There have been a lot of birthday nights out and leaving do’s this week so I am absolutely exhausted! Some people have gone home now which was sad, you don’t realise how close you get to people when you spend so much time with them. They have all been facebooking us from home saying they want to come back.
This week I thought I would try out some of the other placements on offer. There are also care/medicine and teaching placements, and it seems to be really flexible as some volunteers do a couple days a week on each placement. For the teaching placement, there is just one school where you would teach every day. As I didn’t really know what I was doing I taught Grade R, who were the youngest kids. It wasn’t really teaching, more singing and dancing and taking photos and playing games but it was really sweet. The kids are all so affectionate and cuddly!! It made me sad when I saw how little they had and also at lunchtime, they had packed lunches and some of them just had a lump of bread to eat!! I felt awful and gave my sandwhiches away! Took some hysterical videos of them all just being crazy though, one of them kept copying everything I said. After lunch I went and watched Steven, another volunteer, teaching a lesson to the older kids. He was really impressive as teaching looks hard, but he says you get the hang of it and the teachers give you their curriculum and books which makes it easier. We also took an I.T lesson as they have a computer room with some basic computers, the kids got so excited just learning how to underline things. It was really touching, I actually felt a lot more affected than doing sports coaching, I think because we had more time to get to know the kids individually and see how much their education means so much to them. They are all so keen to learn!
Another day I went to the orphanage which is part of the care/medicine placement. Some pictures will go up in a new post soon! There is also a special needs centre you can work at too for this placement but I didn’t get the chance to visit it. The orphange was an absolutely amazing experience and for the first time, I got really upset about the conditions for all the kids. We started off in the baby room, where there are four toddlers who sleep and live there in this one room. 3 out of the 4 have HIV and have either been abandoned by their parents or their parents have already died of Aids. They seem so happy though, and have plenty of toys to play with which have been donated which is nice. I let one of the little kids play with my phone and he was absolutely transfixed, playing the music and dancing and putting it to his ear saying ‘hello montys phone, hello mandy’. Very adorable!! We then were asked to help one of the nurses with the medicine, and we spent half an hour sorting out all the individual pills and things for each kid. This really upset me, it just hit home that these kids are sick even though they look so happy, they each take about ten pills a day. The oldest child there is 12, and they say she only has a few years left. She was very frail but always smiling and happy. We then went to the pre school section and met all the kids there. We brought with us a packet of baloons and some chocolate and they were all so happy and excited! We learnt about some of their histories which was so sad, especially a pair of twins where one of them had been given to the orphanage and one of them kept at home until recently. They are now together but they didn’t even know they were sisters at first!! One great thing is that they are being adopted soon by an American couple. This is quite rare I think as most of the kids have HIV and therefore aren’t always the first choice for adoption. They are all so cute and lovely though!!! This placement seems a lot easier than the coaching one too, the hours are 8 to 12 and then you have the afternoons free!
My closest friend here is going home this weekend. I’m quite sad about it. I think a month is possibly the perfect amount of time to have out here as you leave wanting to stay,I think my last week I might feel ready to go home. Howeverrrrr, this weekend was the safari weekend!! We went to Addo Elephant Park and Seaview Game reserve. It was absolutely amazing!! They cost about 20 quid each but it was the most amazing day out. We saw elephants, lions, rhinocerous, turtles, everything! The animals came up so close as well, the photos are insane! At Seaview, we got to pet tame lion cubs which was the cutest, most amazing thing ever. They were quite agressive eating my cardigan but so fluffy and adorable!! Funniest thing today was that at one of the viewpoints, the girls got topless for some naked safari photos and the boys pretty much naked too. Have a look at the pics!