retirement could be a time of opportunity to volunteer abroad

retirement could be a time of opportunity to volunteer abroad

This is a piece written by volunteer Jennifer for her local U3A magazine.

“Have you ever thought that retirement could be a time of opportunity to use your skills doing voluntary work abroad? An organisation called ‘people and places’,will help you find a suitable placement for a month in various parts of the world.  I decided on South Africa and spent a month helping out in Tshume primary school in a township near Port Elizabeth.  We were told it was the poorest but happiest school in the township.  Every school day began with Xolani , our driver, collecting us from our accommodation  in his Calabash mini bus. Calabash is a local tour company that works along with ‘people and places’  to support local schools and health centres. As regular as clockwork, Xolani deposited us at our schools or clinics/feeding centres on weekdays.  He collected us at 3p.m. We felt safe and secure but had the freedom to ‘do our own thing’ if we so wished at the end of the working day or at weekends.  It all ran smoothly and was well organised by Calabash, a highly ethical and transparent organisation. You can get a feel for this on their web site

I loved the harmonious singing that greeted me and my co-volunteer at Tshume Primary each morning and the high fives from little tots, hungry for education. The staff were so welcoming and great fun. Previous British volunteers had set up a library and when its door was unlocked each morning there was a rush for the best Sunshine Readers. The children spoke and read English very well but it was my job to take small groups out of class to help them progress further in English and Maths.

Some pupils were really struggling and needed extra help out of the classroom. All of them enjoyed the opportunity to do creative activities, as much of their education tends to involve rote learning.  You can imagine how they loved to sing and dance and do sport.

In our group were some district nurses who helped at the Emmanuel Centre,, visiting ill people in the shacks and helping in the crèche and with the feeding programme. They helped to organise the purchase of a container to act as an extension to their cramped   premises. Evenings back at the hotel were interesting and fun. The volunteers sat together to eat, drink and discuss the day’s events.  At weekends we were able to take trips out to see the culture and wild life in and around P.E.

If you are interested in finding out more, contact Kate Stefanko directly for more information. It is a new style of volunteering organisation, highly supportive and systematic with awards for responsible tourism

I think that if you take the challenge you won’t regret it and will come back to the U.K invigorated and inspired by what you have learned from the people of the townships.”

Jennifer – volunteer at Tshume School

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