After working full time for the last 9 years of my life, I quit my job when we moved to South Africa. Not having a full time job has been incredibly wonderful in so many ways, but it has had its challenges as well. A few months after we got here, and Rob’s internship ended, he was offered a job! After much thought and prayer we accepted. Knowing we were staying in South Africa for an extended period of time made me feel much more settled. I can’t say I felt at home right away, but I felt more apart of the community and I wanted to give back to the city and people somehow. Finding a volunteer opportunity seemed like the perfect way to give back.
When I first started college I wanted to be an elementary teacher, because I love being around kids (most of the time…) but after being accepted to the interior design program at BYU-Idaho, I changed majors and set out on a new path. I still love kids and often wonder how the last 9 years of my post-college life would have been different it iI had pursued elementary education, but even with my interior design degree, I have had many unexpected and wonderful opportunities to work in different fields, many of which have been with kids. In High School I volunteered once a week at the elementary school in my little town and I loved it. I worked with kids who struggled with reading and who were behind the other children. With this love for being around kids, after we were a bit more settled in Cape Town, I began to look for local volunteer opportunities. I I looked online, but didn’t find any that were too close to home. One day during a run, I ran past a primary school about 15 minutes from our house. A woman in our church ward had mentioned that the schools can always use volunteers, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to go in and check there. Later that week I walked in and talked with the secretary, and again the principal two weeks later, met some of the teachers, worked out a schedule, and boom! I began volunteering – just like that!
The teachers I work with are wonderful. I watch them with their kids and they are so patient and loving. Shaping the life of a child is not for the faint of heart. They inspire me. The first few months I volunteered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for a few hours each week. I had my own little colorful classroom with bright purple and green walls (PS – colors are so bold and vibrant in Africa – I really like that). Tuesdays I worked with three groups of Grade-R kids (Equivalent to kindergarten) teaching a program called Audiblox, and Wednesdays I read to small groups of students in Grade 1. One of the grade 3 teachers recently went on maternity leave so the librarian took over her class until she returns. With no librarian for the kids, I was asked to volunteer in the library on Friday mornings…. and I love it! My duties are pretty simple. I record the books the kids check out and I get to read and be the storyteller – what great fun! The kids are so stinking cute and they absolutely love it. They are so much fun and I have a blast with them everytime. I am go grateful I get to spend time sharing stories and learning with them. They melt my heart.