Vacay in SA

Between the 5th to the 12th of January I took my first week of holiday leave. I was supposed to be heading to Lesotho with other Project Trust volunteers but unfortunately I wasn’t able to go. Instead I made some last minute plans, had a great week off and saw some really beautiful parts of the Western Cape.

On the first day me, Magdalena, Ronja and Irene went to the West Coast National Park. This was my second time there but it didn’t disappoint. It was an incredibly hot day. We drove to the rock pools where I climbed across the rocks to get a good spot to watch how the waves crashed into them.

Then we headed to the lagoon. The water is so clear and warmer than the ocean. It wasn’t very deep and took a long walk to get far enough to swim. The beach is stunning and usually very quiet.

The sun was so strong that day I came home with burns all over my back, shoulders and back of my legs. Have you ever had sunburn on the back on your knees? If not I hope you never have to endure the pain.

On the 7th and 8th I sat majority of both days with the older girls whilst one of them braided my hair. It was painful and very very long. But so worth it. I haven’t had hair as long as that in atleast 3 years and it felt so good.

I loved my braids and felt more like me than I have since I’ve been here. I’ve lost of sense of my unique style I had at home so this gave me a real sense of individuality.

On the 9th myself, Timo, Benedikt and Leon all went to the casino near by. We played a game of laser quest and i have to say I am very proud of myself. I was 5th out of everyone and had beaten the boys by a long shot as they came 12th, 13th and 15th. After we played in the arcade for a while. I managed to collect enough tokens to win myself some glow in the dark glasses, some sweets and a brother bear folder. These were to add to my tiara I previously won. I may almost be 20 but my inner child clearly does not know that at all.

From the 10th to the 12th I went on a road trip with Benedikt and Leon. On the first day we travelled to Hermanus and spent the day at the beach there. The tide was out and the waves were strong. The amount of times I was almost couldn’t resist pushing a child off their boogie board to have a go myself.

In the evening we bought a bottle of lemon vodka. We played pool at the Cape Aghulas Backpackers before playing a drinking game Leon found on his phone. I think it’s safe to say we all got the drunkest we have been since we got here.

The next morning we headed to Cape Aghulas, the most southern point of Africa and where the Atlantic and Indian ocean meet.

A small drove further along we found an old shipwreck. One of the guys said it was a Japanese shipwreck from the 1800s.

The rest of the day we spent at the beach only 5 minute walk from the backpackers. In the evening we played pool again. The backpackers had a bunch of dogs. They would run to the pool table when you put a coin in. One actually jumped up and grabbed a ball a few times during our games.

The next day was our last day of the trip. We checked out and I said goodbye to Polly to parrot, another pet at the backpackers. We headed to De Hoop Nature Reserve. On the way we rescued a tortoise from being squished by a 4×4. We saw flamingos, ostriches and a dead bok on the drive into the nature reserve. The bok was collapsed next to the road and we were sure the leopards at the reserve would get to it sooner or later.


We spent the entire day at the nature reserve at their beach. I bet you beginning to see a pattern. We got to the beach just before high tide. The waves were huge.

I went swimming and the waves pulled you so far out to sea and then literally threw you right back to shore. It was really fun. Leon began shouting for me loads and I begrungedly got out and asked him what was wrong. He had spotted something big in the water next to me. He said it must have been a seal. I sat and watched the waves for a while until I spotted a the tail of what only could have been a seal splashing in the waves. As amazing as that is, if there are seals the sharks will be close by so I decided to not go back in.

It was a long drive back but made fun with some old music from all our childhoods. As great as the time away from the children was I was so excited to get back and see them.

I am hoping to get another road trip in during the Easter holidays to see more of what South Africa has to offer.

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Why I Love South Africa

South Africa is a country which is so varied and diverse it is actually hard to imagine until you have been here. SA is called the Rainbow Nation and for good reason. It is a multicultural country which takes pride in being so diverse. Parts of South Africa have such a strong traditional African vibe whilst others parts feel very westernised and modern. Living in Cape Town is incredible as I feel there is the perfect balance of both.

I also love South Africa for a more obscure reason which I never thought would even be something that made an impact on me. This is the water. Water has become my obsession since I have been here. The beaches are beautiful. The ocean is clear. The waves come crashing into rocks. Some days here the eaves are so high and crazy. If you like surfing this is your paradise. But if you prefer calmer water the lagoons are incredible. The water is warmer, and so clear me and a few others thought it was lakewater Not to mention how diverse the marine life is. My first day at a beach ended amazingly. We were waiting for sunset when suddenly we saw a whale. It was huge! Thinking of it now I had never actually seen a whale before. You can go to aquariums but you won’t see whales there, well not in the UK at least.

If I could describe South Africa in one colour it would be blue. There is usually not a cloud in the sky. The sun is bright and strong. It gives you such a warm feeling everyday waking up to beautiful sunshine no matter where you are.

The people is South Africa are so friendly. Growing up near London and probably taken the tube hundreds of time I’ve grown up not speaking to people in public. It is the complete opposite here. Every single person acknowledges you here. Whether it is a wave, a nod, a hello. They will smile and acknowledge you. Random people will help you in the supermarket on silly things like what packet of chips to buy. It’s so heartwarming that people can be so lovely to each other. 

But what I love about South Africa most of all is that the people know who they are and are not ashamed of it. No one pretends to be something they are not. South Africa is still developing and changing for better all the time. It’s amazing to be here and witness it whilst it happens. 

DAY ZERO

Ever since I arrived in South Africa I’ve known there was a drought in the Western Cape. As the months have gone on the dam levels have decreased rapidly. After 1 month of being here I saw a sign on the motorway saying there was 36% water in the dams left.

Now just before we go into the hottest month of the year in Cape Town we have 6% of water left. Over the last few months the government has raised the restrictions on water and constantly changed an extremely vague date of when there will be no water left. About a week ago they released a report that the date is set for Day Zero at 22nd April. Only 3 days later that date was brought forward to the 12th April. This just shows how unsure the government is and this date will most likely carry on being brought forward.

As the news of the water crisis spreads across the world I think the true panic is starting to really set in for the locals here. Today I went to the supermarket to get two 5L bottles of water for emergency. Unfortunately this is what I found at the super market.

Yvonne, our host has created a ‘Survival Kit’ of cleaning and hygiene products to reduce our water usage, which should be 50L per day from February onwards (including flushing the toilet which uses 20L every flush due to the old systems at the children’s home). The survival kit includes using baby powder rather than washing your hair, buckets to catch shower water from the drain to flush the toilets, vinegar and newspaper to wash our dishes, and the list goes on.

Every time someone goes to the beach we will be taking sea water in buckets to use for showering. Although within days I’m sure this will be stopped and police will be guarding the beaches.

I never expected to experience this is South Africa when I applied or even after doing my research and preparing to pack. I maybe could imagine going to a well and carrying water but the concept that there is no drinkable water is crazy.

There will be water stations coming from other sources where you can collect 25L per day per person from. However if one person from a family (on average 4 people per family) went to the collection points each day, there would 5,000 people waiting in queues to collect their water everyday. Unfortunately for volunteers is that we won’t be allocated this water as we are not citizens and have not yet been considered by the government on what will happen to us.

The impact of Day Zero is going to huge. People will die of dehydration. Businesses will shut down. People will lose their jobs. Unemployment rates will rise sky high. More people will be forced to live in townships. Food prices will rise. Families will starve. Elderly and children will not be able to queue for water and will have to rely on others. People will turn to crime for water. There will be riots. There will be people breaking into homes to steal water. Cape Town will suffer immensely.

All I can do is try to cut back on my water usage everyday and be thankful I have a home in a country where this is not happening. I do not have a family relying on me to get water and keep a job. After I return in August the locals will still face the aftermath of Day Zero.

The UK and every other country there isn’t a water crisis have also caused this to happen in South Africa. There has never been a water crisis here. This is the affect of Global Warming and Climate Change. EVERYONE NEEDS TO START TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PLANET WE LIVE ON.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Life here is becoming a lot easier. Although just as you start to settle here something else happens that throws you back in the deep end. Whether that be a new job role, new volunteers arriving, old volunteers leaving, new children arriving, school leavers leaving the grounds to start their new lives, children coming and going for holidays or the big swap around of rooms that is coming up this month. 

December was a hectic crazy month. Looking back I feel like I was working almost all the time. Other than working the usual shifts there was so much extra work to give the children an amazing holiday. First was the Christmas party. This was on the 2nd of December. It was held early as a lot of the children go home for the holidays so we had an early christmas all together. One of the child care workers dressed up as Santa and handed presents to all the children. There was over 500 presents put under the Christmas tree and there was even more dropped off throughout the month. We must have been moving boxes of presents to the hall for atleast 2 hours. We had a dinner with all 155 children and the child care workers in the hall. At times it was chaos but it was a lovely meal. 

Only a fraction of all the presents donated

I went to 4 Christmas Concerts in total which were all brilliant. The best thing was seeing their cute faces when they spot you in the crowd. I missed out on one concert because I was too sick to go and I was so so gutted. Although the girls showed me their dances before they went and let me film them. So really I got my own private concert from them. 

One of the many Christmas Concerts

I spent a huge chunk of my time this month making bracelets for the children with their names on. I managed to get over 40 done before Christmas and I still have so many more to make. 

Bracelet 10384938th?

One week before Christmas it was announced that the outside company organising Christmas for the children had cancelled. The volunteer department held a meeting and we came to the agreement to work on Christmas and try to give the kids the best Christmas we could. There was a lot of extra work for this. Although a lot didn’t go to plan the children still had a great day. We spent a whole day organising that each child got 2 presents each aswell as a box filled with crisps and sweets. On Christmas Eve me and a few other volunteers went to each house putting the presents out ready for the morning. On Christmas morning I went to the infants at 7 and watched them open their presents. Their little faces were filled with so much happiness.

Santa’s Elves (aka international volunteers) working hard at 2am

 They then went to church while we stayed behind setting up for the day. Once they were all back we played some games with them. One was very rough and you had to tackle each other to the ground. It was really so good to see all the kids of different ages all involved in a game together. I was thrown to the ground by a herd of preteen boys. But I made a lucky escape just after. 

For lunch we had ham, salad, potato salad and believe it or not cow tongue. It was a very weird feeling eating it. I was sitting by 2 of the child care workers, one of whom said she loved cow tongue and was watching closely to see my reaction. On the inside I was screaming ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’s but on the outside I swallowed it and wincingly smiled and said it was strange but nice. Luckily one of the kids sneakily helped me finish. After the lunch I sat for hours painting as many faces as I could with their choice of character/animal. They all loved the temporary tattoos also. Days later some still had it on saying they’d washed around it trying to keep it as long as possible.

In the evening we had hung a curtain outside by the braii area and used the projector to create and open air cinema. We watched Happy Feet all wrapped up in blankets until it was too cold to bear any longer. 

Each day has a different activity for the children as it’s the school holidays. Most days it is swimming in the pool which is always fun. Other activities are have dance/lip sync battles. Recently we  went to the beach with all the children. Even the naughtiest of  children were on such good behaviour as it was such a treat. Just before it was time to leave a huge wave came in to shore. We must have been 15 meters from the tide yet this wave managed to come swooping in, soaking my towel, shorts and almost swallowed up my bag. At this very moment I was facing away from the sea taking a photo. My natural instinct was to grab my bag and get up as my camera and speaker was in my bag, by doing this I dropped my phone into the puddle of sea water in my lap. Luckily everything survived. 

I had a few days off inbetween Christmas and New year’s and I went to spend time with the other Project Trust volunteers who were visiting Cape Town. It felt so good to have a little break from the children’s home but I noticed I spoke about my kids so much I probably bored them all to death. I hadnt seen most since orientation back in September and the others since Training in July. It was crazy how much some had changed. A lot of baby faces had turned into fully matured ones in just the 4 months we’ve been abroad. I wonder how different I look to them and how different I’ll look to my family when I come home in August. 

On one of the days we room a boat trip a long the coast starting at the V&A Waterfront.

The highlight of seeing the PT vols was going up to Table Mountain. The view was insane and we had such a laugh taking ‘candid’ shots. 

I have finished work today and now ready for my scheduled leave of one week. Hopefully some great adventures will be had and if not atleast I’ll have had some much need relaxation. 

Its Beginning To Look A Lot Like… Christmas In Summer?

So almost 10 weeks ago I landed in Cape Town and was welcomed at DCH. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences. 

I’ve really built some friendships with the children, child care workers and volunteers here. It hasn’t been easy at all and at times I have been pining to come home. Every day sees a new challenge to face leading to a new lesson learnt also. I haven’t written a blog post since my last as it’s been hard to talk about and I couldn’t find the words to put it into a post. It is still hard but I feel I owe it to all my sponsors and supporters to let them in on what life here really is like. 

Living in an instution whether it’s by choice or not is extremely difficult. The fact that I live and work in the same instution makes it all even harder. On days off duty you’re never really off duty. My phone has become my enemy with messages everyday to come to different meetings or help to do extra tasks. Luckily we live so close to such an awesome city that when we have a day off and plan to go out, we’re not far from such amazing sites and great things do to. 

Me and Moritz at West Coast National Park
Natural Pool in Eselbank, Cederberg
Me and Leon with my favourite rock defying gravity in Cedarberg Mountains
12 apostles from Oudekraal
Table Mountain from Blouberg Beach

As Christmas is drawing closer so is the summer season. The weather is starting to get hotter on the hot days. Although on the cold days it can be really cold and windy. We pray for rain and recently the prayers have been answered. Cape Town is experiencing the worst water crisis in over 100 years. Currently we’re at the highest stage of the water restriction and public toilets are beginning to be locked. There are 3 phases in which the water will be turned off. Phase 1 is in place (water restrictions aka random times with no running water) and it seems phase 2 (no running water majority of the time, have to collect water from collection points) will follow shortly. The local gym is now refusing members to use the toilets, sinks and showers. It won’t be long before there’s no drinkable water left in the dams. Although this seems extremely daunting it’s something that not many people in Europe can say they’ve had to experience and overcome.

Recently, one volunteer flew home as he couldn’t cope with living here especially due to his mental health issues arising again. A volunteer from Project Trust, Lisa, who I flew here with, lived with and worked with is also flew home a few days later. No matter how close I am to any of the volunteers it is a shame that they are flying home. The international volunteers here a bit like a big family. We are foreigners making us almost outsiders but together we come together as one. Although living, working and socialising with the same people it almost feels like we’ve been placed in the Big Brother house. But I suppose what can you expect from living in an institution.

Since I arrived I pretty much did solely dayshift. First in the youngest children’s house and then after the second youngest children’s house. For the whole of Novemeber I have been doing night shift which I am glad for. Dayshift is great for bonding with the children but it is very demanding and draining. Night shift is the perfect time to sit and reflect on my time here, write in my diary, and get odd bits and pieces done.

School Run
Outing to the local library
Movie day

During my time of reflection I have noticed how much I have changed from the person I was a few years ago and even a few months ago. Since moving to Eastbourne and meeting my boyfriend I have become a better person. I have also noticed since I moved to South Africa that the world is a much bigger place than I once thought it was. British people stereotypically are very polite but also very reserved. One quality I’ve realised I don’t like about the British society is that we think we can cope by doing things alone. It is hard to find a sense of community in Britain. Whereas there is such a strong sense of community here wherever you go. 

It is also optional to chose to learn another language in Britain. If you do happen to speak a second language you are seen as very intelligent and really admired. People across the world speak their own language aswell as others in order to be able to communicate to others, many learning English. The German and Dutch volunteers can all speak English to such a high standard and yet they believe their English isn’t that good. The same goes for the South Africans here. They all speak English and Afrikkans. In schools they also have to learn a 3rd language. They learn Xhosa and German for 6 months each and then chose which to study further and take an exam on in their final year of school. 

Next month I have a mix of working on dayshift, night shift and working in the office which is new. Everyone is preparing for Christmas and all the decorations are already up. I’ve been to 2 school Christmas concerts and will be attending another on Thursday. I feel like such a proud mum at these concerts as these children don’t have anyone else coming to visit them except the volunteers and sometimes their child care worker. I can tell Christmas here will be nothing like one I’ve ever experienced before and one I will probably never experience again. So all I can do is enjoy every moment and embrace the South African summer festivities. 

A Challenging Few Weeks

Since my last post a lot has happened it such little time. I’ve been at my project for 3 weeks and I am starting to feel like I am finding my feet. It sank in within the last few days where I am and this is my life for the next 11 months, not just here for a summer camp or anything like that. 

Let me start by explaining not many people are the children’s home are happy to have new volunteers. The home gets up to 40 volunteers each year who stay from between 6 months to a year and most arrive in September. With the arrival of us British volunteers, there’s 20 volunteers, all have no idea what we are doing. This is extremely stressful for the child care workers who we assist in day to day tasks. On my first shift one child care worker was rather abrupt and left me on the verge of tears in my break. I began to think why have I done this to myself for a whole year??? I was very polite and tried my hardest all day to be as helpful as I could. By the end of the shift she thanked me for my help and it made me feel a lot better. After a few days and having done another day shift with that child care worker, I heard from my boss that she had said to how much potential I had. Simple things like that have made the hard times so worth it. But you must realise she is just one of many child care workers I need to earn respect from. 

It is also very difficult to earn the respect from the children. I have worked solely in Happy Feet (houses that consist of children aged 2 – 6). These children are probably the most trusting immediately and yet even then most take a while to warm to you. They told me how much they missed old volunteers, groaned when they knew it was a new volunteer on shift and really pushed their luck. They know exactly what they are and are not allowed to do. Yet try their hardest to get away with all sorts because they know you are new and don’t know the rules as well as them. So far I’ve learned I have to be firm with the children but also sympathetic with them. Within the three weeks I’ve learned a few of the children’s pasts. I can’t go into detail but it really broke my heart. No matter how challenging the child is they did not do anything to deserve the hand they were dealt. But the children’s home focuses on indiviual growth as well as growth as an institution. I attended a meeting which explained their finances and where it was spent which was incredibly interesting as it showed the extent of the development even within a few years. I have so many great photos of me and the children but unfortunately for their safety none are allowed to be posted on social media. 

However I have been out and about and seen some awesome sights. So far I’ve been to Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope and saw some sharks in the water below, Clifton Beach and saw a whale, the V&A Waterfront, Bo-Kapp, Signall Hill, spent an evening at Ocean View Drive and been to the notorious pool bar nearby, the legendary Stones. 






I will conclude this blog post by informing you all that clearly I have done way to much in such a little amount of time. As the only reason I have the time to write this post is because I’m off work until I am better. On Friday night I had to take a trip to the Mediclinic believing I had a flu. Turns out it’s the return of my childhood nemesis, tonsilitous. The medicine I was prescribed seem to be working amazingly and I should be well enough to return to work by Wednesday. Fingers crossed.

Breakfast Is Breakfast

Before moving to South Africa, breakfast was not a necessity for me. I always knew the importance of it for your body and mind, yet never really ate in the morning. On the odd occasion I did, I would eat porridge oats, yogurt and summer fruits or weetabix with milk and fruit. But this was very rare. Since being at DCH I have had breakfast every day. This is for several reasons. 

One being that donations are given by Woolworths, the SA chain equivalent to Marks and Spencer’s, most mornings. For the best selection of the donation it’s necessary to get there as early as 7am. Once I’ve picked up some tasty but most importantly FREE food I fancy some food and make myself some breakfast. You can see below a couple examples of the highly nutritious breakfasts I have had. 

Another reason is that after a tiring 12 hour night shift some form of energy is crucial. So I go to the flat which I share with my Project Trust partners and 4 German volunteers who I also work with, and make some food. Most of time all I want is something warm as the windows are kept open all day and night and it is beyond freezing during a night shift. Imagine this, at 7am I walked in wrapped in a billion layers, bags under my eyes bigger than those blue Ikea bags, grabbing the first microwave meal I can find, while the others are just waking up and getting ready for the start of their working day.

For the children at the children’s home, life is very structured. Everyday they have Weetbix, hot water, milk and about 5 table spoons of sugar. Whilst the volunteers lives are forever changing with our odd shift routines. Some morning I have had the most bizarre foods. One morning it was BBQ Chicken Pancakes, another day it’s Chorizo and Spinach Mix with Cauliflower Rice. My favourite breakfast so far has been a concoction my partner, Ella, created. It was a thick layer of hummus and a couple chunks of avocado on toast topped with sprouted greens.

Before being asked to write this post I hadn’t really thought much about my breakfast routine and realised very quickly how much it had changed and continues to change with every new day. Without breakfast I would be useless to the children’s home as it has been the saviour of my immune system by keeping my energy levels up.