Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Volunteering with the African Angels - South Africa

With an outbreak of volunteers filling Chintsa East School and Bulugha Farm School the Wild Coast Schools Project had a rare opportunity to undertake our first computer project in the brand new African Angel’s computer lab and we were welcomed by a hoard of children eagerly awaiting to use it. 

“Who’s on computers today? Who’s on computers today?” The children run up and ask the volunteers as soon as they step foot in the African Angels School. It’s an absolute novelty for them, the brand new computer lab, and it’s so refreshing to see the children so enthused about learning.

Our project was to be based around the environment. The children were given their own individual plant and then taught how to go about caring for the plant and the daily jobs they would have to undertake in order to keep it alive, such as making sure it’s getting plenty of sunshine and water. With a huge help from the fantastic Kate who works for Friends of Chintsa, we collected propagation's from existing trees and plants, 40 cups, plenty of gravel, mud and water, a huge helping hand from the fabulous volunteers and 40 planted propagation's later we were ready to get the project started at the school.
Kate and the volunteers preparing a plant
each for the Angels

Using the computers, the kids were set the task to make an acrostic poem using the first letter of every line to spell out ‘MY PLANT’ on Microsoft Word. Once completed they would use Microsoft Publisher to create a 4 page care guide for their plant and putting their poem on the back page.  
Volunteer Sarah with the Angels in their
new computer lab

The children fell in love with their plants from the moment they were handed to them. From the smiles across their little faces, the hugs and the kisses they gave their plants to writing on their care guides that they need to love them and they need to sing to them in order for them to grow, shows how important it is for the children to have something to look after and care about. It was an absolute joy to walk into the school every morning and see each grade had lined up their plants along the edge of the pathway, purposely put in the sunshine, taking it in turns to water them carefully. 

It is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching, seeing the children beam with excitement when they have achieved something of substance, when they have understood something they have been trying so hard to grasp. This particularly came to the forefront during this three week project. It was the African Angels children’s first exposure to computer lessons at school and so every little thing they achieved, the elation and delight on their face was unstoppable from colouring the background of their page to changing the colour of their text.

At the end of the 3 week project we asked the older children in grades 2 and 3 if they would like to present the work they had completed to their teacher Tristan. They all jumped at the chance to do so because they were all so proud of what they had achieved. Despite the nerves the children that presented did so with confidence and a real sense of achievement and it was so great that their teacher was able to see the reason behind the 20 odd plants that had been unloaded in to her classroom! 

Me and Charlotte (my fellow co-ordinator) in the
sunshine in Chintsa :-D
I truly hope we are able to undertake another project at African Angels in the near future. A massive thanks needs to be given to Sharon, Tristan and Christie for supporting us through the project we held at African Angels. All our volunteers (Kat, Jana, Sarah and Nino) who had the unique chance to teach at African Angels School fell in love with it and I know they are so grateful they had the opportunity to do so. I myself am also very fortunate to partake in the project; it is amazing to have seen what’s going on at the new school and the remarkable direction it is heading. 

To find out more about VA32 and the Wild Coast Schools Project visit our website at

Laura, VA32 Volunteer Co-ordinator

1 comment:

  1. Great blog Laura - so good to hear how what we can take so for granted can be, what I hear you describe as, magical for others.

    We can be so consumed with our 'plenty' & avarice that the joy of simplicity gets forgotten

    Keep up the good work :-) you and all the other Volunteers