Sports coaching in South Africa – Millie’s blog entry


Sat at home in England reflecting on my time in South Africa, I’m glad I’ve waited to write my blog entry, as I feel it is only now I can fully grasp how lucky I have been the past seven weeks.  There are far too many individual highlights for me to mention them all, but skydiving, safari and swimming with dolphins aside, it is the experience as a whole that leaves you desperate to go back.

Within three days of arriving in South Africa I was on my way to coach at my first school. I was so unsure what to expect but within minutes of driving through the school gates we were swamped with children screaming with excitement to see us. Within ten minutes of being at the school, you already feel like you know the kids and the session ahead seems far less daunting. In addition to this it helps that most sessions start with various silly warm up games and end with being completely humiliated by the kid’s superior dancing and singing skills. Some of the children are so keen to learn new skills, whereas others are much more of a challenge to encourage but whatever the children have been like that day, you arrive home with such a sense of achievement (alongside a significant amount of exhaustion, of course).


At the end of the placement we helped organise a sports tournament for a number of the schools we taught. During this tournament we had an opportunity to scout some of the children to go the Junior School of Excellence Program for their sports talent. This program is designed to help the children get into better senior schools, get better grades and in turn have more opportunities open to them in life. It was such an amazing feeling to see some of the kids getting scouted due to skills we had helped them develop. Although not every day was easy working in the townships, and although it as not always easy hearing some of the children’s stories, seeing the achievements some of them accomplished in the tournament really made me believe, that even if it is only for an hour a day, you really can make a difference in some of these children’s lives.

In addition to meeting some of the most entertaining and amazing children, you can’t help but grow so close to the other volunteers you live with. I have left South Africa with friends I know I will stay in touch with, having shared some of the most incredible moments with them. The memories I made in South Africa will never leave me, especially those of the children, and the letters I received from them when leaving are enough to ensure I will never forget them and my time there.

Millie Karlsen xxx

(If you would like to do some volunteer sports coaching, or teaching or orphanage work, in South Africa like Millie, placements are for 5 – 12 weeks and cost from £1,150 to £1,850.  Placement price includes local airport transfers, accommodation in the Volunteer House, food, transport to placements, orientation and 2 to 2 excursions.  Send us an email on, check out the website or give us a ring on 01483 331551 or 07833 208 158 for more details about start dates)


Posted in Charities in South Africa, Gap Year, Gap Year South Africa, sports coaching abroad, volunteer hockey coaching abroad, volunteering in South Africa | Tagged | Leave a comment

Volunteer Abroad in Swaziland – Aids Education through Rugby Coaching


Make a difference in Swaziland – Combine rugby coaching and AIDS education with this fantastic charity and develop key career skills too!

Swaziland 109

Coaching rugby to the kids

Coaching rugby to the kids

Rachel Middleton assisting Swazi coach Wilson Dlamini

Rachel Middleton assisting Swazi coach Wilson Dlamini


The charity, SKRUM, aims to provide AIDS education with rugby coaching to communities in Swaziland, and has recently started making presentations on AIDS to schools.

Over the last 5 years, they have introduced their rugby and AIDS education programmes into 500 of the 800+ schools in Swaziland, but Headmasters and teachers felt that only the children who opted in for the rugby coaching were getting the full benefit of the AIDS education programme and the phamplets which the charity were handing out.

So now SKRUM have changed their model.  They visit a school every morning and Wilson, the talented young Swazi coach, makes a presentation to the whole school by showing them a dvd, which is a novelty in itself since many of the children will have never seen television.

The dvd spells out the facts about AIDS:

– 42% of the population in Swaziland has AIDS or are HIV positive

– the average age expectancy is 32 years (so the boy or girl standing next to them may die by the time they are 32)

– Circumsizing will not protect them from AIDS, as the media campaign in Swaziland suggests

– There is an alarming number of AIDS orphans in Swaziland

-They must use a condom if they are going to have sex and need to think very seriously about how they can look after themselves for the future


You can help the team make and deliver these presentations to the schools and after answer any questions the children have. But there are also many other parts of this volunteer opportunity.  You could help by driving one of the cars, painting the charity’s logo on the outside of the schools,  helping with the rugby coaching (and do your Level 1 coaching certificate whilst there),  helping with the endless admin that needs doing – booking schools, organizing tournaments, making presentations to local businesses and government organizations…..the list is endless.

And while you are there, you can see this beautiful country which has much to offer!

For more info, contact us at on 01483 331551 or 01483 203405 or 07833 208 158 or send us an email with your questions at


Posted in AIDS in Africa, AIDS in Swaziland, Gap Year, Gap Year in Swaziland, Level 1 rugby coaching in Swaziland, rugby charities in Africa, rugby coaching in Africa, SKrum, Swaziland, Volunteer rugby coaching abroad, volunteer rugby coaching in South Africa, volunteer rugby coaching in Swaziland, volunteering for mature people, volunteering for seniors, volunteering in South Africa | Leave a comment


I receive the Ready Traveler Newsletter from the site and this great article made me sit up and take note!

9 Everyday Objects You can re-use for Travel Disaster Survival

Everyday Objects You can Repurpose for Travel Disaster Survival

As stories of last week’s blizzard rolled across our screens, we’re reminded of the many freakish travel disasters people have endured in the recent past: cruise ships sinking, people trapped in their cars during blizzards, hurricanes, floods and more.

When a traveler finds him or herself in a disaster scenario and needs to survive, they may be looking around for everyday objects they can re-purpose to help them survive. Here are a few common, everyday objects you can re-purpose in a travel disaster survival scenario.

1. Ideal for binding other objects together – dental floss

Dental floss is ridiculously strong and can be used to bind other objects together, such as sticks to create some shelter from the elements. Dental floss has also been used to devise snares to catch small animals for food and as fishing line, but of course you’d need to re-purpose other objects to use as knives or fishing hooks as well (more on that later).  (I normally have this with me so ok but dont tell my hygienist that I am using it for non-dental purposes)

2. Ideal for straining water – a sock

The humble sock is a great tool in normal circumstances to protect your feet and keep you warm and dry, but in a survival situation you can also use your socks to strain water for drinking. It won’t get rid of bacteria or microscopic parasites like Giardia, however. So, if you can also boil the water, that’s still the safest. (I normally make my thick travel socks that I use with my walking boots last 3 days….so not too sure about drinking the highly flavoured water…)

3. Ideal as a breathing aid – a bandana

Many backpackers carry a bandana or two for protection from the sun or to cool them off when it’s hot, but in a survival situation, a bandana is also great as a breathing aid. In dusty, severe cold, or smoky conditions, it can be tied over your nose and mouth securely and your hands are free.  A must-buy!

4. Ideal for drinking water storage – a condom

In a survival situation, water is critical to your ability to stay alive and a condom can hold as much as 1.5 liters of life-saving water. If you’re lucky enough to find drinkable water, a condom is a great way to store it and carry it. A condom can also be repurposed to hold other life-saving items and keep them dry (matches anyone?). I guess I will look a bit silly, but hey ho, when you’re desperate anything goes!

5. Ideal for creating warmth – garbage bags

Carried by hunters and hikers around the globe, large-sized garbage bags have a range of uses, but one of the most important may be keeping you warm. Staying warm and dry is at the top of the list of priorities when you’re in a survival scenario and have no access to shelter and heat. Plastic garbage bags can be quickly re-purposed as a rain jacket or sleeping bag and will keep body heat in while keeping rain and snow away.  

Garbage bags can also be used to create shelter, hold water, as an emergency buoyancy device, and even burned for a signal fire.  I will make sure I buy the “extra strong” ones….just in case I need the emergency buoyancy device!

6. Ideal for signalling for help – a soda can

When you’re waiting for rescue, signalling those who are looking for you helps them find you quicker and reflective objects – like the bottom of a soda can – reflects the sun well enough to be an effective signal to a rescue team.

Soda and beer cans can also be used to collect rainwater to drink or as a receptacle for your sock-filtered water.  Easy peasy.

7. Ideal for bandaging open wounds – a tampon

It’s rumored that soldiers carry these for bullet wounds. Depending on the shape of the wound, a tampon can be used either flattened out or rolled up to make an absorbent wound dressing for a makeshift field bandage.

Tampons can also be used as water filters if you also have a plastic water bottle. Fill the water bottle, then push the tampon into the neck of the bottle. Pour the water through the tampon to strain it. I think anyone watching will think I have completely flipped but brilliant!

8. Ideal as a fishing hook – hair clips and bobby pins

Many hair clips and bobby pins can be refashioned into a fishing hook (attach your dental floss as as a line). Scare up a little live bait like a bug or a worm and you’ve got a decent chance of landing a fish or frog for nourishment.  Obviously trying frogs legs in France is good preparation for survival training!

Necessity is the mother of all invention and when we’re thinking clearly and looking around to see what we can use to stay alive, we can find any number of common things that can be used in an emergency.

9. Ideal for making a fire

If you have a lighter or access to something reflective enough to concentrate the light of the sun, you can also start a fire. Don’t forget the wide array of ordinary objects that can be used to start a fire:

  • old-fashioned camera film
  • lint (look to your socks and sweaters for some)
  • many hand sanitizers are flammable
  • petroleum jelly
  • many lip balms are also flammable
  • matches???

Of course, there are hard-core survivalists who can turn a wristwatch into a compass, or repurpose a broken cell phone into a knife blade, or turn a soda can tab into a fishhook as well but we’ll leave those ideas for the survival experts.

(Apologies to Travel Insurance Review – I tried to share it on Facebook but all to no avail.)

I will be shortly visiting Lesotho in Southern Africa where SKRUM in Swaziland will be sending their rugby coaching and AIDS education volunteers.  My job is to check that the logistics will work and I am happy that the volunteers will be safe and have a meaningful experience.  The country does appear on paper like the last frontier to be discovered so I might be taking the above articles in my day pack!  (Note to self:  buy larger day pack to accommodate new survival kit)

Jill Golding

Volunteer Vacations


Posted in AIDS in Swaziland, Gap Year, Gap Year in Swaziland, rugby charities in Africa, rugby coaching in Africa, SKrum, sports coaching abroad, Tips & Advice, Travel, Travel survival tips, Volunteer rugby coaching abroad, volunteer rugby coaching in Swaziland | Leave a comment

VOLUNTEER AND TRAVEL INDIA – dazzle your senses with the light, the warmth and the smells

Hannah Godfreys photos of India 434


Set in the rural hills surrounding Udaipur in Northern Rajasthan, this outstanding charity has placements for:

– teaching in primary schools in the morning and providing after-school activities in a boys orphanage in the afternoon

– working in pre-school child centres and providing traditional nursery education and activities

– accompanying the health visitors and delivering health programmes such as polio immunisation in the rural villages

– building renovation, refurbishment and construction every July and August (4 volunteers needed for this)

– teaching the ladies to sew as part of the women’s empowerment programme

Jo McBride 1 India

Placements are from 2 – 12 weeks and cost from £995 to £2,195.  Price includes local airport transfers, accommodation at the volunteer house, 3 cooked meals a day, Hindi lesson, orientation, local excursions, Taj Mahal excursion.

Whilst there, in your spare time, you can also visit the Ranthambore Tiger Park and see the tigers in the wild…

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…or you can visit Jodhpur and the desert communities and go camel riding…..


…and in your spare time explore Udaipur, sometimes called the Venice of the East

India 031

These placements are perfect for single volunteers and also families. The charity is also able to cater for Duke of Edinburgh Gold award students and combine the volunteer placements as the Residential Element and also organize the expedition element together with their partner who is an Approved Activity Provider.

For more details, check our website, send us an email on or give us a ring on (oo44) 01483 331551 or 07833 208 158.


Posted in Duke of Edinburg Gold Award, Family volunteering, Gap Year, Gap Year in India, The Volunteer Experience, Travel in India, Uncategorized, volunteer teaching abroad, volunteer teaching in India, Volunteer teaching of sewing in India, Volunteering for P.I.O., volunteering for seniors, volunteering for the family, volunteering in India | Leave a comment



  • pyjamas
  • towel (lightweight travel towel ideal)
  • underwear
  • wash kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, deodorant, razor, shaving gel/foam, wet wipes, anti-bacterial hand gel, after sun cream, sun tan lotion, tissues, etc.)
  • fleece
  • swimming costume
  • sun hat
  • sports kit (tracksuits, tops, shorts,  including trainers and rugby boots) and whistle if you are doing a sports coaching placement
  • suitable clothes if you are teaching (dress like the locals, do not offend with low cut t-shirts, short skirts, shorts, etc.)
  • lightweight waterproof jacket
  • casual clothes for weekends and evenings
  • sandals/flip flops
  • personal medical kit
  • camera
  • watch
  • sunglasses
  • backpack for day use and a water bottle
  • phone (for a local sim card)
  • cotton sleeping bag liner (not essential but very snug)
  • head torch (essential for power cuts, badly lit streets and reading in bed!)
  • local currency, debit card and money card for ATMs and credit card for emergencies (not be kept all in the same place)
  • photo copy of passport, bank details, etc. on memory stick just in case you lose them!

Volunteer Vacations

(We send volunteers to South Africa, Swaziland, Kenya, India and Thailand to either do sports coaching, teaching in primary and secondary schools, work in orphanages, teach ladies to sew, rebuild and refurbish schools, help in health promotion…  For more details see our website, email us on or give us a ring on 01483 331551 or 07833 208 158)


Posted in Gap Year, Gap Year in India, Gap Year in Kenya, Gap Year in Swaziland, Gap Year in Thailand, Gap Year South Africa, The Volunteer Experience, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

VOLUNTEER IN SOUTH AFRICA THIS SUMMER – coach sport, teach or work in an orphanage

volunteer house swimming pool

VOLUNTEER IN SOUTH AFRICA THIS SUMMER on a 5 week placement from Saturday 13th July to Saturday 17th August.

Netball coaching in South Africa

Coach sports available:  Football, Rugby, Tennis, Swimming, Netball, Hockey, Cricket, Frisbee

Teach in primary or secondary schools

Work in orphanages

Make a difference to kids in the local township schools where, if it weren’t for this charity, they would not have any sport at all!

Inspire these youngsters and give them hope for the future.

AIDS has devastated the local communities and many kids are orphans living with a granny, older sibling or neighbour. This placement gives you the opportunity to truly leave your footprint and make a difference to the lives of the kids you come in contact with.

And whilst there, you will be sharing the Volunteer House with up to 40 other like minded volunteers and there will be time to have some fun in the evenings and at the weekends.


For sports coaching, you will get plenty of help in the orientation with some tips on how to teach and what to teach.  The teachers in the schools will give you all the help you need to try out your teaching skills.  Many of the children in the orphanages have AIDS so any stimulation and fun you can give them will make a big difference in their lives.

Stephen teaching in South Africa

Book early to avoid disappointment by emailing: More details on our website: or give us a ring on 01483 331551 or 07833 208 158


Posted in AIDS in Africa, Charities in South Africa, Gap Year, Gap Year South Africa, rugby coaching in Africa, The Volunteer Experience, volunteer football coaching abroad, volunteer football coaching in South Africa, Volunteer rugby coaching abroad, volunteer rugby coaching in South Africa, volunteer soccer coaching, volunteer teaching abroad, volunteering abroad for teachers, volunteering for mature people, volunteering in South Africa | Leave a comment




Assuming that you have already either chosen between
the  “random travel or “work on a volunteer placement
with a charity overseas” options (or a combination of
both?), here are the most important points you should
consider when planning your Gap Year, Career Break or
Family Volunteering overseas:

1.   Budget
Most important factor that really determines everything else.

2.   Length of Stay
Once you have chosen the country (or countries) you
want to visit, what is the maximum number of weeks
you are allowed to stay on a Tourist Visa?

3.   Flights   
How much will your flights and any other travel cost?
It’s always best to pay for these up front as it gives you
a time framework to go by. Flights are generally
available to buy 11 months before the date you want
to travel and are generally cheaper then. If you don’t
mind an extended flight via Timbuktu, then you can
make savings with a last minute bargain but will
arrive very tired!

4.    Accommodation
If your accommodation is not included, then book
and pay for this in advance.

5.    Travel Insurance
As soon as you have committed to your plans and made
a down payment, take out Travel Insurance.  It may
seem a little early but should you need to cancel before
you go for an unforeseen reason, then you may be
covered.  Travel Insurance is a “must-have” for any
overseas travel and make sure you are covered for
all the usual, in particular medical expenses,
repatriation, cancellation and curtailment and if you
are participating in any extreme sports, such as
bungee jumping,  get cover for this too. If you are
not booking a “package”, then check with your
Travel Insurance Company that you will be covered for
booking things individually.

6.   Vaccinations
Go as soon as you can to visit your local travel nurse and
discuss where you are going and see if you need any new
vaccinations, boosters or malaria tablets. There may be a
cost for any jabs and also for malaria tablets but this is a
very important part of your travel planning. You can get
advice from the following website

7.    Passport
You should check the expiry date on your passport and
make sure it will not expire whilst you are abroad.
Make sure you have more than 6 months before expiry
on entry. You can check with a site like for information about
whether or not you will need a visa before you go and
bare in mind there may be a cost for this.  If the
country that you are visiting will give you a visa on
arrival, make sure you have plenty of empty pages
and in the case of South Africa, a double blank page
or they may refuse you entry!

8.    Money Management
Take the equivalent of £100 in local currency with you.
ATMs are very popular overseas and you should always
go into your local bank in the UK before you travel
and notify them you are going overseas, listing the
dates and countries to visit.  However, this is no
guarantee that they will not stop your card if they
are suspicious about the use of your card.  A
money card is a good thing to have as a back up
and be kept in a separate location to your usual
bank card.  Thirdly, I would also recommend taking
a credit card to be used solely for emergencies and
again, kept in a separate location to the other two
cards so you don’t lose all your access to money if
you get mugged.

9.   Phone

If you have a contract phone, best leave this at
home because chances are you may lose it or
have it stolen. The easiest thing to do is to take a
cheap pay-as-you-go phone and on arrival in the
country you are visiting, buy a local sim card and
top-up vouchers.  If you can get one that does
photos too, then it will save you taking a separate
camera.  For Internet, it’s always fun to go to the
local Internet cafe and relatively cheap to pick up
your messages and catch up on Facebook.

10.  Emergency contact
If you have an emergency when abroad, who will
you contact?  Make sure you have details of the
local British Embassy or High Commission. This is
always a problem for gappies travelling around
randomly when things go wrong – and they often
do – they do not have the safety net that someone
who is staying with a local charity has.

Jill Golding,

Posted in Family volunteering, Gap Year, volunteering for the family | Tagged | Leave a comment