In September, the Gery Family spent two weeks volunteering on our Orphan Care and Teaching Project in Victoria Falls. Read about how this family of four bonded while supporting vulnerable children, teaching, interacting with lions and experiencing such a unique destination.
Victoria Falls – an amazing piece of nature – one of the most amazing in Africa and maybe in the whole world. Amazing views, spectacular amounts of water, the famous rainbow, and loads of activities that draw visitors from all around the world. Victoria Falls – a small town with upscale hotels, fancy gift shops and baboons that run in the streets.
We were lucky enough to get to know the backend of all this – the heart of Victoria Falls. We arrived in mid-September as a family (Gilad (11), Tomer (16) Nurit (Mom) and Amos (Dad)) for two weeks of community volunteering.
The Zimbabwean heat welcomed us together with Audrey, the amazing volunteer coordinator. It took us a day or two to get oriented, get to know the other volunteers and the projects we would be involved with. As the days went by we started getting more and more involved both practically and emotionally. With no doubt the orphanage was the heart of our experience. Every afternoon many kids from the nearby community of Chinotimba came to the orphanage for afternoon activities.
We came here almost every day and got to play with the kids, teach them, sing, dance but mainly won a lot of love from the kids, who were of all ages. We saw how much happiness and warmth these kids experience and share.
In the mornings we were involved in a variety of projects. Gardening with community members affected by HIV, walking with lions and teaching at Monde School. Each one of us was placed in a different class to help a local teacher. Very soon we learned that teachers are often absent – and that we would get our first teaching experience.
Standing in front of 40 kids in a classroom was frightening at first. Later, we used the evenings at the lodge to prepare for class and shared ideas with the family and other volunteers. The kids were well disciplined but teaching was not always easy. School was very different from what we know from back home.
Every week we had a volunteer meeting to discuss and share our thoughts about the projects.
During one of these meetings we discussed the Chinotimba garden project. We realized the garden was already flourishing and we needed to get to the next stage – sales and marketing.
Tomer took responsibility for designing and producing a sign, which will hopefully start bringing customers. It was a great joy to see the sign hanging up in the garden and see a real contribution.
Two weeks went by much quicker than we imagined. These were two amazing weeks as a family. Days to share, to talk, to feel and to love. Days to try new things we never had an opportunity to try before.
We got the opportunity to meet friends from all around the world (and Nicole – our great new Israeli friend), to teach, garden, walk the lions and learn great songs and dances.
But most of all we fell in love with this amazing community – the kids, the staff and Audrey and Norman – two walking souls – our wonderful volunteer coordinators.