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Life As An Intern With The Happy Africa Foundation

    "While most people I know left University and headed straight into that coveted graduate job or went on to masters degree programmes, I took a whole different route that has completely changed my life.     Interning for The Happy Africa Foundation has been the most challenging, rewarding, breathtaking and educational experience I have ever had the privilege of having. In Livingstone I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing people who not only come from a diverse range of countries and backgrounds but who also share a great passion for helping the vulnerable people in the impoverished communities that we support.   Interning can be challenging in that you have to learn to see things from a sustainable point of view, to decrease dependency and to empower people to develop for themselves. This may take patience but the rewards that are to be gained are greater than if we just donated money or resources for short term gain.   Such rewards are knowing that a build project can increase a schools capacity to educate a community's youth or can provide a secure premises for a clinic so that medical waste is not stolen or misused – limiting the spread of diseases. However the greatest reward that I have personally felt is just to be recognised within the community, to have people see you and smile just because they know you are taking an interest in their futures, able to partner with them for a better life. Just being the face of someone who cares, to provide support and hope to those who need it most is utterly priceless.   In addition you cannot ask for a more beautiful work space, the sun is shining the majority of the time, you can open the door in the morning and immediately be happy because it is another lovely day holding so much potential and wonder. The sunsets are beautiful here and the spray from the stunning Victoria Falls came be seen from Livingstone town.   Finally the internship provides you with at least six months to really evaluate what is important in this world. To learn so much about yourself, what you are capable of and who you want to be. To see how others live around you, to immerse yourself in another culture; in traditions, languages, music and the religion of others. Not only do you get a chance to pass on your own specific skills and develop projects to your own strengths but you learn new ones and are continually picking up new bits of information and seemingly random yet surprisingly useful facts.   I cannot claim that a programme like this is a once in a lifetime experience… simply because you will want to return to the projects here again and again and again as I have but it certainly is an opportunity not to be missed."     For more information on our Happy Africa Internships click here. Happy Africa Internships are available in Livingstone in Zambia, and also in Cape Town, St Lucia, and Thanda in South Africa.     About the Author   My name is Shelley Tomkins and I grew up in the North West of England in a small town called Southport. Growing up I was always fascinated by one of our family photo albums, it contained pictures of me, age two, in Zimbabwe. I always sort of told myself that one day I would make it back to where those photos were taken and take some of my own, ones I could remember. So in the summer of 2011 I took my first trip to Victoria Falls to do 6 weeks of volunteering on one of African Impact's community projects. Needless to say I fell in love, or caught the bug, or just enjoyed myself too much to let it be a one time thing. Therefore after returning to the UK to finish my degree in Management and Organisation studies from Lancaster University, I also booked my return trip to Victoria Falls and applied for the Livingstone Internship. The projects that I have had the chance to work on have truly changed my outlook and have encouraged me to continue a career in NGO work and volunteering.  

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