Last semester I took up a course know as ‘thinking about volunteering” under a global citizenship program. At the university of cape town last year, I volunteered with engineers without borders and SHAWCO. Before the course, I was volunteering without thinking. After my 2hours or days work of volunteering ,I return home to continue with my life normally. With “thinking about volunteering” ,I was given a chance to reflect on why I got into volunteering and look at the impact of volunteering on me and the community.
My first time to volunteer was with SHAWCO.SHAWCO is an university organisation that gives university students a chance tutor kids in townships and orphanages. I was assigned to tutor at an orphanage located in athelono in cape town. Most of the volunteers were American exchange students. Since it was the volunteers first visit, there was no tutoring and it was going to be an introductory session. As soon we arrived at the orphanage, the kids(3-15 years) were ecstatic to see the volunteers. The kids were really fascinated by the American exchange students and the other white people and were keen to play with them. On my side, they were completely uninterested in playing with me. Initially it didn’t bother me since this it was the first meeting.
On our second visit I was super amped and ready to tutor. When we arrived at the orphanage ,we asked what age group we would like to tutor. I selected 10-12 year olds. So a certain number of volunteer were assigned to different age groups. I happened to be the only black in my volunteer group. When it came to tutoring, all the kids went to the white students and completely ignored me. None of kids wanted to be tutored by me L.Well the other volunteers who I was with had to divide the kids amongst us sensing the situation. I got over this and went straight to tutoring once a child was assigned to me. The girl who I was tutoring seemed very unhappy since she didn’t get white person. Midway the tutoring session she requested for a toilet break and didn’t return. I was so disheartened by this, I didn’t return to next volunteer session.
Now, when I look back, I shouldn’t have given up and the children weren’t to blame for the way they acted. White people to the kids meant more developed and a better life while black people represented the opposite. “Thinking about volunteering” course really changed my mind set. When volunteering, think about what they actually community needs by doing research and involved with community and not coming with your ideas and trying to impart them onto the community.