Teresa Van Roey
Village Heights Community Centre)
Teresa Van Roey has displayed the true quality of a volunteer, to serve, uplift and share both the sorrow and the joy with the community unselfishly. Her strong, vibrant and friendly character together with her excellent communication skills and her confidence in taking the role of the most senior volunteer position, displaying a natural leadership style together with tolerance and humour and through this has achieved great things. The reason Teresa has been awarded ‘Volunteer of the Month’ is she has exemplified what it is to be a hard working, diligent volunteer. Furthermore, Teresa’s positive, enthusiastic and infectious personality has added to the excellent morale, warmth and the positive energy we have at the building site. Teresa’s added contribution to assisting the community in the building, education and welfare matters made a very positive mark on the lives of the community.
‘Teresa has taught my daughter, Jamie Lee some English lessons and my daughters marks have improved from 35 % to 60%’ Bernadine Thomas, mother of Jamie Lee.
‘Teresa has given me some counselling sessions on my personal family issue’s, as a result it has give me a positive way in dealing with my family’ Feroza, parent living in Village Heights.
‘Assisting in drawing up the resolution for registering as a NGO for Village Heights Community Centre, is immensely appreciated’ Bernadine Thomas, Main Member of the Village Heights Community Centre.
‘Contributing financially to our soup kitchen has assisted to feed more hungry stomachs in the community’ Bernadine Thomas, Cook at the food kitchen.
Teresa is a Belgium volunteer who is returning to study to be a teacher in Maths and English for the first four years of high school. She will study at the University of Ghent in Belgium.
Teresa was given the task to assist in building at Village Heights Community Centre, a very small community centre with no formal building structures. At this centre there are predominantly coloured community, situated in Village Heights in Lavender Hill. Most people here live in informal settlements where the homes are very run-down and have been made from low-cost materials such as corrugated iron, wood planks and anything that can be used to create shelter. Most people are either street vendors or domestic workers. The community itself enjoys a tight network of friends and family and is alive with love and a sense of togetherness, but unfortunately it suffers from problems such as domestic violence, drugs, alcoholism and HIV/AIDS.
With all these austere conditions Teresa had a big job on her hands, if she wanted to make a major change, she was immediately given the task to assist in the building of next phase (toilet and washing facility) of our proposed future building structures.
At first with very little confidence and with no past experience in buildings, it wasn’t long until Teresa was put in the deep end on the dirty Wednesday to be empowered to act as one of the site supervisors that brought out that determined qualities within her to make it happened on that day. At the building projects she had made us proud to keep that high standard of work and most of all a real team player. Her determination against all odds to work hard and give her best was outstanding and commendable.
Teresa has gone beyond her call of duty. She had undertaken numerous other smaller roles outside the buildings which made a huge impact on the lives of the community.
Teresa is an empowered leader, with a sensitive and positive attitude coupled with an enormous strength and eagerness to help wherever she’s been asked to by going the extra mile. With that positive energy and eagerness, we find her particularly deserving of the honour and title of our first ‘Volunteer of the month’.
Well done and keep it up! We are looking forward to you joining us again as a volunteer on future building projects at Projects Abroad, South Africa.
Manager Building: Deen Singh
I could almost see it on her face. I knew she could not imagine anything better than rolling herself in big hot, fuming elephant dong! Yes, I curiously watched a young lion cub making sure she got the dusty smell of fresh elephant faeces all over her body. Right there on a road side next to an open vehicle in the Krüger National Park. I was in the wild nature and I couldn’t help but feel a little nauseous.
Above: A young lioness enjoys herself rubbing in nice fresh elephant dong – mmmm!
I was aware that I was looking at an animal that had different sanitary needs than human beings and therefore I could understand and accept actions like rolling in pooh. This cub obviously wanted to smell like an elephant, since that will increase her opportunities of getting close to her next possible meal. Yet, the real nausea began when the guide took us for an early morning walk through the high bush grass and asked me to pick up an enormous piece of rhino pooh. ‘What is this?’ he kept asking. ‘It is shit,’ I answered, which obviously did not satisfy the khaki-dressed guide with a rifle hurled over his shoulder. ‘NO, this is a dong. This is not shit. This is a dong,’ he stated while pouring small round impala faeces into my hand. I was disgusted. DONG or not, you don’t touch pooh, you just don’t. No matter if it is ‘only grass’ and ‘not harmful to health at all’ – it came out of an ass.
Above: Our guide has just set alight a piece of elephant dong. You feel like inhaling?
A fantastic smell
The second guide found himself another fine example of a dropping, this time from an elephant. He set alight to a piece of it and he buried his nose in the smoking DONG and took a deep breath. Tears started running from his eyes as his face slowly relaxed again letting the white smoke escape through his nostrils. Then it was our turn and I watched with horror as my friend volunteered to stick her nose into elephant faeces and moreover for her to ask to do it once again, saying that it had a fantastic smell!
Above: Our guide takes a deep breath of elephant dong.
Above: I am shocked to see my friend volunteer smoke elephant faeces.
By the end of the day, she could still smell it in her nose and she loved it. The thought occurred quickly: did I miss out on something? Should I regret not smoking elephant faeces? It made me think, what was the actual reason I refused? Why didn’t I dare? I am sure Krüger guides don’t bring groups of naive tourist home with elephant dong poisoning every day. He said there were no health risks and they were actually used as medicine – why didn’t I believe him? Why was I afraid?
A friend and wife of my husband
A few days before, we had jumped on a minibus in Durban and headed to Swaziland. Besides numb legs, the eight-hour ride rewarded me with an encounter that I did not forget. Next to me sat a middle-aged Swazi woman who warmly introduced me to her home country. ‘You must come visit our village,’ she encouraged and was supported by her female friend, with whom she shared a husband.
The fact is she seemed one of the friendliest, relaxed and happy people I have ever met. How was that possible? How can you be happy knowing that your husband is sleeping in someone else’s bed? And how on earth can you be friends with that other woman? The questions have been on my mind ever since, but no answer occurred. The only thing I am able to conclude is that I simply can’t understand. No matter how hard I try, I can’t believe this woman could be happy. It is a fact that I could see she was, but I don’t think I will ever be able to understand why.
To me faeces are pooh – and you don’t touch pooh! To me a couple is defined by two people who are only with one another! To me several lovers equals pain. But now I come to wonder, why is that? Why is it painful? Is it in human nature? But if so, why wasn’t this lady hurt?
Do I simply abhor polygamy because I have grown up in a monogamous culture? Have I actually ever paid any attention to why polygamy is wrong? Why is it that I find it painful even thinking of a boyfriend being with another woman, when this lady holds hands with her husband’s other wife on the minibus? Is it possible that I simply don’t understand because it is different? When it comes down to it, what is really the cultural distinction between wrong and different? I don’t know. All I know is that I should have smoked that pooh – no sorry, I should have smoked that dong!
Text and images by Maja Vadum Larsen
Last week I was on holiday in the Tuli Block, Botswana. I popped in at the Conservation Project!
Ozzy Ozzy Ozzy!
The property where Legodimo is on used to be a cattle farm, so there are lots of cow bells around, which have been used to decorate the fences
Samantha, staff at the project, shows the volunteers how to do the Projects Abroad Conservation Olympics
And....they're off! Volunteers walk through the Olympics course, before getting down and dirty.
This is a donkey: every morning, volunteers need to light a fire if they want hot water for their outdoor shower.
View from the main camp onto the Limpopo River.
The main camp. The girls' dorms are on the right, then the kitchen, to the left of that is the lounge, and the boys' dorms are on the left.
Three Projects Abroad volunteers (including Tom Richell, who spent some time with us in Cape Town first!) and Gisela Madden (assistant director Projects Abroad Cape Town) behind a life-sized model of a white rhino head.
Recipe for a perfect road trip
(Garden Route, Jeffrey's Bay, Addo Elephant National Park)
• Good company (do not exaggerate with the amount of people)
• Lonely Planet Guide
• Coast to Coast (backpacker guide)
• Rental car
• Cooler box
• Good games to play during the journey
• Some beers (to drink just when you arrive!)
First of all it is necessary to make a good plan. If your carefree friend comes to you trying to involve you in a trip just saying 'Let's go on a trip to the Garden Route tomorrow!', guys that's not a plan! So, my suggestions are Lonely Planet and Coast to Coast (a convenient little free guide to backpacker/hostels in all South Africa). Get your hire car sorted, then off you go! During the trip it is essential to propose games to play on the drive. Our favourite was guessing the Disney character someone else thought. If you grew up with Disney animations, you'll have lot of choice!!
The cooler-box is another fellow-traveller that you can't forget! Try to think of all the situations in which it would be essential: braais, beach, sunset on the beach, sunset everywhere, to have a cold beer or drink whenever you want!!
If you like good food, Lonely Planet suggests a lot of nice restaurants to go for dinner, or if you prefer you can cook on your own in the hostel!! We had a great Lasagne night!!
The camera obviously needs to be with you all the time!! Have a look to some work my camera did!
Above: I know it sounds incredible, but this view is what I had next to me while I was eating a delicious tuna steak and awesome prawns at ‘Lookout’ in Plettenberg Bay!
Above: Plettenberg Bay, Robberg Peninsula.
Above: The wonderful Robberg Beach from the Robberg Peninsula.
Above: The Robberg Peninsula is a great place to braai and watch the sunset with a cold beer in your hand.
Above: This is definitely my favourite place – our really nice hostel in Jeffrey's Bay called ‘Beach Music’. A great balcony overlooking the Supertube Beach from where you can watch South Africa's best surfers, maybe surrounded by dolphins, excellent surfers as well!!
Above: Supertube, 'the world's most perfect wave'.
Above: Plettenberg Bay offers many activities, including canoeing on the wonderful and quiet Keurbooms River.
Above: From Jeffrey's Bay we went to Addo Elephant National Park, famous for the big amount of elephant but populated by many other animals like this Leopard Turtle.
Above: The Addo Elephant National Park was founded in 1931 to save the few elephants left in the region. At that time, there were only 16 animals, now the park counts 550 elephants so it is impossible not to meet at least one of them.
Above: Zebras are one of the most common animals into Addo, but these two, while they are cleaning each other, they seemed to be posing for us!
Above: Addo Elephant National Park is the third largest South African national park. It is 180,000 hectares large and includes the Bird and St Croix Islands group.
Above: Lions also live in the park – together with rhinos, buffaloes, elephants and leopards, they make up the famous Big Five, but in Addo, including coast line, you can see the Big Seven: whales and sharks as well.
Above: Kudus are another of the most common species found in Addo. You can recognise them by their stripes and by the particular horn the males have.
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