With their home located near the SPCA in Grassy Park, Jeanette and Benjamin Jodamus provide a great base for animal care as well as other Projects Abroad volunteers in Cape Town.
After working with Projects Abroad for almost two years, the special host family treats volunteers like their own children, affording them the independence of an “open home” in which they can see to themselves as they please.
Although the Jodamus’s house boasts a separate section for volunteers, they spend a lot of their time with the volunteers, enjoying barbecues, lengthy conversations and all means of cultural exchange. “We love listening to all their travel stories,” says Jeanette, adding that she never tires of learning about new ways of life.
Jeanette and Benjamin view their role as holistic – providing not only basic care such as housing and food, but also the necessary psychological care for a young person in a foreign country. “Everyone has a story,” says Jeanette. “For some reason volunteers seem to trust us with theirs,” she continues, adding that she has spent many a night sharing tears and advice with the volunteers she has hosted. “We almost act as counsellors,” adds Benjamin, “but we really love it because we know that we have uplifted the lives of many young people, in our own way,” he continues.
On a lighter note, it is important for Jeanette and Benjamin that the volunteers have fun whilst staying with them. “Sometimes they wake us up when they arrive late from a night on the town, but we just laugh at their antics and go back to sleep,” laughs Jeanette. “There’s always laughter in our home when there are ...
A highlight for us this year has been watching the progress of six-year-old Nicolas Gerk, son of German volunteer Julia Gerk and our youngest 'volunteer' to date.
Although Julia and Nicolas began their experience as care volunteers, it was at a local primary school that Nicolas really started to flourish. We arranged for Julia to move over to the teaching project at the school, and Nicolas has completely come out of his shell, slotting into the preparatory students' daily program and forming friendships with children his age. It doesn't seem to matter to him that he speaks to them in German and that they answer in English!
Julia takes Nicolas to the surf project after school, where he frolics around on his board in the water.
It has been quite amazing to see how this German youngster has adapted so well to a South African routine that allows his mom to complete her volunteer responsibilities without having to worry about him.
It's great to know that we can cater for such a special duo. Keep up the great work, Julia and Nicolas!
Travelling to South Africa to engage in volunteer work seemed like the perfect adventure for 22-year-old politics student Emmanuelle Schach and her boyfriend Jorge.
The University of Geneva student spent three months volunteering at a primary school in Cape Town, teaching ballet classes whilst Jorge entertained the children on the sports field.
“I do three hours of ballet and modern dancing at home, and it keeps me sane,” she laughed. “I thought it pertinent to share such a liberating and expressive activity with those who really need to deal with as well as escape from their everyday realities,” she shared. “I enjoy sharing my passion but am not at a high enough level to teach in Switzerland,” she continued. “Working with the children here has been so great – all they want to do is dance like me, and it’s so touching,” she added.
Emmanuelle also attended English classes whilst in South Africa. “I wanted to improve my English but not in England or Australia like everyone else,” she explained. “I love the fact that Projects Abroad offers the opportunity to learn English and partake in a volunteer program,” she continued. “I could always write in English but now I can speak semi-fluently too – a skill I never thought I’d ever be able to master!” she enthused.
“Being a student and a teacher at once has been an enlightening experience,” she shared. “The children I worked with were of all different levels of education,” she continued. “Sometimes it was hard to discipline them but once I earned their respect it was magical,” she reminisced.
Swedish veterinary nurse Amanda Uppenberg really deserves the accolade of Volunteer of the Month for May.
Amanda became an invaluable member of the SPCA Horse Care Unit almost immediately, and by the time she was due to leave the staff started begging us not to take her away!
Alan Perrins, CEO of the SPCA, described Amanda as "head and shoulders above the rest", going so far as to call her "one of the best volunteers yet."
Volunteer Coordinator Juan August lamented the fact that she was leaving, fretting about what the team would do without her.
The head of the Horse Care Unit described Amanda as her "right hand woman" - an honour she has certainly never bestowed upon a volunteer.
Well done Amanda, and thank you for all the amazing work you did at your animal care project. We are proud to be associated with you.
When 27-year-old Gearoid Kingston heard his friends rave about their time with Projects Abroad in Southern Africa, the Irish physics graduate decided to spend his next holiday volunteering at the organisation’s conservation project in Botswana and the teaching project in South Africa.
Gearoid found his time at the teaching project in Cape Town to be the most enjoyable. Although impressed by all the projects on offer in Cape Town, he chose the sports project because he plays a lot of sport back home and wanted to teach the children at his placement school some new types of sports and skills.
Gearoid found the schooling system in South Africa to be very different from that back home. “There are far more children in each class, and most of them come from very difficult backgrounds,” he observed. “The schools don’t receive as much funding as those in Ireland and as a result their resources and facilities are not on par with international standards,” he added.
That being said, Gearoid cited the children’s enjoyment of the few resources to which they are exposed as moving and admirable. “They really make the most of what they’ve got,” he shared.
Gearoid conducted weekly physical education lessons with the students of each grade of the primary school. “The children always look forward to their PE classes,” he enthused.
Gearoid integrated further into the community by living with a host family in the area. “I couldn’t imagine living with virtual strangers back home, but everybody in South Africa is so warm and welcoming,” he shared. “From my wonderful host family to the teachers who would always stop to talk to me at ...
Visit Our Main Sites
Be Our Friend