trial and error if I do what they told me they repeat the word until I can pronounce it and if I do it wrong well they laugh and smile (: happiness is all I need so it’s easy to say that I absolutely love it here!! Before lunch everyone stands up in a line and the leader sings “leader me follow” [click here to read more]

My name is Pumoso

 Posted by Lisa Kuepper at 9:24 pm  South Africa  Comments Off on My name is Pumoso
Jun 222015

If you know me you know I’m rather clumsy at times, if you didn’t know that…well now you do the point of this is that yesterday I went to an Internet cafe in town, because I had to write down so much on my blog and I already had sooooo many things to talk about that my data just wouldn’t be enough! So I got my friend Lindelani to come with me so I wouldn’t get lost and it was very nice of him, because he doesn’t like town very much. We did buy some bread for his grandma and his favourite cookies later though so he was happy. Anyways whilst I was typing away on my blog he was terribly bored and asked me how long I was going to be about every two minutes. The point of this is though that I was writing this really long post about my orientation and then with one click and only 9 minutes of half an hour internet to go I deleted everything literally two sentences before I was finished. What can I say I haven’t changed a bit, except my name, my name is Pumoso. Pumoso means comfort, and it was given to me by Mushundu my best friend! Mushundu means lucky, and we know that we both are, we are both really lucky to be here, and I will try my best to bring comfort and strength to those who need it. Because over here strength and faith is everything that keeps the community going day in and day out. To be honest when I first started at the crèche yesterday I felt like there was nothing I could do to help, and that there was nothing I could do for the kids, but after my friend came and [click here to read more]

My first day at the Creche

 Posted by Lisa Kuepper at 12:08 am  South Africa  Comments Off on My first day at the Creche
Jun 222015

So today was my first day working at the Manamani community creche which is just around the corner from my house. At first I was absolutely overwhelmed and I had no idea what to do as all the kids called me by my best friend’s name Mashudu, and they were so excited to see me, and they were talking to me non-stop, and I had absolutely no idea what on earth they were saying to me. The creche does not have enough money to pay for running water, so the toilet is in a little hut with 10 holes in the ground were the kids have to go to the toilet together without any privacy. Their kitchen, where they cook breakfast and lunch for the children is outside, as it consists of an open fire pit underneath a tin roof balanced on walls that are half broken. There are four rooms at the creche, the room for kids ages 0-1, the room for kids ages 1-3, the room for children aged 3-4, and the room for the butterflies aged 4-5, this is their last room from which the kids graduate and then move on to the primary school which is just across the road! These kids have very little and their food is very basic, but the teachers try their very best to give them vegetables with every meal. Still the kids are beyond happy, always smiling and laughing and very eager to learn new things. I admire the teachers who work so very hard to look after these kids, as some of their families live far away so that they can have money to take care of themselves. I was very overwhelmed and only joined in in the fun a couple of hours after I arrived so I am [click here to read more]

Jun 182015

Since I get confused with am and pm times my feel for what time of day it is, and where the rest of the world is at right now is pretty much gone… But the over 24 hours of flight time were not only a physical roller coaster with quite a few turbulences, but an emotional one too. I am remember going from just numb and unreal to absolutely nervous and hands down terrified and everything in between in all that time. But now that I have actually arrived I cannot stop smiling! Of course getting my visa by a very lovely man who was singing to himself and trying to stifle a big yawn probably had something to do with that too. Even though it was so early in the morning he was so happy and full of life, and that is what ive noticed already: everyone’s attitudes are so good and happy all the time.   So Even though I’m extremely tired I think I’m ready to take on this challenge! I’m excited; Venda here I come  

One last sleep…

 Posted by Lisa Kuepper at 8:23 pm  South Africa  Comments Off on One last sleep…
Jun 162015

So I’m sitting here in my flat so nervous and excited that I don’t think I will actually be able to go to sleep! I have no idea what’s ahead of me, but I know it’s going to be amazing and challenging, and absolutely unforgettable! I am so excited to meet everyone and I hope that all of us have a great two weeks ahead of us!! I cannot put into words what I am feeling right now, but I also cannot stop smiling! So that’s a good thing!! Fingers crossed I will make it to all the right gates, and that all my flights go smoothly and that I will be in South Africa in no time, with no harm done!!   South Africa here I come, New Zealand see you in two weeks!(:

A final farewell

 Posted by Chante Cooper at 2:20 am  South Africa  Comments Off on A final farewell
May 162015

As my final days in Venda arrived,  I spent my precious hours left in this beautiful country saying some very hard goodbyes.  Monday I devoted to my Manamani children.  I went to school for the last day,  saying goodbye to all of the teachers and telling the children I was leaving with a few last moments helping them with their schoolwork. The last class I took outside for lifeskills and if I now close my eyes and think of my time at that school, I picture that last hour playing soccer with the kids on the rough red sand outside the classrooms with the bright, hot sun searing down on us. After school, my usual gang of kids followed me home and we played monopoly and rumicub board games untill the sun (and the loadshedding of electricity) went to bed and forced us to end for the night. My last full day, I went and said my goodbyes at the creche I first began working in and funnily enough it was here that I got the biggest goodbye with the teachers hugging me and taking photos and singing goodbye songs with tears in their eyes while scolding me for not letting me know sooner so they could throw me a leaving party. All my close friends came over that night and we threw a small party in the garage just spending our last hours together and then saying somr very unreal and sad farewells. My last adventure was the trip back to Pretoria on Wednesday.  Unlike most volunteers who take a safe, prebooked bus, I decided I wanted to stop at the huge fruit market in a town on the way and the only way, I was told, this was possible was to take a different kind of bus. Well [click here to read more]

1 Month to go

 Posted by Lisa Kuepper at 1:13 pm  South Africa  Comments Off on 1 Month to go
May 132015

So, I thought I would take a study break and really appreciate the fact how quickly my journey to South Africa is coming along! I am so excited to go to Venda and spend time with the community in Manamani! I am mostly excited about experiencing their church services and how they differ to the ones I go to here in New Zealand. Personally I have heard a lot about Manamani, because my best friend was there for the last couple of months so I cannot wait to meet everyone she has told me about, the people that have already contacted me over fb and the little kids that are apparently very excited to meet me. I am excited to meet you too! I promise we will have a lot of fun together and we can teach each other songs from our different cultures!! I absolutely love music and I heard music is quite big in South Africa as well so I am looking forward to making music together! Currently I am in my first semester of University leading up to exams in only a couple of weeks, but I cannot stop thinking about this journey ahead! So if you wanna know what I will get up to on this adventure follow my blog here and hopefully I will be able to tell you all the stories!!

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