In the impressive setting of the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, which has recently been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we offer you the opportunity to interact with and educate AIDS orphans in an Orphan Day Care Centre, alongside other exciting community outreach initiatives which include: HIV/AIDS awareness programme, assisting at a local orphanage, farming to encourage positive living, refurbishment of community buildings and helping at an after-school reading club with high school students.
Surrounding the beautiful area of St Lucia are rural villages with many children, some of who are orphans, in need of education and care. There are some local crèches and day care centres which provide a place for children to go. Many of these places have little or no resources for play or education, even though the local carers try their best to make do with what they have. Our aim is to assist the carers and teachers by helping with basic learning, fun activities and lots of play for the children - in some places there are as many as 80 energetic children to be looked after!
Volunteers play a huge part in this assistance and form special bonds with the children and teachers. We also help with other needs in the community, including HIV/AIDS awareness programs, assist with the care and improving facilities for local orphans, farming to encourage healthy living, refurbishment of important community buildings and an English reading club. This project, with its adorable children, the chance to give important HIV messages and see the rewards of improving community facilities is truly a life changing experience.
Orphan Day Care:
The communities in the St. Lucia area are heavily affected by HIV/AIDS. It is believed that in some communities, up to 70 percent of people are infected with the virus. HIV is prevalent particularly in the ages of sexually active adults, as a result, many children are left orphaned. In African culture these children then live with their relatives or community members, but they are often left by themselves during the day, as their caretakers are at work.
Within the local village of Khula (10 minutes drive from St Lucia) there are several day care centres and crèches that have been established to provide a meal, basic education and the care and attention that they so often lack at home. Some days there are up to 80 children under 6 years old for the Carers to look after with little resources. Volunteers visit the day care centres every morning (Monday to Friday) and will assist in taking care of the children and teaching basic lessons to a class of under 6’s. The volunteer role is fundamental to the development of the children and in the preparation for their next step into primary school.
This is a great opportunity to help many children in the community through developmental play and education, by giving them the individual attention they desperately need. There are also opportunities to help with the babies and toddlers with play, singing, help them with basic skills and have fun. The one to one attention the children get from volunteers is so valuable as this is otherwise not available with the restricted number of carers and teachers. As a volunteer, you will assist in taking care of the orphans, and giving them the individual attention they desperately need.
You will be involved in the following:
- Teaching the children basic English lessons
- Reading children’s books to them
- Playing games, singing songs, and doing drawings with them
- Helping to refurbish the orphanage building
- Helping to cook for and bathe the orphans.
In St. Lucia’s local community, many myths about HIV/AIDS still prevail. A large percentage of local South Africans believe that the virus is a result of witchcraft, and people infected with it are often rejected from their own communities and families. As a result, many people who are infected do not admit to having the virus. Not many people know how to prevent infection, and even fewer people know how to deal with the virus once they have it.
Working together with a local organization dedicated to fighting the existing myths surrounding HIV/AIDS (and run mostly by people infected with HIV), you will go out into the local communities to help educate people about the virus. During your placement, you will visit both schools and community centres, and do the following:
- Explain, through a simple method approved by the UN what the HIV/AIDS virus actually is, and how it affects a human body
- Educate people about how the virus is transmitted, and how infection can be prevented
- Explain how, after infection, life can be prolonged through medication, healthy food, and a more healthy lifestyle.
Once a week volunteers will be given the opportunity to become involved in a community HIV Support Group to help people affected by the virus. In this community upliftment programme, volunteers help deliver health and nutrition information and provide healthy foods to a group of HIV positive adults. This is an incredibly rewarding project which makes a difference to their lives as well as providing weekly support from each other.
Ezwenalisha Orphanage Project:
Our project volunteers are currently assisting in serving lunch and after school playtime activity for approximately 40 orphans in Ezwenalisha community. You will be involved in playing educational games and sports with these energetic children. Volunteers are also helping in the conversion of 2 old buildings into bedrooms for 9 of the children that have been identified as those with the most pressing issues.
Additional Community Projects:
Besides looking after orphaned children and raising awareness about the HIV/AIDS virus, you will be involved in the following community projects:
10 Families Community Outreach Programme:
This programme aims to improve the quality of life in a sustainable way for 10 families urgently in need of assistance. Help can take many forms including food provision, education, property repairs, farming, finding access to medical attention and income generation.
Building and Refurbishment:
Community buildings in the local villages tend to be run down, particularly in the more rural and remote areas. As a volunteer, you will visit these building which may be a school, day care centre, a church, orphanage, community centre or the house of someone in need, by helping to fix roofs and windows, paint walls, and help build new rooms.
To help encourage positive and healthy living, volunteers will help local people create and maintain vegetable gardens.
English is extremely important for children in KwaZulu Natal, as all high school lessons are taught in English. Many fail their tests because they do not fully understand the language. To help high school children with their English volunteers are involved in delivering fun and creative lessons in the after school Reading Club.
Home Based Care:
You may also get the opportunity to assist locally trained care giver out in the surrounding villages, helping sick people in their homes. Volunteers help provide basic medical care and attention to those that are too sick or poor to get to a clinic for much needed treatment.
St. Lucia Donations Update – where does your money go?
We believe in firm and long term relationships with the communities we support and partner with. Their input and involvement plays an integral part to the sustainability of these projects. Our projects as well as the local community benefit greatly from donations and they really do go a long way. Since the St Lucia Project Started in September 2007 we have made a significant contribution to 2 local villages in the area, Khula and Ezwenalisha.
Many of the projects have been made possible by the kind donations from volunteers and their Friends and family - both financial donations and bringing items when they arrive in St Lucia. The areas in which we help communities are Creche and Orphan care, Health Care, HIV Education and Support, and Community Building Refurbishment through various different projects. As with many of the projects, the 10 Families project is only made possible through donations.
We have agreed with the local Induna (Chief) 10 of the most needy families in his village. Through helping improve living conditions, nutrition, school equipment and vegetable gardens we are sustainably helping each family towards a better future. In 2009 we have worked with 6 families over 7 months and built a good relationship with the family members and planned with them how we can assist.
- Educate and play with small children who have lost their parents as a result of AIDS
- Help raise awareness on preventing the spread of the HIV / AIDS virus in the local community
- Help improve the living conditions, nutrition, school equipment and vegetable gardens of the most needy families and the local orphanage to help them to become self sustaining
- Get involved with the local orphanage, teaching in the after school clubs and help with the refurbishment of classrooms into bedrooms to provide a place to stay
- Help build, refurbish and paint local community buildings
- Immerse yourself in the local Zulu culture
- Make friends for life.
Optional activities and excursions:
- Weekend Photographic Tour to the Drakensberg Mountains
- Game drives in the beautiful Hluhluwe and Umfolozi National Parks
- Visits to the beach, and snorkelling at Cape Vidal
- Whale, dolphin and sea turtle viewing
- Deep sea fishing
- Hippo and crocodile boat trips on the St. Lucia Estuary
- Weekend trips swimming with dolphins in Mozambique
- Cultural tour to a rural village, or a night of traditional Zulu dancing and food.
Where will I sleep?
During your placement, you will stay at our large and comfortable project house situated in St. Lucia, approximately a 10 min walk to the beach. It is a fully furnished house with a large lounge, satellite television, barbeque area, garden, swimming pool, and a jacuzzi. The house is staffed with cooks and laundry/cleaning ladies. All bedding is provided, so you will not need to bring a sleeping bag with you, although sometimes it is useful in the colder months (June – September). You will be sharing a bedroom with one to four people.
Members of our our team will be staying on the same property, so that they are always available to assist you with any questions or issues you may have. We find that volunteers living together and working closely together with their volunteer coordinators is the surest way of ensuring their safety, and of being able to attend to their most pressing needs. For this reason, we expect all volunteers to stay only in the accommodation provided for them and do not allow volunteers to spend nights away in the town or nearby villages, unless they are away on pre-arranged sightseeing excursions.
You will be provided with three meals a day. Breakfast is on a help-yourself basis and usually consists of cereals, toast, tea and coffee. Lunch and dinner are full meals, and will be cooked for you by one of our chefs at your volunteer house.
How do I get there and travel around?
The nearest airport to St. Lucia is Richards Bay Airport, which is about a forty five minute drive from St. Lucia. There are daily flights from Johannesburg to Richards Bay, and can be booked online.
Do I need experience, is there orientation?
For this project, no specific experience is required. An interest in teaching, a caring nature and an enthusiasm with children is encouraged. Some prior background reading on HIV is highly recommended to get the most from your time on this project. Upon arrival in St. Lucia you will have a comprehensive orientation program, which is included in your fee. This is facilitated by your project volunteer coordinator and entails:
- An introduction to St. Lucia and its surrounding areas
- An intensive introduction into the syllabus we use for HIV/AIDS education
- An introduction to all our projects. Not only will you see where you will be working, you will also see where your fellow volunteers will be spending their days
- A basic language course. You will learn some basic words and sentences in Zulu, the local language in St. Lucia, so that you can communicate with people in their own language. In addition, you will learn some of the local cultural nuances
- A visit to a rural area, so that you get a good idea of how local people live
- At the orientation, you will also receive our detailed "Welcome Pack", which will contain further useful information for your time with us.
Project Support Throughout your stay at your placement you will have the support and guidance of experienced field-workers and coordinators. They are part of our greater support team, and will provide you with competent 24-hour field support and assistance.
A day in the life:
Here is how a typical day in the life of a St. Lucia Orphan Day Care and HIV/AIDS Education volunteer might take shape. Please note that your itineraries may differ from this, depending on your own experience and the number of other volunteers on the placement at the same time; this is simply to give an example:
07:30 - Get up, eat breakfast, and start getting ready for your project.
08:30 - Head off to the Orphan Day Care Centre.
08:45 - Start your work at the centre. You will be able to use lesson plans and ideas created the previous week. This learning and bonding is essential to the children’s development and to prepare for their next steps proceeding to primary school.
12:30 - Lunch break. You will be picked up from the centre, and taken to your volunteer house, where lunch will be waiting for you.
14:00- Start of your afternoon projects. You may visit communities to teach people HIV/AIDS awareness, feeding and playing with the orphans when they have finished school, refurbishing an orphanage or school, or farming to promote healthy living.
16:30 - End of the working day. You will be picked up from your project and taken home, where we evaluate the day and discuss the schedule for the next day.
18:30 Dinner at your volunteer house.
- What is the minimum stay: 2 weeks
- Where exactly is it: St. Lucia, East Coast of South Africa
- What will I be doing: Interact with and educate AIDS orphans in an orphan day care centre.
- The project fee entails financing that goes directly back into the project that you are involved with. It facilitates funding for items such as books for the orphans, building materials, and educational resources
- Transport between Richards Bay Airport and St. Lucia
- Comprehensive orientation program
- All daily transfers to and from your projects during your stay
- Full board and lodging, which includes 3 meals a day at our volunteer house
- Laundry service during your stay
- Assistance at your projects by our staff and volunteer coordinators
- Any visits to other project-based programmes based in St. Lucia.
Prices from £785/$1415.
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