Inger-Lise Schuffel

Inger-Lise is a 16-year-old from the Netherlands and has volunteered in Cape Town, South-Africa. She participated in an orphaned and vulnerable children program.

Photos

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I was looking for something with children, but not teaching. I found the orphaned and vulnerable children program and fell in love immediately. I wanted to help give the children a fun day and this program was perfect for that!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I booked through African Impact directly, so I had very close contact with one of the destination managers, Jess. I would just send her an email whenever I wanted to know something about the program or the booking.

They helped me organize my documents (because I was traveling alone as a minor) and helped me find the right flights. I had to book the flight myself. Before my trip, they helped me with a packing list and a lot of information about the projects.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I would advise you to ask ALL the questions you have! The African Impact staff is more than happy to tell you everything you want to know. If you are thinking about booking but have any questions, don't hesitate! You can even ask them for email addresses of alumni volunteers so that you can ask them specific things about the experience.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

You wake up around half past 7 in your room in the volunteer house. Breakfast is in the living room so I just got dressed and made myself a cup of tea and toast. Right after breakfast, you get ready for morning announcements.

The staff then tells you everything about the day's plans and any specifics. After morning announcements we would go to the cars and be off to project. Morning project would be from 9 am to 12pm, and after that, we would go to a place to have lunch.

We had an afternoon project from 2 pm to 4 pm. After that project we would go home, change and then pack for the next day (we packed boxes for the activities on the project every night). Dinner is served at 6 so everyone would get their food and sit down. After dinner, some of us did the dishes and after dinner, we would go out to town or just stay home and chill or play games.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was not making any friends, but that fear was so unnecessary! You will get to know so many lovely people, all with the same reason to be there. The other volunteers and the staff become like your family so quickly and you will be so sad to leave them.

What was the hardest thing about your stay abroad?

The hardest part was the contrast between the rich city center of Cape Town and the poor village of Khayelitsha. It was very hard for me to realize that the differences between the people of Cape Town are so big.

Switching between working in the orphanage in the day time and being in the rich center at night was very weird at first. In addition to that, this is so cliche, however leaving Cape Town was so hard. All I could do on my way to the airport, at the airport and on my first flight was cry and I'm not even exaggerating. I still miss it every day!