The Centre for Creative Education (CCE) is involved from the start; interviewing interested candidates, processing applications, placing approved candidates at a host site, organising accommodation, as well as providing transport to and from host sites daily, Monday to Friday. Transport is organised from the CCE campus and back.
WHAT TO EXPECT
During their time in South Africa, volunteers live with housemates for the period of their volunteer service. They share a communal living space and co-ordinate the sharing of a motor vehicle.
Volunteers attend weekly isiXhosa language classes, as well as Craft sessions where toys and equipment for their host sites are either made or repaired. At the Craft sessions they learn to make soft toys such as felt balls, dolls, animals, and they make hanging mobiles, wooden toys, and also pillows, blankets as are needed.
Currently host sites are Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres (kindergartens/educare preschools), a special-needs care centre, and Zenzeleni Centre for Creative Education.
These sites are situated in low-income areas of the greater Cape Town area including Mitchells Plain, Manenberg, Delft, Philippi West, Nyanga East, Mfuleni, and various parts of Khayelitsha. Staff at these sites care for and educate children and youth, most of them from families with household incomes below the breadline.
At the host sites volunteers assist regular staff with various tasks, dependent on the site where they are placed. Tasks at an ECD site include assisting with the running duties each day:
Volunteers at the primary school may also be required to assist with class exercises, tests, helping with extra-lesson support if they have the skills, crafts, sports activities, library tasks, administration tasks and helping to compile reports for sponsor donors. Volunteers at the special-needs care centre do similar tasks and may work with both young children and youth.
The ECD centres where volunteers are hosted are connected to the CCE through staff who have done, or are doing, either formal or informal ECD training through the college.
Volunteers learn how to engage with people from different cultural groups, working in circumstances that are far removed from their own life experiences, often taking on tasks for which they previously had little knowledge or experience. They take back to their country all they have learnt and communities in their home country benefit from their learnt experiences.
Volunteers meet regularly with the CCE staff and are offered mentorship support as needed.
For the hosts there are many benefits for having a volunteer: helping to care for and educating children under challenging circumstances, engaging with young people who are keen to learn, and generally making a difference. Children benefit greatly from the experience of receiving caring attention from people from different backgrounds – something they might otherwise seldom or even never experience.