Voluntary service: living and helping abroad

Conquer the world with volunteer service

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Why South Africa? After graduating, Vera wanted to go a long way. Not to travel, but to do something useful. South Africa seemed the right choice: a country in transition, socially and politically. For six months she worked and lived in the "Botshabelo Babies Home" - an orphanage between Johannesburg and Pretoria.

In the morning she got up with the little ones, wrapped them and gave them the vial. She played and raved with them, bathed them and took care of their medical care. One third of one to four year olds were HIV positive. The parents were deceased, sick or too poor to look after their children.

Vera with two kids of the Babies Home

Was she afraid of becoming infected with HIV? "Yes, of course," says Vera. The fear often swung along. She was well informed, when she had to protect herself with gloves, and when not. "This is completely irrational, the head actually knows that nothing can happen, but sometimes it just does not feel right."

With the weeks, the fear became less, the work more commonplace, more natural. What remained was astonishment at a country where opposites are constantly colliding: poor and rich, health and disease, life and death. While she gave milk to children at "Babies Home", whose parents could not take care of them, not too far away there were magnificent villas whose inhabitants lived in luxury.

After her return she considered for a long time whether she should not study medicine. In the end, Vera has decided on a different path. She is now studying history, German and literary studies.

What has remained is their need to help and share their experiences. That's why she chooses volunteer service participants for the exchange organization AFS. She prepares them in seminars - and helps them to return after they return home.

You have questions about the volunteer service? Then she puts Vera in our expert consultation in the forum. From 3.12 - to 17.12.2008 she will be happy to help you here


South Africa, HIV, Johannesburg, Voluntary Service