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St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education Volunteer

St Lucia, South Africa
from £1,030 (2 weeks)

Ref: AV019

A life-changing experience in South Africa awaits volunteers who want to work in a vibrant Zulu community to help educate children who have been orphaned by AIDS.  This project is located in the beautiful St Lucia area where nearly 70% of the local population are believed to be infected with HIV, and many of the children have lost one or both their parents.  The help of volunteers in educating these children and raising awareness of HIV in these communities is very important.  The project gives volunteers the opportunity to engage with people - young and old - to make a positive impact whilst living by the beautiful Indian Ocean with waters full of hippos, crocs, whales and turtles and the chance to see the Big 5 during weekend excursions with fellow volunteers.


Who can join: 17 years and over
Accommodation: Dedicated volunteer house
Transfer time: approx. 2.5 hours
Pick up Point: Durban International Airport
Meals: Three meals a day - excluding Sat lunch/dinner & Sun lunch
Volunteer numbers: approx. 8
Special Offer: £150 off the project fee for all new bookings to join during 2019

Duration & Fees

2 weeks£1,030
3 weeks£1,308
4 weeks£1,585
5 weeks£1,862
6 weeks£2,139
7 weeks£2,416
8 weeks£2,693

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Please note: The currency conversion is an estimate based on today's exchange rates and is to be used as a guide only. All payments to Amanzi Travel have to be made in Pounds Sterling (GBP)

Start Dates

Volunteers can join this project on alternate Sundays. Collection transfer is strictly at 1.00 pm on scheduled start date and volunteers will be returned to the airport on their project end date by 10.30am.

2019 Start Dates:

13 Jan | 27 Jan | 10 Feb | 24 Feb | 10 Mar | 24 Mar | 7 Apr | 21 Apr | 5 May | 19 May | 2 Jun | 16 Jun | 30 Jun | 14 Jul | 28 Jul | 11 Aug | 25 Aug | 8 Sep | 22 Sep | 6 Oct | 20 Oct | 3 Nov | 17 Nov

2020 Start Dates:

12 Jan | 26 Jan | 9 Feb | 23 Feb | 8 Mar | 22 Mar | 5 Apr | 19 Apr | 3 May | 17 May | 31 May | 14 Jun | 28 Jun | 5 Jul | 12 Jul | 19 Jul | 26 Jul | 2 Aug | 9 Aug | 16 Aug | 23 Aug | 30 Aug | 6 Sep | 20 Sep | 4 Oct | 18 Oct | 1 Nov | 15 Nov | 29 Nov

For volunteers who join for 3, 5 and 7 weeks a private return transfer fee of 1500 ZAR is payable for this.

This project closes for the Christmas period in early December


£180 deposit at time of booking – balance payment of project fee due 12 weeks before departure

What's Included

  • A contribution to the project itself including funding for activities with the orphans and building and farming materials, as well as operational costs such as housing, communication and project vehicles
  • Airport transfers from Durban International Airport on arrival and departure
  • Orientation programme
  • All daily transfers to and from your projects during your stay
  • Housekeeping services
  • Accommodation including 3 meals a day except Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes
  • Support from the local project staff whilst at St Lucia

What's not included

  • Travel insurance to cover your placement (to include cover for repatriation)
  • Transport to Durban International Airport by air or bus
  • Personal items eg clothing, gifts etc
  • Use of internet and telephone
  • Visas and any excursions undertaken other than in the planned programme
  • Soft drinks, wines, spirits, between meal snacks and weekend food
  • Laundry - this can be done weekly for R60

Project Highlights

  • Teach disadvantaged and vulnerable children in the village creches
  • Form close bonds with the village children and their families with whom you will work on a daily basis
  • Help to keep the young people off the street through After-School and Reading Clubs
  • Provide orphans with much needed love, care and stimulation which they would not normally get on a daily basis
  • Help to build, refurbish and paint schools and community buildings
  • Join the family empowerment programme, visiting and helping needy families in the local villages
  • Become immersed in the local Zulu culture while helping the community to achieve a better standard of living
  • Live by the Indian Ocean - with waters full of hippos, crocs, whales and turtles!
  • Take the opportunity for weekend excursions to spot the Big 5!
  • Make friends for life with other international, like-minded volunteers

About the Project

Surrounding the beautiful St Lucia are rural villages, home to many orphans in need of education and care.  With almost 70% of the population believed to be HIV+, many children will have lost one or both parents.  Volunteers will get involved in community projects such as Mother's Support groups and help through gardening, education and building work.  This is a great opportunity to engage with people - young and old - and make a positive impact while having an unforgettable and life-changing experience. 

About the Location

St Lucia is a small, malaria-free tourist town on the north east coast of South Africa.  It is surrounded by a World Heritage site with rugged landscapes and of course the Indian Ocean and several Big 5 game reserves where rhinos, antelope, elephants, and lions can be seen as well as the hippos when they come into town in the evenings!  St Lucia is a great place to visit all year round as it remains warm and hence attracts whales along the coast from June to November and is a prime location to watch turtles hatching on the beach from November to March. The town has restaurants, bars and cafes and in the surrounding area are very rural villages where the weekdays will be spent helping to provide healthcare, education and community development support.

Morning Activities

Orphan Day Care Centre
Several creches and day care centres have been established in Khula to give the local children a meal, some basic education and the care and attention they so often lack at home.  Volunteers will help the caregivers and local teachers with basic learning, fun activities and lots of educational play for the children - on some occasions there are as many as 80 children to be looked after!

Volunteers visit the day care centres every morning (Monday to Friday) and help to take care of the children and teach basic lessons to a class of under 6's.  The help given by the volunteers is essential in the preparation for the children's next step into primary school and helps to enrich their lives through developmental play and education and giving them the individual attention they so desperately need.  Volunteers forge special bonds with the children and it is also good to show the teachers new interactive and engaging teaching methods as many of the teachers have received little or no formal training.

Support Groups and Farming
Each week volunteers will get the chance to get involved in community support groups - helping to deliver basic health, lifestyle and nutrition information to groups of adults of all ages.  It is important that the local population develop positive lifestyle habits and become able to support each other and their community and volunteers play a vital role in getting to know the regulars who come in to discuss their daily struggles and help them to view life from a different perspective.

To help with this volunteers will help to create and maintain vegetable gardens which will supply much-needed healthy food and become more self-sufficient.  Such gardening activities will include digging, weeding, fencing, planting and watering and creating such an on-going project is a great way to contribute as a volunteer.

Afternoon Activities

Orphan-Care After-School Club
Consequent upon the widespread poverty and prevalence of HIV/AIDS in St Lucia the chances of a good upbringing for many children is very low.  Children who attend the After-School Club are often from teenage pregnancies or who have lost one or both parents.  This is a chance to give these children the care and attention that is lacking in their lives and volunteers help with serving lunch and planning and leading some playtime activities for children aged from 7 - 15 years.  These energetic children love playing educational games and sports and the attention they get from the volunteers.

Reading Club
One great asset is a donated shipping container filled with books and games for children and adults.  Past volunteers have helped to turn this container into the village library and a new weekly Reading Club for local teenagers has been introduced and is now one of the most popular projects for both students and volunteers alike as it helps the local people to develop a love of reading and hence an increase in their confidence in English. 

The aim is to provide a relaxed setting and to show that learning and literacy can be fun.  Most weeks it attracts between 30 - 50 teenagers as the schools have very limited resources and text books so volunteers can help to improve reading skills by encouraging the teenagers to read as many books as they can and be proud of their achievements.

Family Empowerment Programme
This programme was established in May 2009 and aims to help the quality of life in a sustainable way for families in urgent need of assistance.  Help is focussed on nutrition and income generation.  The is an amazing outreach project that is only made possible through the help of volunteers who also get a unique insight into how traditional Zulu families live.  It is eye-opening to learn about the struggles that these families face daily and the chance to help with education, nutrition, refurbishment and general home assistance leaves a warm feeling in the hearts of the volunteers.  So far in 2015 help has been given with providing beds, toilets, gardening and access to clean drinking water and the list goes on!

Building and Refurbishment
Community buildings in the villages tend to be run down, particularly in the more rural areas.  Volunteers have helped to refurbish buildings such as schools, orphanages and day care centres and the need for this work continues.  The presence of volunteers is very much appreciated as well as the work done and it all helps to encourage pride in their local community.

HIV/AIDS Awareness Education
There are many myths in South Africa surrounding the issues of HIV/AIDS and education is vital in preventing the spread of infection and breaking down stigma.  The people are often ignorant in the ways of preventing infection and how to deal with the virus once it is present.  If they knew more they could help to fight many of the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic including how to live more healthily, take their medication and thus prolong their lives.  Discrimination is also widespread against those who are HIV positive and this perpetuates the cycle of infection.

Volunteers can help to spread the knowledge and after learning about the two week lesson plan, they will work to:

Explain:  what the HIV/AIDS virus is and how it affects the body (using a simple method approved by the United Nations)
Educate:  how the virus is transmitted and how infection can be prevented
Inform:  how life, after infection, can be prolonged through medication, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle

 A typical day in the life of a volunteer

7.00am    Get up, eat breakfast and get ready to depart for the project
9.00am Start work at the creche.  Volunteers will be engaged in actitivies such as teaching basic English, playing games, singing and assisting the teachers with their lesson plans.
12noon Lunch break when volunteers are picked up from their project and taken to the volunteer house for lunch.
1.30pm Start of the afternoon projects which may include attending suppport groups or family empowerment programme, helping with the orphanage after-school club or reading club, or helping in other community projects such as building or farming.
4.30pm End of the working day when volunteers will be picked up from the project and taken back to the volunteer house.
5.50pm Dinner at the volunteer house.  Evenings are very sociable.  Volunteers discuss their day's work with each other while having dinner together at the house.  Then there is time to prepare the project activities for the following day or perhaps venture out to one of the local night spots. 

Please Note: Volunteers should be prepared for the daily programme to change at short notice to meet the needs of the project. Activities may vary depending upon the experience of the volunteers on the project.

School Holidays

During school holidays volunteers will run a "holiday club".  Activities may differ from the usual schedule but the work will be equally engaging and rewarding. 

Project Support and Orientation:

Volunteers will benefit from the support and guidance of experienced project managers throughout their placement.  Members of the project team stay at the volunteer accommodation so that they are always available to assist with any issues that may arise. Amanzi Travel will be on hand to guide you through the whole pre-arrival procedure and comprehensive information will be provided to ensure you are fully prepared for your placement.  On arrival you will meet Olivia who grew up and studied in England and, after volunteering and travelling in east and southern Africa, has now moved to South Africa and cannot wait to introduce you all to this spectacular country and its people. 

Optional Excursions

These activities are not included in the project fee but can be paid for at the project.  Project co-ordinators can help with making any bookings required.

  • Game drives in the beautiful Hluhluwe and Umfolozi National Parks - R850
  • Whale watching (seasonal - June - November) -  R950
  • Hippo and crocodile tour - R210
  • Weekend trips to the stunning Thanda Private (Big 5) Game Reserve - R1740 per person per night sharing + R1400 transport
  • Dolphin swimming in Mozambique - R4000 per person - includes visa (minimum of 4 persons)
  • Zulu Cultural Night - R150
  • Isimangaliso Night Game Drive - R375
  • Surfing/snorkelling at Cape Vidal (introduction lesson) - R300
  • Horse Ride - one hour - R350
  • Elephant Interaction - R400
  • Visit to Cheetah Centre - prices dependent on number of participants (4 min)
  • Other weekend trip options include:  Turtle tours (seasonal November - March), Kosi Bay, Sodwana Bay, Swaziland, Battlefields, Drakensberg.

Please note: All prices given are a guideline only and are subject to change. None of the above trips are guaranteed departures and are subject to availability and demand.

Getting There

Volunteers should fly into Durban International Airport on their start date where they will be met by a member of the project staff and transferred to the volunteer accommodation.  This is about a 2.5 hour drive. Volunteers will also be returned to Durban International Airport at the end of their placement for their homeward journey.  Volunteers should arrive into Durban by 1.00 pm on their Sunday start date and will be returned to Durban airport by 10.30 am on their day or departure.

Amanzi Travel can help with flight arrangements and volunteers booking their package and flights can take advantage of the company ATOL licence which provides extra cover and peace of mind.  Please ask Amanzi Travel for details.

A perfect way to explore more of Africa

Before heading straight back home, why not take an Overland Journey through Africa to explore more of the wonderful sights and experiences that this beautiful continent has to offer.  You can take a trip that starts and finishes in the same city (eg Windhoek to Windhoek) or you can use it as an opportunity to get your from one city to another (eg Cape Town to Nairobi).

“This has got to be the best way to see Africa in a short period of time ... brilliant. The guides were fantastic, the campsites great, and the food excellent. The overland trip was excellent - really well run”
Southern Sun 21 days, Cape Town to Victoria Falls - Jennie and Stuart, Sweden, aged 32 and 34.

“I didn’t know I could become such close friends with people in just a week. The trip attracts a great group of people who are so easy to get along with. My group ranged from 20 to 70 and we all sat down with a drink, played cards together and just gathered around the campfire.  It was an experience of a lifetime and I will definitely recommend this to my friends and family”
Tanzanian Game Parks and Zanzibar, 10 Days and Masai Mara Safari, 3 Days - Sara, Canada/Malaysia, aged 20.

 From 3 days to 56 days, take a look at the exciting Overland Trips here.

Support and Orientation

Support and advice is available from Amanzi Travel office staff and project/trip leaders. Upon booking, you will receive a comprehensive pre-departure pack that provides all the details you will need to prepare for your trip.  This document includes information on accommodation, staff, visas, optional activities, packing checklist and medical advice and if you have any questions that are not answered in the pack we are always on hand to help and advise. We will do all we can to ensure that you are well prepared and looking forward to your trip. You will also receive an in country orientation on arrival.

A 24 hours a day, 7 days a week emergency contact number is provided for everyone who travels with us.

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence (9401) and is able to arrange your flights on request giving you financial protection for your flight and trip costs. We also offer advice on personal travel insurance for your trip.

St Lucia, South Africa , St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education VolunteerSt Lucia, South Africa , St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education VolunteerSt Lucia, South Africa , St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education VolunteerSt Lucia, South Africa , St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education VolunteerSt Lucia, South Africa , St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education VolunteerVolunteers will be accommodated at the large and comfortable project house in the centre of the town on the main road when entering St Lucia.  It's directly across from a grocery store (Spar), an ATM, service station and within a two block radius of at least five restaurants.  It is a two minute walk to the pharmacy, bank branch, and local fruit and curio market.  The beach is a 20-25 minute walk away.  There is a pool that volunteer can use.

The house has 3 bedrooms and currently can accommodate between 8 - 14 volunteers.  There is a night guard and a safe in the office. 

Three meals a day are provided except for Saturday lunch and dinner and Sunday lunch when the cook is "off duty".  It is a good time to try the local restaurants or cafes and there is a small supermarket nearby.  Dinner costs around £6 - £8 so please allow for this when budgeting.  Breakfast is on a help-yourself basis and usually consists of cereals/yoghurt, toast, tea and coffee. Lunch and dinner are full meals, and will be cooked by the cook at the volunteer house.

Click here to view the full interactive mapSouth Africa - Help Local Communities Get Started

Why visit South Africa?

Every country in the world displays some diversity, but South Africa, stretching from the hippos in the Limpopo River to the penguins waddling on the Cape, takes some beating. There’s the deserted Kalahari, Namakwa’s springtime symphony of wildflowers, iconic Table Mountain and Cape Point, Africa’s biggest game reserve - Kruger National Park - boasting the most mammal species of any game reserve, and the magnificent peaks and plunging valleys of the escarpment of Drakensberg.

Cape Town is widely described as one of the world's most beautiful cities. Some of its more famous landmarks include Table Mountain, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades), Cape Point, Chapman’s Peak, Kirstenbosch Gardens and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. A combination of historical coastal charm and urbane sophistication, Cape Town has some of the finest beaches and is also the gateway to the lush Cape Winelands, famous for world-renowned wines. From here, it is an easy journey to the Whale Route, where Southern Right whales can be seen (June - November) and humpback whales, Bryde's whales, Minke whales and bottlenose dolpins can be viewed year round.

The Garden Route is renowned for its beaches, indigenous forests, nature reserves, lakes, mountain ranges, adventure opportunities and hiking trails. Plettenberg Bay is a relaxed beach paradise with spectacular walks and hikes where one can watch dolphins and whales on eco-marine cruises. With some of the world's finest beaches, the Eastern Cape's untouched and pristine coastline also has a rich social, cultural and political history. Port Elizabeth is the gateway to the Eastern Cape, and the perfect complement to the Garden Route. Cape St Francis is situated on the Indian Ocean coastline, in and around Africa's largest man made web of canals and waterways, and is renowned for its long, sandy beaches, surfing, rock fishing and tranquil lifestyle.

Kruger National Park is the flagship of South Africa's game reserves, offering an unrivalled wildlife experience over two million-hectares. Private concessions operating within and alongside Kruger National Park feature luxurious, exclusive game lodges with many exciting safari activities. Some of these lodges are unfenced, allowing for the free movement of wildlife. Madikwe Game Reserve, in the North West province, is one of South Africa's largest private Big Five game reserves and features numerous lodges and camps. The Waterberg area in the northwest is also malaria-free and is aptly named for its strong streams that flow even in dry seasons, making for excellent game viewing. Both reserves are great for those seeking an accessible malaria-free wilderness experience.

Durban is a sub-tropical city and the gateway to KwaZulu-Natal. It offers a unique mix of Zulu, Indian and colonial cultures. Visit the Anglo-Zulu battlefields, take a fascinating glimpse into Zulu culture, hike in the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains, dive the reefs, marine and coastal reserves of Maputaland, as well as experience Big Five game reserves. The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve is renowned for saving the white rhino from the brink of extinction, and Phinda Private Game Reserve is well known for its award-winning lodges and conservation initiatives.

Johannesburg meaning "Place of Gold", is South Africa's economic powerhouse. This vibrant and cosmopolitan city is home to many attractions including the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, and also offers shopping from world-class to atmospheric curio markets. Known as the "Jacaranda City", the state capital of Pretoria features beautiful blossoming trees, significant old buildings and fascinating museums, including the Transvaal Museum, home of Mrs Ples, the australopithecine fossil found at the Cradle of Humankind.

Highlights of South Africa

  • Breathtaking scenery, quaint coastal villages, cosmopolitan cities, wine routes and exclusive bush lodges.
  • Exciting Big Five safaris in unspoilt wilderness areas.
  • Malaria-free game viewing and sunshine all year round.
  • See Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held in prison for 27 years.
  • Go up Table Mountain by cable car for stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and beautiful Cape Town.
  • Whale watching and great white shark cage diving.
  • Beautiful, pristine beaches perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
  • The Cradle of Humankind: Sterkfontein is one of the world's most productive and important palaeoanthropological sites.


For Johannesburg:

Seasons Max Min
Summer (September - April) 25 °C 10 °C
Winter (May - August) 19 °C 4 °C
Rainfall: October to March, with November to January heaviest

South Africa has typical seasons of weather for the southern hemisphere, with the coldest days in July-August. The Benguela Current, a cold motion that moves from the lower South Atlantic Ocean, causes moderate temperatures on the West Coast. On the central plateau, which includes Free State and Gauteng provinces, the altitude keeps the average temperatures below 30 °C.In winter, also due to altitude, temperatures drop to freezing point, and in some places, even lower. Heavy snows have fallen recently for the first time in decades in Johannesburg. During winter, it is warmest in the coastal regions, especially on the Eastern Indian Ocean coast and Garden Route, where it has year round mild weather with occasional rain. As winter is cooler and drier, it is more suitable for hiking and outdoor pursuits, and is also a good time for game viewing as vegetation is less dense and thirsty animals congregate around rivers and other permanent water sources.

In summer, South Africa experiences the hottest temperatures and this is generally when most rain falls, October – March. However, there is one exception -  the Western Cape, which is a winter-rain area that enjoys a Mediterranean climate (average 26°C).

Christmas to mid-January, and Easter are the height of the peak season for visitors.
Autumn (April/May) and Spring (mid-Sept to November) are ideal almost everywhere.

Key Facts

Population – 50 million

Capital – Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), Cape Town (legislative)
Currency – Rand (ZAR)

Official Language(s) – Afrikaans, English (South African English), Southern Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu
Time difference – GMT +2 hours

Telephone – country code 27, international access code 00

St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education Volunteer

I had a really great two weeks, and met some truly inspirational people in the local community and made some great friends with the other volunteers. 

Katie, UK, aged 18 (St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education Volunteer)

St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education Volunteer

My experience in South Africa was simply amazing. I arrived with another volunteer, and after a few hours spent recovering from our flight at the house (which is much more luxurious than you'd expect!) we were thrown straight into the project; given a quick tour of Khula Village and shown each of the projects that we would be working on over the next few weeks, and the next day we started teaching the kids at the daycare - like nothing I have ever experienced before! The kids are all just excited to be learning and playing with volunteers from all over the world, and the Zulu teachers and staff at the house were all friendly and welcoming. There is nothing I can say to describe the kids that would be adequate – they’re so outgoing and just happy that you're there - within my first few minutes on my first day I had at least 4 around me wanting to be held or highfived!

An element of the project which I found I enjoyed beyond my expectations was the HIV education - we taught a small group of adults a set course about HIV, which was run every Tuesday - Friday, and then repeated with different people weekly. The way that the schedule was worked out meant that I took part on this afternoon project the majority of the time, and in this way I really got to know much more about the situation (especially in this specific part of South Africa), and felt that this project made a huge impact on the community. Me and one other volunteer also took time out of daycare in the morning to go and teach a similar syllabus to teenagers in the local primary school - set up in a similar way, but much more fun and interactive! And just the test results at the end of the courses were simple proof of the positive impact that this project has on the area.

The other afternoon projects were equally as rewarding - whether we spent our time helping to build the new daycare centre for the children (which is looking brilliant now!!), painting the mural in the village's church, farming in either the HIV Support Garden or plot or working on the lesson plans for the next week of daycare. Whilst working on these projects we were often joined by people from the village who came to help; we met some great people from the area this way! 

There was also a huge range of things to do in our freetime, which helped to contribute to an all-around African experience - whether it was just going into St Lucia for a night in a bar (which we did frequently), or in the daytime to do some haggling at the local craft market, or bigger things like all-day safaris (me and a few of the other volunteers did this as well as an overnight stay in a safari-park, which was absolutely stunning!). We also did whale-watching trips, tours of the estuary by boat in search for hippos and crocs (although a couple of the other volunteers saw hippos around the roads of St Lucia!), and even just walking around St Lucia, down to the beach and estuary, was well worth doing - we found an amazing art market, and by that I mean one man with his amazing paintings hanging on a washing line! I only went for a few weeks, but by the time I left I felt that I had found a second home in St Lucia - the place itself, and especially the people in Khula village, are just so friendly, and you get to know it all so quickly.

Jenny, UK aged 17 (St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education Volunteer)

St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education Volunteer

Amanzi Travel kept close contact with me before my departure, and answered all of my mum’s questions, as she became more nervous about my expedition.

Despite being told not to have favourites at the daycare centre, everyone does, and this really does help the child develop more. I became close to one boy who was considered a nuisance and always ran away during class, and didn’t seem to like talking to people, but by giving attention and help to him, I really felt an impact on how much he wanted to be with the group and listening in class. The afternoon projects were more obvious to see the impact, as people passed their HIV education tests, fences were built...

Thomas, UK, aged 17 (St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education Volunteer)

St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education Volunteer

At the orphanage...lived children from 10 to 14 years old who took care of themselves. They had no guardian or teacher to watch out for them. There were also younger children, from newborns to 9 year olds, that were cared for by substitute families that lived in poverty. Their homes had neither water nor electricity. They had to carry water from outside wells and water tanks every day so they could hydrate themselves, take showers, brush their teeth and clean their clothes. Most of them slept on the floor with a blanket; they ate with their hands. I was shocked because I took so many things in my life for granted and these children had literally nothing and still you could see so much happiness in their faces. They had nothing, but somehow had everything and enjoyed every minute, they saw their world with very different eyes than how we, the volunteers, saw it.

In the morning I taught at the preschool. Our afternoons were spent doing community service work. We painted school walls, we built a new school made of wood, we also planted a garden that would provide food for sick people that had HIV and were not in a condition to work or to buy food.

Once, we took boxes filled with donations to another school. They only had paper and pens. When we took out our things the teacher was so happy that tears came out of her eyes and the whole class started celebrating and couldn’t stop thanking us. We had brought books, colour markers and notebooks. I just wanted to cry, I couldn’t feel any happier for what I was doing.

How can something that is insignificant to many people, can be gold to others? This taught me the value of things. I learned that with small actions we can truly change someone’s world for the better. I also have learned that our world and our surroundings can be as beautiful and special, or as ugly as we choose to see them. It is just the colour of the glasses that we wear that will give us the colour of the world we see.

Finally, there is responsibility. Those kids taught me that being responsible is all about trust; it’s about caring so much about something you can’t leave it incomplete because you know someone is counting on you.

Adriana and Stephanie, Venezuela, aged 21 and 18 (St Lucia Orphan Care and HIV Education Volunteer)

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