Friday, 28 December 2012

VA32 launch Rhino Ambassador Stewardship Project (RASP)

The latest addition to the Volunteer Africa project base addresses a very real threat to South Africa’s conservation efforts and the world’s population of rhino. In the two articles which preceded this one I explained how the rhino is facing extinction in South Africa due to poachers and what you can do to help fight this problem.

In this final article VA32 offers an opportunity to be physically involved in conservation work which supports the efforts of anti-poaching organisations in South Africa. This opportunity is a break-away from what has become the norm in volunteer programs and puts the onus on the volunteer to continue their work and raise awareness of the plight of the rhino after leaving the physical aspect of the project in South Africa.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Save the Rhino: what can be done and how you can do your bit...

Last week we published an article The Iconic Rhino Faces Extinction in South Africa, about the plight of the rhino and the dangers facing this beautiful creature which is such an icon of Africa. This week I wanted to share with you what is being done in this country to tackle the situation and what you can do to do your bit.

Anti-Poaching Agencies and Organisaitons are attempting to:
  • Protect existing key rhino populations through trained conservationists and awareness in nearby communities.
  • Break the trade chains and increase law enforcement around rhino poaching.
  • Improve communications between South Africa and the horn consumer countries in the East. On 10th December a deal was signed between South Africa and Vietnam in an attempt to slow the demand for the rhino horn and crack down on poachers and the organised crime around this issue. 
  • Experts are trying to understanding the rhino horn trade and influence the buyers as to the effects of the poaching on the rhino population.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Volunteers Work to Complete Chintsa Creche

It's the start of the Summer Season here in Chintsa and our first group of International Student Volunteers arrived early in December. These groups of volunteers join us for 2 weeks and work on high impact projects in the Chintsa community. 

The first group of the year had a huge challenge with 11 volunteers and only 2 weeks to get the new Chintsa creche prepared for school to begin in the new term and ensure that it is ready to be handed over to the village by the 7th Jan 2013! 

The creche was started by last seasons ISV volunteer groups, the "shell" was in place and it was the responsibility of this group to try to complete the inside of the creche building, and the fencing around the creche. 

Monday, 17 December 2012

Volunteering in Chintsa Through Sofia & Annika's Eyes

Moloweni! Kunjani?

We've been traveling around for almost 1 and a half months right now and during 2 weeks of this time we spent some lovely time in Chintsa. We started off our trip in Africa in Namibia and the capital Windhoek and moved south into South Africa. When we found ourselves in Cape Town we decided that we wanted to use the BazBus Hop-on-Hop-off ticket and when looking through our alternatives on their website we saw that they offered a package deal, which included a certain amount of week volunteering. This had been something that we had been very interested in already before and were therefore very intrigued when we discovered this option. So we bought ourselves a BazBus volunteering package and head off along the coast to experience the lovely Garden Route before reaching Chintsa where we would volunteer in schools.

Friday, 14 December 2012

The Iconic Rhino Faces Extinction in South Africa

The South African plight of the rhino, a member of the infamous Big 5, is finally hitting the news shelves internationally. When VA32 director Mike took part in a networking conference earlier this year he presented our latest volunteer project - the Rhino Ambassador Stewardship Project (RASP) – which puts the onus and responsibility solidly onto the volunteer, to carry their practical experience and knowledge of the rhino, its environment and the dangers that it faces after leaving South Africa, and to engage in the sharing of information on how we can stop the eradication of the rhino species in Africa. Unfortunately at the time we presented the project Mike was told that the world wasn't aware of the plight of the rhino. It wouldn't sell. So this project has been quietly sitting on our website for months as the state of the rhino population in South Africa has been forced down by more and more poachers. This year alone 618 rhinos have died at the hands of poachers – as I worked on this article over the past week that number has risen at least twice. Now I think it’s time to educate, to push this cause and to call for action from our international community of volunteers, followers and subscribers. Something needs to be done to stop this and we need your help.

Monday, 10 December 2012

15 Top Tips on Volunteering in Chintsa, South Africa

Volunteer co-ordinator Katie asked last seasons ISV Group Volunteers to put together a list of top tips for this seasons volunteers...we've picked out the 15 best tips to share with you!

  1. When someone tries to buy you for 30 cows, always try for 60.
  2. Buy from the street vendors while it's sunny and you have the chance. You never know the next time they'll be out.
  3. Don't be afraid to try Bantu's food - it's amazing and there's always seconds!
  4. Don't miss out on going to Mama Tofu's for an in-depth talk on sex education.
  5. Wake up for the sunrise.
  6. Screw "Hakuna Matata" - it's all about "Molo Yolo"!
  7. The locals around here are super cool so get to know them and their stories.
  8. Practice your Xhosa throughout the workday, it's surprisingly easier than you initially think!
  9.  Try every chocolate bar but guard your chocolate and stay away from the cherry chappies. Cadburys Top Deck is the best!
  10. Take advantage of Miller's strength and Denver's beauty.
  11. Take care of your cameras! Beware of sand and small children!
  12. Beware of the monkeys!
  13. Always thank Kwezi for the food, get to know her and help her out.
  14. No matter what enjoy every minute of your time in Chintsa, it really will fly by!
  15. Man up and work hard!
To see photos of the ISV Groups' experience in Chintsa (and maybe shed some light on a few of these tips!) check out our Flickr collection!

To all of our past volunteers - do you have any tips to add to the list? Please comment and share them below! 

Thanks to all of the ISV volunteers who contributed to this awesome (extremely entertaining) list of tips for our future volunteers and of course a massive thanks to Katie Ryan - our volunteer co-ordinator who goes above and beyond! :)


Friday, 7 December 2012

Volunteers Learn Xhosa with Tobz

A Short Introduction to the Xhosa Language

There are 11 official languages of South Africa and Xhosa is widely known as the second most spoken language in the country with 18% of population speaking it (that’s roughly 7.9 million people!). Xhosa is a Bantu language – the people who speak it are known as the amaXhosa and the language is known as isiXhosa. In English we call both the people and the language simply “Xhosa”.
Xhosa is a very unusual language for the Western ear – it is very tonal and consists of several different clicking sounds. And it can be extremely difficult to learn – the consonants have unusual sounds and are very close together, add in the clicks and the challenge is really on!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

ISV Impact Volunteers - Round-up Group 6 (Final Group)

It's been a long time coming but check out the images of our final group of impact volunteers of the Winter Season 2012! This group helped with a really vital project long over due in Chintsa. Chintsa had no "official" crèche or crèche building although loving local lady Bantu takes in small children and cares for them while their parents and carers were at work. Our final group of volunteers helped to make Bantu's dream come true and built her a safe place to care for a play with the youngest children of Chintsa.

Check out our slideshow of pictures below:

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Part 2: Volunteers Charlotte & Laura - the end of the adventure!

Here's the second part of Charlotte's awesome vlog documenting her return here to volunteer on the Wild Coast Schools Program with friend Laura...

Part ii.
So, time in Chintsa isn’t the same as time as anywhere else. Where has two weeks gone? Frankly I have no idea.
Kids walking into school in the morning

Chintsa East school is brimming with enthusiastic kids, who pop up at the start of school asking “Grade 2 computers?” and when the answer is yes, you get a sunny and excited smile. 
After finishing building mind maps using Microsoft Word we mixed things up a bit and studied landfill sites! Grades 6 and 7 started to make their own Powerpoint presentations on the topic. Volunteer Steffi and I have learnt the important lesson of strategic seating in the classroom and behaviour noting!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Other Half; Reflections on an Extraordinary Volunteer Experience in South Africa

When Andrew arrived in Chintsa in 2011 to volunteer with a group of ten other International Student Volunteers (ISV) I'm not sure he was quite prepared for the extraordinary experience that he was about to embark upon. Since his time with VA32 in South Africa, Andrew has put energy into reflecting on what he learnt about himself in relation to the Chintsa community and his home community and we are lucky enough to have been included in those reflections and thoughts.

Andrews blog "An Extraordinary ISV Experience in South Africa" has been published on the ISV website:

Volunteers on site in South Africa
An Extraordinary ISV Experience in South Africa 
"Four barren walls sit roofless above a decrepit foundation. In a small village on the Wild Coast of South Africa, this hollow structure echoes of failed government policy and the lingering effects of apartheid. Its initial intentions stood for a noble cause: to bring an additional classroom to an over-populated school. Yet, its realization was halted due to dried up government funds. Instead, it sat vacant for years, occasionally harboring valueless items from local villagers in need of storage..."

Friday, 14 September 2012

Guest Vlog Part 1: Volunteers Charlotte & Laura hit Chintsa to volunteer with VA32

A lovely guest vlog by returning volunteer Charlotte who first volunteered in 2007 and returned to Chintsa for a month this Aug/Sept with her friend Laura...

Part i. 
Stunning view from the Buccaneers road
Five hours of bumpy road later, after Port Elizabeth we reach the paradise that is Chintsa. With a sunny day to greet us it was great to hop into VA32’s Quantum. We meet Naomi the volunteer co-ordinator and pop to the office for a spot of volunteer orientation from the bubbly Karen. Meeting familiar faces along the way (one of VA32’S founders Mike and tour guide Denver were both around). I became tour guide for Laura and we explored Chintsa, ending with a drink at Buccaneers Backpackers looking over the sea.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

ISV Impact Volunteers - Round up Group 5! (Plus Chintsa's very own SCARED)

The last two ISV teams may have left Chintsa a few weeks ago but neither they nor the hard work that they put in here in Chintsa have been forgotten! This awesome team totally brightened up Chintsa with their musical ways and fun "Scare" tactics (Milton & Denver will never be the same again!) as well as putting in some much needed hard work uplifting the Bulugha School Creche. Check out our slideshow below of their time in Chintsa...

If you cannot view this slideshow properly click here to visit the set on Flickr.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A Note from Past Volunteer Claire & a VERY Successful Fundraising Event!

A note from past volunteer Claire who joined the Wild Coast Schools volunteer program in 2010 for 4 weeks and recently organised a big fundraising concert in France, to support the VA32 volunteer programs which receive no government support:

Hi everybody!

I'm so, so glad the donation will help and I am absolutely thrilled I could keep on supporting Chintsa. I've fallen in love with the place, the kids, you guys and the amazing work you're doing every day to improve everyone's standard of living.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Volunteering in the Big Green E Machine!

Inside the Big Green eMachine
This week has been an exciting week for the Big Green E Machine. We are now running off solar power! In addition, the Big Green E Machine is up and running with educational computer games. This week we are working with the younger learners at both Chintsa East School and Bulugha Farm School, focusing on letter recognition.  The learners absolutely LOVE going for lessons in the Big Green. One of our volunteer groups contributed headphones so the kids can even learn with sound. The kids were so thrilled when they put their headphones should've seen their faces! All of them came out of the Big Green with huge smiles.
The new solar panels which now power the Big Green!

Nici teaching in the lab
Our learners hard at work :)


ISV Impact Volunteers - Round up Group 4!

Group 4 of our fabulous Winter Season of impact volunteers left Chintsa around 2 weeks ago - their work on the Chintsa Sports Field was awesome! The fencing of the volleyball & netball courts is completed and they even added a genius entrance to stop goats getting into the court! Check out their work in the slideshow below...

Friday, 13 July 2012

ISV Impact Volunteers - Round up Group 3!

Group 3 of the Winter seasons impact volunteer groups left South Africa a few weeks ago having worked like troopers on improving the Chintsa Sports Field facilities. From fencing to digging trenches and building seating area's this awesome group of volunteers did us proud. Check out their work in the slideshow below!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Diary of a Volunteer in South Africa


First day of school!  And it actually is as exciting as a first day of school when I was a kid.  Today we went to the Bulugha school and helped with the preschool class.  Learning the names will be quite the task, let alone pronouncing them correctly, but that’s the goal.  Xhosa is the language spoke by most.  Xhosa incorporates all types of tongue clicking that has so far been lost on me.  I can only imagine it’s a skill you are born with.  My hope is to master it enough so as not to be laughed at by the time I leave. 

The schoolroom is probably an 8x8 ft. room at best.  But there are 30 kids that couldn’t be happier to be there.  It’s amazing how quickly they latch on to you.  “Miss! Miss! Miss!” is quite endearing.  We taught them the letter “C” today.  Played outside (sharks and minnows – if anything is a universal game, it’s that), colored and sang songs.  All while overlooking a field of zebras. 

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Conservation Volunteers get up Close and Personal with a Rhino

It's been an incredible week for our conservation volunteer Marco who's been with VA32 for the last month - not only did the conservation team re-locate two buffalos but they also darted a fully grown Rhino!
Marco & the conservation volunteer team with the rhino

Thursday, 14 June 2012

ISV Impact Volunteers - Round up Group 2!

Group 2 of our Winter season ISV left Chintsa at the end of last week. Check out our slideshow of the volunteers at work! They successfully transported the volleyball field from the lower level of the Sports Centre field to the upper level, where it will sit next to the new netball field.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Chintsa Sports Field development...

Exciting times for our local sports facility as there was another addition; that being our new volleyball court.  With the help of our ever enthusiastic and energetic ISV volunteers this was made possible in only a short time.  The beach volleyball court has been a massive magnet for the young kids as they hang out in the sand when we're not playing, and are rather bemused when we do have a full  game!!  With the help of our VA sports programme we intend to teach and train the kids to enjoy this "new" game and hopefully eventually grow some serious talent.  It's been a huge effort from all involved and a massive thanks to all who contributed.


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Greensleeves Children's Home - A Volunteer Africa Initiative

 Greensleeves is situated on a farm and is home to orphaned, abandoned or abused children. Volunteers often say that going to Greensleeves every week is one of their favourite activities. Volunteers provide the children with much needed attention and love--we  take the children swimming at the big damn that is on the property, go for walks, do arts and crafts, or play on the playground. Despite the fact that the children have come from difficult backgrounds, the children at Greensleeves are full of smiles and always eager to play. Here are some pics from some of our recent visits!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

ISV Impact Volunteers- Group 1 Round-up!

Group 1 of our ISV Impact Groups left Chintsa at the end of last week - exhausted but looking forward to their onward trip and having accomplished tons! Chek out our photo slideshow to see what our volunteers got up to!

If you can't see the slideshow properly in the vlog click here to view it in flickr!


Monday, 28 May 2012

Vlogging the Volunteer Africa Way

Well well well. A volunteer blog. Technology is an amazing thing, but it is also another time demand in an already tight delivery schedule most of us are faced with. However, I do feel this platform will provide the volunteering sector with an opportunity to voice their experiences as volunteers. Designing projects and implementing them is very different to being a volunteer on a project. VA32 through my eyes must be very different to VA32 through a volunteer's eyes, and we really want to understand how you, our volunteers, experience projects.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Volunteer Africa Preschool Program...a small introduction

            Chintsa Preschool 

Nokuphumla--our grade R teacher
When you walk into the preschool at Chintsa East  you will be greeted with a warm hug from Nokuphumla and a classroom full of smiles.  Nokuphumla is full of energy and always has time for a child that is upset. She is a dedicated teacher  and a second mother to  the thirty five children who are in Grade R (Grade Reception). Nokuphumla has really made the Grade R classroom a special place. Volunteer Africa  and individuals from the community have  also put a lot of work and time in over the years to create an amazing Grade R classroom. There is plenty of space for the kids to read, play and do all kinds of activities! Outside we have awesome playgrounds that have been built by International Student Volunteers for the kids to play on during break. 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Clipping a lion’s toe-nail? All in a day’s work for a volunteer on the Wildlife & Conservation Program

It’s been a hectic few weeks for volunteer Bernadette who is joining us from Germany on the VA32 Wildlife & Conservation volunteer program for a month. The week began with the relocation of a HUGE buffalo - “Much heavier than a cow”…is how co-ordinator Dennis described the beast…just how many cows Dennis has attempted to pick up we have not dared to ask!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Volunteer Africa Impact Projects – making an impact on South Africa

As well as running long term volunteer programs and initiatives which need volunteers to drive these projects’ aims and tasks on a daily basis, resulting in each volunteer contributing their time and energy to a small (but very important!) part of a larger project, VA32 along with other local organisations and people (namely the Friends of Chintsa) ear-mark “High Impact” projects which need a short burst of physical energy to get them off the ground, give them a boost or maintain their running. These short term projects sometimes work in conjunction with the longer term volunteer programs for example, building and decorating a new computer lab for a Wild Coast School or re-vamping a pre-school classroom and ablution facilities. Other times they support other areas of the community development of Chintsa for example, upgrading an old dilapidated shipping container into a working clinic or turning an old dumping ground into a safe and fun play area for the children of the village.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Big Green goes GREEN!

It may be difficult to imagine that any object called “the Big Green e-Machine” could possibly get greener…but it’s true! This big green box which was transformed from a dis-used old tour land rover, into an inspirational mobile learning centre over the last 18 months has just had solar panels fitted to its roof and hooked up to central batteries which power it’s 15 laptop computers making the Big Green totally independent of any mains power supply!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Welcome to our Vlog (also known as the Volunteer Africa Blog!)

It’s about time VA32 joined the blogging world – so here we have it! There’s so much going on in Chintsa and on our projects every day that we want to be able to keep our network of supporters, past volunteers, potential future volunteers and anyone interested in volunteering in general, up-to-date.