Surrounding the beautiful area of St Lucia are rural villages which have little resources for healthcare for the thousands of people that live there. Through working with care givers in the community we aim to increase the support available and make a difference to peoples’ lives and health. This is through the direct assistance given on home based care visits and by educating and supporting people to live healthier, in a sustainable way. We offer you the opportunity to become involved at the grass roots level by assisting care givers to offer medical treatment and care, provide people with advice on health matters and helping them build a better life in their homes. With HIV being such an impact on the communities, raising awareness and educating people on this virus to people young and old is also an important part of this project. This project with its variety and direct positive impact on individuals and families really is an unforgettable, life changing experience.
- Assist with much needed home based care for sick patients in their rural homes and help them get the treatment they need from the local clinic
- Help raise awareness on preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS virus and how people can live positively with HIV in the local community
- Help improve living conditions, nutrition, school equipment and vegetable gardens for the most needy families and help them become self sustaining
- Immerse yourself in local Zulu culture
- Make friends for life.
Optional activities and excursions:
- Weekend Photography Tour to the Drakensberg Mountains
- Game drives in the beautiful Hluhluwe and Umfolozi National Parks
- Hire a car and visit the beaches that surround St Lucia and snorkel at Cape Vidal
- Whale, dolphin, and sea turtle viewing (seasonal)
- Hippo and crocodile cruises on the St. Lucia Estuary
- Weekend trips to the stunning Phinda Private Game Reserve
- Dolphin Swimming in Mozambique (overnight)
- Photographic Tour in the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains (3 nights).
Where will I sleep?
During your project, 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, and swimming pool. The house is staffed with cooks and laundry / cleaning ladies. You will be sharing a bedroom with one to four people. Members of our team will be staying on the same property, so that they are available to assist 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 guaranteeing their safety and being able to attend to their most pressing needs.
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 these can be booked online.
Do I need experience, is there orientation?
For this project no specific experience is required, although any medical or pharmaceutical training/experience would be useful. An interest in medicine or caring for others and a first aid certificate are encouraged. Some prior reading on HIV is highly recommended to get the most from your time on this project. Upon arrival in St. Lucia all volunteers are involved in a comprehensive orientation program, which is included in your fee. This is facilitated by your project manager and entails:
- An introduction to the town of St. Lucia and surrounding areas
- An overview of the medical outreach programme and the needs of the local community
- An introduction into the syllabus we use for HIV/AIDS education and an HIV/AIDS question and answer session to help with any concerns or questions you have for you own safety
- An introduction and visit to the projects to see where you will be working
- A basic language course - You will learn some basic words and sentences in Zulu, the local language in St. Lucia
- At the orientation, volunteers will also receive an overview of our detailed "Welcome Pack", which will contain further useful information for your time with us.
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:
Please note that your itinerary 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:
07:00 - Get up, eat breakfast, and start getting ready to depart for your project
08:30 - Head off to meet the local care giver and drive to the local homes that need medical assistance
09:00 - You may visit 2-5 homes in the morning giving medical assistance and care in the rural villages around St Lucia
12:30 - Lunch break. You will be picked up from your project, and taken to your volunteer house, where lunch will be waiting for you
14:00 - Start of your afternoon projects. You may help the painting or refurbishment projects to help on 10 Families
16:30 - End of the working day. You will be picked up from your project and taken home, where we clean tools, evaluate the day’s work and discuss the schedule for the next day
18:00 - Dinner at your volunteer house.
Rural Home Based Care:
As a volunteer you will predominantly spend your mornings with a 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. This is a unique opportunity to gain hands on medical care experience, make an impact on the lives of disadvantaged families and an insight into Zulu village life.
As a volunteer you will visit homes with the care giver to meet new patients or visit patients we already support. You will be involved in inquiring about their health and making a plan with the caregiver on how we can help the patient. This can include assisting with medical treatment, giving health advice, providing items to make the patient more comfortable (blankets, mattress, hot water bottle etc.), ensuring they are taking medication correctly and helping around their home. You will also give out much need food parcels and donations to these patients to encourage positive living and better nutrition.
Your visit on its own is something that patients look forward to as it is the only help they may be getting. For some patients on Home Based Care visiting a clinic or hospital is a critical step. With minimal transport available or people not having the money for transport this is an area we also help with. After your daily visits you will update records on each patient so we can keep a history on the health and care we have given.
Medical Clinic Assistance:
We also offer help to the local clinic and at times volunteers may be able to become involved in simple tasks. This can range from giving out donations to new born babies and mothers to helping weigh patients and take their temperature. Please note that this work is based on the needs of the clinic at that time and may not be a permanent activity on this medical programme.
HIV/AIDS Awareness Education:
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 our Volunteer Coordinator with experience in teaching this subject you will be involved in teaching adults and children 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 United Nations 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 volunteer 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.
10 Families Community Outreach Programme:
The Ten Families Project was established in May 2009 and 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. This amazing community outreach programme is only made possible through the help of volunteers and is a unique insight into how traditional Zulu families live and a chance to make strong bonds with each family
Afternoon Community Projects: Besides providing much needed medical assistance to the wider communities and raising awareness about the HIV/AIDS virus, you will be involved in the following community projects:
Ezwenalisha Orphanage Project:
Our 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.
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. You will find that the community greatly appreciate your presence and support, and your work will be highly rewarding.
To help encourage positive and healthy living, volunteers will help local people create and maintain vegetable gardens. These will supply people with much needed healthy food and encourage them to be more self sufficient for them and their family. The farming activities may include digging, weeding, fencing, planting and watering. Watching the vegetables grow and be used by more and more people is a great way to make a difference.
First aid care in community creches:
Volunteers will also have the opportunity to help at one of the community crèches in which the St Lucia Orphan Day Care volunteers work, to administer first aid and help care for young children.
- What is the minimum stay: 2 weeks
- Where exactly is it: St. Lucia, North East Coast of South Africa
- What will I be doing: Offering medical assistance and HIV/AIDS care to rural communities.
- The project fee includes funds that go directly back into the project you are involved with. It facilitates funding for items such as medical supplies, building materials, equipment, etc.
- 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 (except on Sundays)
- Laundry service during your stay
- Assistance at your projects by our staff and volunteer coordinators
- Any visits to our other programs based in St. Lucia.
Prices from £890/$1605.
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