Amanda Leemis has taken initiative at her care project, by starting dance classes for the children at her creche. It's been really special having her as a source of love and support for these children, while they express themselves through dance. Thank you, Amanda! Take some time to watch the video of Amanda and the children in action.
Building, 3 months. Nationality: Irish
Having always felt drawn to South Africa, Conor Ford (19) took the opportunity of a gap year, and decided to come to Cape Town with Projects Abroad to do something really worthwhile; the Building Project.
Arriving alone, and with no building experience, Conor wasn’t sure what to expect. Under the guidance of Projects Abroad’s building manager, Deen Singh, Conor has helped build another phase of an eco-friendly community centre – a first of its kind in the township of Overcome Heights.
Conor used his eagerness to learn, positive nature and motivation to get the most out of his project, and it didn’t take long before everyone heard about this great volunteer at the building site. Conor has been involved with the community around his project, interacting with the children and getting to know the local residents.
“It has been such a great experience, making new friends, laying a few bricks, mixing some cement and building myself into a better person - well, a little better at least!” – Conor
We loved having Conor at our project, and he is an inspiration to anyone coming to volunteer. There is no doubt he is a true Volunteer of the Month
Above: Conor on the building site.
Human Rights, 2 months. Nationality: Thai
Having finished her first year of Law at the University of Queensland, Kitty (25) wanted to gain some experience in her field. In her two months at the project, she has become an outstanding addition to the staff and is one of the few that has ever received a ‘commendation’ award.
At the Human Rights project, Kitty has had the opportunity to take on multiple responsibilities for both the Legal Services and Social Justice divisions. Kitty has been responsible for legal research as well as client consultations, drafting legal opinions and law investigations for cases that involve refugee, child custody and Human Rights violation issues. Furthermore, she attended legal clinics in local townships and has assisted our Human Rights lawyer in preparing for court. “The days I got to spend at court were truly amazing”, says Kitty.
The experience at the Human Rights Office has helped Kitty prepare for her future: “I learnt so much from this project that it is hard to put into words. There were always new challenges to face and was always more to learn. My ultimate goal is to work for the United Nations and this entire experience was exactly what I needed”, she says.
PAHRO’s Legal Service Coordinators Maria and Sanjay were so impressed by Kitty’s work they gave her ‘commendation’, the highest award you can receive from the Human Rights Project. We are grateful for her dedication and great participation in the project, she is a true Volunteer of the Month!
Head of Global Information Office – Mark Wijsman
Below: Kitty working on some legal cases.
Teaching and Human Rights, 3 months. Nationality: UK
Harriet Perks, 18, joined us for two months to volunteer at one of our teaching projects, and one month at our Human Rights project.
At Hyde Park Primary she had the opportunity to teach different classes, either as an assistant to the teacher, as a co-teacher with other volunteers or as an independent teacher with her own class. Besides the standard subjects like English, mathematics and geography, Harriet took the initiative to teach some subjects of her own, including French and drama. Because of her positive attitude, endless energy and the tremendous support from the local staff Harriet has grown into a confident and skilled teacher. She has shown great interaction with the children, and created a personal bond with all of them. Harriet has been able to teach them so much in such a short amount of time, and has been a wonderful contribution to the school. At the Human Rights office, she used all that energy to become a wonderful asset to the team, and make a long lasting impression.
Harriet has been an amazing volunteer, and I think we all wished she stayed a lot longer. Thank you Harriet, you are a true Volunteer of the Month!
Human Rights, 3 months. Nationality: UK
Stories went around the staff that the Human Rights office had an absolute star in their hands; in the words of Social Justice Coordinator Shuan Solomons: “Ben is good at everything he does.”
With some volunteers arriving with their law educated minds to the Human Rights office, Ben came without any experience in this field. Recently graduated from high school in St. Bee’s, Cumbria, Ben’s interest in law drew him to his project, and he wanted to gain the most knowledge during his stay. His enthusiasm for law made him an excellent addition to the Human Rights team, and shortly after his arrival stories of Ben’s efforts reached all staff members of Projects Abroad. He started off helping with legal cases, was thrown in the deep end, but he relished the opportunity to learn new things. Twelve weeks later, Ben considers himself an expert on South African Refugee Law, and has helped over 30 clients. Ben noticed that with his initiative and diligence he received great responsibilities and reward.
His efforts are a great contribution to the Human Rights project, and for that reason he received the ‘high distinction’ from the PAHRO staff, which will be a helpful attribute to his undoubtedly successful career in law. On top of that, Ben is a well-deserving Volunteer of the Month! Congratulations!
Head of Information – Mark Wijsman
Above: Ben working on some of the legal cases
Below: Ben on a Social Justice project - Bonnytoun fun day
“Her knowledge and expertise really made a difference in our animal clinic” – Juan August, SPCA Volunteer Supervisor.
Kathleen Schulze came to Cape Town as an experienced veterinary assistant from Germany, hoping to gain work experience and use her knowledge from her home country to assist the SPCA animal care project. SPCA is the oldest animal welfare organization in South Africa. The organization covers a vast area, approximately 11 000km2 and looks out for the interests of domestic, farm, working and traction animals, animals reared for consumption, wildlife, animals used for entertainment and exhibitions, as well as animals used in sport and for research.
During her time at SPCA, Kathleen worked fulltime in the Animal Clinic, where she monitored the work being done in the clinics and the operating theatre. Kathleen started off with the pre-medicine, providing animals with necessary medication ahead of their operation and shaving them in case the animal was going to need surgery. She assisted with the anaesthesia and was a full-time assistant at the operation theatre.
Because of her experience, Kathleen was able to assist on all aspects at SPCA, and had a great deal of responsibilities at the Animal Clinic and for the operation process. Despite there being 104 staff members at SPCA, Kathleen managed to become a valuable member in the SPCA team in a short period of time. Her dedication and work effort have been tremendous in the two months at her project, with her often working longer hours than volunteers are expected to.
“She always showed great enthusiasm and was keen to assist wherever we needed her. She is confident, well-spoken and has shown great pride in her work”, praised her supervisor.
Kathleen found her volunteer work at SPCA to be incredibly valuable, since she was able to gain a lot of work experience as a veterinarian assistant. According to Kathleen, she enjoyed the increased amount of responsibility she had, the amount of work that was being done on a daily basis and the speed thereof, and mostly the support and friendliness of the local staff.
We are happy to hear Kathleen had such a wonderful learning experience at SPCA, and we are delighted she has made such a great impact at the organization with her expertise and work effort. Plenty reasons to award Kathleen “Volunteer of the Month” for February! Congratulations Kathleen, you deserve it!
- Mark Wijsman, Head of Information Office
(Village Care Centre)
Charlotte came to Cape Town as part of a 6 month trip with Projects Abroad in Southern Africa: 3 months care in Cape Town and 3 months conservation in our project based in Botswana just across the South African border, as I write this she is currently volunteering there.
Whilst in Cape Town, Charlotte was based at one of our most challenging placements the Village Care Centre. This is a facility for children aged between 5 – 18 years who come from families that are very underprivileged and whose parents have to work long and hard hours at quite low paying jobs in order to survive. A lot of the young people who go the center have left school early due to various reasons. It’s a challenging environment and often there are sensitive issues that volunteers may have to deal with.
It is perhaps unsurprising then that it took Charlotte a little while to adapt to her placement and look to observe where she could really make a worthwhile contribution. During our inductions Aaron will often mention that it can take a while to learn how a placement really works and that you really do get out of it what you put in.
Charlotte was a great example of someone who really took this advice on board and it paid dividends. She made effort to sit down with the project Supervisor Mary Lottriet and the placements social worker, Denise Booyster and explained that she really was keen to get involved. She took time to assist where possible with team meetings, helping to take the minutes, offering to assist where help was needed and being willing to lead workshops and focus on the weekly plans involved.
Often she would come into the office and share with the team the work that she had been involved with. She spoke with passion and regularly came into our office to print out resources for activities to use at her placement. She was relied on for new ideas and a fresh way of thinking; she helped with the structure of the weekly activities and exchanged ideas (culturally) with the children and staff. Her placement supervisor told me before she left that she was looking for a car and a boyfriend for Charlotte in a last attempt to convince her to stay. Indeed, by the time Charlotte left Cape Town she had led or was involved with a number of awareness workshops on topics such as drugs, health, life skills and cases of abuse. She helped with trips to the beach for surfing outings and picnics as well a number of other activities that took place during the Christmas Holiday project. She took on board advice from the staff and was polite and respectful to all those she worked with. It’s clear they have all really missed her.
When explaining her highs she described them as the cultural exchange and the possibility to undertake a variety of different activities. She said that future volunteers “should not be scared bring new ideas and ways of doing things, be proactive in helping to create topics and with the structure.” Essentially she led by example and was a great role model for our other volunteers.
It was also the little things that really made her stand out. She was incredibly close to her host family and really became like another family member as she joined them on their Christmas Beach Trip. During her last week she came in with flowers twice, not for us (the second time we teased her that it was a bit rude), but for her host mother who she had really created a close bond. For her placement when we visited just over a week ago we were shown some pictures of the Christmas holiday picnic. In the background you could see Charlotte with all the kids. It was a highlight of the holiday period for a number of the children and all the pictures had been bought and left by Charlotte for them to remember. It was an accumulation of these small instances where Charlotte went above and beyond that made her stand out as a consistently positive and hard working volunteer, setting a great example for others and therefore being awarded the title of Volunteer of the Month.
Country Director: Andrew Fryer
From the moment I spoke with Jack for his pre-departure phone call, I knew he was going to be a great volunteer: he was friendly, enthusiastic and polite. With his attitude of ‘no worries Laura, I’ll go wherever I’m needed and do whatever I’m told’,
I knew we were onto a winner!
When you first meet Jack, you’re instantly impressed by his people skills and positive attitude. He’s the kind of person you want to hang out with. In addition to his all-round enthusiasm and friendliness, Jack has been a top volunteer at both the Building and Surf Projects. He comes highly recommended by our Building Manager Deen, who instantly knew he could rely on Jack to motivate other volunteers and take the lead when required. In Deen’s words, “Jack is a true example of a volunteer. He is unselfish, always accommodating other volunteers with his kind and caring ways. He is dedicated, hardworking, and respectful and was a pleasure to have on the building team.”
Where Jack has really impressed us is by showing incredible patience and willingness to help during the transition in surfing projects. He was really helpful in providing information and the most recent updates to the Newlands staff – something which Aaron and Andy were very grateful for. He was instrumental in the initiation of the new project with Cass Collier, professional surfer and 2000 Big Wave World Champion. We were lucky to have been able to rely on Jack during this transition as his feedback and insight helped shape the success of the new surf project we have now.
As well as being a real ‘trooper’ at both his projects, Jack was a pleasure to have in the office as an incredibly diplomatic volunteer and someone who you can have a good laugh with. He was also a regular at many of the Projects Abroad socials. We’d like to thank Jack for being a great volunteer and for all his help in the projects where he worked. His effortless ‘can-do’ approach was much appreciated by all of us and we wish him all the best for the future.
Desk Officer & Program Advisor: Laura Gent
Edward came to the Human Rights Office as part of the six week global gap year interns. To be very honest, when I first met them I was unsure how they were going to get on with the legal work because of their young age and inexperience in law and legal work. However, it soon became apparent that my apprehension was extremely misplaced. They were all absolutely great, and Edward was simply brilliant. What he lacked in experience he made up for in passion and a drive to get things done - which is exactly what he did.
The work he did for us here at PAHRO was of an exceptional standard considering the fact that he had absolutely no legal experience. He was a natural when it came to the legal work and although he expressed how his time here made him realize he did not want to be a lawyer, he did realize that he wants to help people in some way. He was my right hand man for PAHRO's first Refugee Appeal Board Hearing for which we represented a Zimbabwean client. He worked long and hard researching into the situation in Zimbabwe and collecting enough evidence to save our client from being sent back there where her life was in danger. His tireless energy, enthusiasm and empathy on this matter, as well as everything else he put his mind to, were second to none. In addition to his impressive casework, Edward helped us improve the office by creating an office manual as a point of reference for future volunteers. Never someone to sit back and do nothing, Edward was always offering to help the staff or take on more work whenever he found he had spare time. He developed a very positive working relationship with staff and volunteers alike and everyone who had the pleasure to meet him will remember him fondly. We only wish he did not have to leave so soon.
Edward you will be sorely missed and we are proud to call you our Volunteer of the Month for December 2011, you deserve it. We wish you all the best with the rest of your adventure and hope that you continue to help as many people as you did here.
Legal Services Coordinator: Sanjay Hora and Volunteer Supervisor: Gemma Hancox
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