Volunteering in South Africa

During my last year in school, I had to take a decision which way to go after my exams. I had a small idea in which direction to go on, but I wasn’t really sure about the exact topic to study. But mainly, I wanted to do something different after all the years of school and leave my books for at least one year to find out more about the world, about myself and my interests. That’s where the idea of volunteering came step by step. 

I am Lucie Stolwijk, 20 years, from Luxembourg and I am busy doing my volunteering here in South Africa.

For me, it was absolutely the right time to go away for some months and win experience. I didn’t want to make quick and uncertain decisions about universities.

So I started to check several NGO’s in Luxembourg, which are sending volunteers to different parts of the world. I wanted to live for some months in a completely different culture and experience another lifestyle, that’s why it was sure to look for a project far away from home. 

I got to know the “Athénée-Action humanitaire asbl”, the Luxembourgish NGO which is sending volunteers to South Africa to work at the “Bonnie People Project” in Bonnievale. When I learned more about this project, my decision was taken quickly and I decided to come to South Africa for about 7 months. 

Bonnie People Project 
“Bonnie People Project” is where I worked the last 5 months and a half, and where I got to know a lot of lovely people and the greatest kids of the world! 
In the morning, there is a crèche for kids from 18months-5years and in the afternoon, the older kids are coming to spend their free time there. I had to help organizing the programs that we did, like arts and crafts, sports, going out for a hike, playing games, holding holiday programs and teaching them good values. These kids were so amazing and inspiring for me and we had a lot of fun together. This time was very precious for me and I learned so much about them, myself, working with youth and so much more. 

How I came to CWBR
When I was still in Luxembourg, some people from the organization told me about the CWBR (Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve) and they advised me to spend some time also there because they really liked this project, too. So I decided to spend my last month here in Franschhoek to get to know this interesting ecological project better and work in a completely different section.

So this is where I am now and even after my first week, I discovered quickly that there is much more behind the scenes and I’ve got already a very positive impression. All the people that I met, that are involved here, are so passionate about what they are doing and this really affects you with enthusiasm.

The CWBR is a big area in the Western Cape, where they try to promote biological biodiversity, sustainable development and logistic support. In other words, they are trying to improve the living together of the human beings and the nature in different ways.

For me, the CWBR has got very nice ideas and aims, because there are just too many people living unconsciously about the consequences of ignoring nature. And personally, I can also learn a lot here and discover more about the great South African nature

So, this is about where my idea of volunteering came from and what I did and experienced until now here in South Africa. I am really looking forward to spending my last time here in the beautiful Franschhoek and supporting this great project in the CWBR. 

Celine MacdonaldVolunteer