Sometimes volunteers have such a great time, they decide to return for a second go! Whether it's to another African Impact project or back to the same location, being a repeat volunteer is a great experience. Arriving with all the nerves and insecurities of a first-time volunteer already ironed out, a 'volunteer victory lap' is fulfilling in a whole different way. Last year I made the decision to spend two months volunteering on the St. Lucia Orphan Day Care and HIV Education project. At the time, two months seemed like a really long time to be in a country that I had never been to with people I had never met. What I soon realized was that the weeks flew by, and I was not ready to leave when my two months were up. When I got home, I constantly missed being out in the communities teaching at crèche, playing at afterschool club, and spending Friday afternoons at Reading Club. I hoped that I would be able to return to the projects in St. Lucia, and I am so lucky that I was able to return for another two months this year.
I have been back in St. Lucia for two weeks now, and it has been amazing to be working in the communities again. I have spent my mornings teaching at a crèche where the kids are full of energy at all times. I always leave the crèche feeling like I could sleep for the rest of the day, but it has been so rewarding to see the kids catching on to concepts and learning. I have been on many different projects in the afternoon, from afterschool clubs to gardening. I always love the afternoons, because it switches things up from my morning routine at crèche. I also love how many different people I get to encounter on these afternoon projects. Although I have already met so many great kids and people that I did not know last year, one of my favorite things so far has been seeing how some of the kids that I got to know last year have grown and changed. When I was here last year, I met the three brothers, who are now part of the 10 Families Program. When I met them they weren’t in school and they were not being tutored at all. They are such great kids, and it broke my heart that they were not able to go to school. Now the oldest, Bhekesisa, is in school and Siboniso and Phileni are improving a lot. They will hopefully be going to school soon, as well! It makes me so happy to be able to see this growth, and to see Bhek wearing his school uniform proudly. Another moment that has been a highlight so far happened at reading club last Friday. When I arrived at reading club I was quickly greeted by Nothando, an 11-year-old girl who I got to know well last summer. She told me how much she missed me and how she was worried that I wouldn’t come back. This moment really showed me that being here does make a difference and reassured me that I made the right decision to come back. I was also able to tell how much she has improved since last year. First of all, her English is unbelievable. I was amazed. She has also become a lot more confident and more of a leader, which is so great to see. Seeing the three brothers and Nothando have definitely been the highlights of my time so far. My first two weeks have definitely been exhausting, but it feels amazing to be back. In a way, I feel like I am back home. I cannot wait to experience these next six weeks, and I know I will be just as sad as I was last year when my time is up. About the author Reed Turner is considered a bit of a legendary African Impact volunteer because of her enthusiasm, hard-working nature and involvement from home! She is a two-time volunteer with African Impact at our St Lucia, South Africa location. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, she is currently attending Furman University in South Carolina. Reed even keeps involved with African Impact from home by fundraising for our charity The Happy Africa Foundation and promoting volunteering through our Ambassador Program. Go, Reed! Do you want to make an impact in the lives of children in rural South Africa through tutoring and reading clubs like Reed has? Join our Orphan Day Care & HIV/AIDS Education project, or our Vulnerable Children and Rural Family Support project at the same location.