Olivia is the Marketing Coordinator for African Impact and is based from our Head Office in Cape Town. Having spent a lot of time working from our Cape Town project, she tells us a little bit about her new role and what volunteering has meant to her - as well as some tips for upcoming volunteers!
So tell us a little bit about your journey with African Impact so far...
I started with African Impact in early 2015, joining as one of their awesome Destination Specialists for our South African volunteer projects - that meant that I helped to prepare upcoming volunteers for their placements in Africa and I was lucky enough to be based from the volunteer house in Cape Town - a place which instantly felt like a home away from home. After an amazing year with the hardest working colleagues I've ever known, I have recently moved into a new role in our Head Office (also in Cape Town!) and I’m absolutely loving being able to play a big role in our marketing department. We’re a relaxed bunch in the office and it’s great to be working around some really inspiring people who also love this continent.
What do you love most about your job?
By far it’s being able to share with the world on social media the fantastic work our staff and volunteers are doing on the ground. I'm very lucky to receive regular updates from all of our projects (it's a challenge - we have so many!) so putting that out there for others to see is exciting. It gives me a great opportunity to be creative, fun and means every day in the office is different. Most of all, being able to see the achievements and day to day goings-on from each project means I'm constantly reminded that I'm working for an organisation who is committed to making positive, sustainable change - I've always wanted to work for a cause I'm passionate about and I can truly say I love my job.
Give us some highlights during your time on AI projects
I’ve been lucky enough to spend a considerable amount of time on our Cape Town community projects and also visit our Zululand projects too, so it’s difficult to pick! I’d say that one of my top highlights – and one of the proudest initiatives I was a part of - was when I helped the Cape Town project team and volunteers with a charity-funded trip up Table Mountain. We took over 150 disadvantaged children up to the top of the mountain, which - for many of the kids - was their first time into the city centre, let alone on a cable car 1000m up into the air! The look on their faces was just something I will never forget and being able to be a part of that joy really was a big deal for me.
What would be your advice for future volunteers?
Don’t sit back – I know it is scary traveling alone, arriving in a foreign country and putting yourself out of your comfort zone, but the more you put in the more you will get out. It’s extremely easy to feel a little shy when meeting a new group of people (whether that is volunteers or the amazing community members you will meet), but put yourself out there – chat, ask questions, embrace the scary – don’t hide away. I promise you that it is worth it and you’ll walk away with a whole new family.
If you could only choose one destination in Africa to spend the rest of your life, where would you pick and why?
I’m extremely lucky to be working in my favourite destination in Africa – Cape Town. Having travelled most of East and Southern Africa, there is no other place that offers you the ocean, mountains, forest, nature and still have the comforts of a city – I’d pretty much say there is nowhere else in the world that offers that! The lifestyle and people of South Africa are so easy-going, relaxed and it's a place I can see myself staying for a long time.
Two truths, one lie (Answers at the bottom!):
I’m obsessed with rhinos
My greatest achievement is climbing Kilimanjaro
I have travelled to all seven continents
Truth, Truth, Lie (I wish!)