This week we have a guest blogger: Nikki Carenza! She is one of our recent volunteers who was with us in Cape Town for two months. Read below to get a feel for what it is like to be a CHOSA volunteer, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in volunteering with us! Sending lots of love and gratitude for all of our previous volunteers we have had over the years!
Hi CHOSA friends and family! I just had an incredible summer volunteering with CHOSA and helping capacity build with two of its partner organizations, the Thope Foundation and Blessings Educare. This was my first time in all of Africa, and I could not have asked for a better experience than having the opportunity to work with CHOSA and learn about social development initiatives throughout Cape Town. In my work, I was helping create business plans for our two partner organizations to help define growth and strategy plans for them to expand their operations. For me, the best part of my time in SA was having the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most selfless, inspiring, and passionate women that I’ve ever met, both at CHOSA and our partner organizations. From the very first day we went around to meet all of CHOSA’s partners and throughout my entire time working with them, I was so moved by the stories and experiences that each person shared about why they felt compelled to dedicate their time to improving the lives of children in South Africa. I learned an incredible amount in the short time I spent working with CHOSA and I must say my only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer!
While there were so many wonderful experiences during my time at CHOSA, my favorite memories all stand out as the times I spent interacting with the kids that CHOSA is ultimately serving. CHOSA does a lot of behind the scenes work because it often is the easiest to forget about and hardest to complete, but also the most important in ensuring an organization will make an impact for years and years to come. So it was always exciting and encouraging to get to meet the boys and girls that these organizations are helping, see their happy, smiling faces, and know that at the end of the day the work is truly going to improve the lives of these kids and so many more in the future. Hanging out with the kids always made my day, and I came to truly appreciate how much the smallest things like a smile or a song can have the power to completely make someone’s day brighter and happier. I was also continuously reminded by our work of the importance of cherishing the little things in life, being flexible in your approach, and always taking the time to have a little fun with whatever you’re doing! While I was certainly hoping to contribute my time and skills to help advance these organizations, I feel so grateful for the lessons that I gained working at CHOSA and the perspectives and inspiration that this experience gave me.
For me, the biggest lesson I took away from my time in South Africa was the gratification that comes from building genuine relationships with everyone you meet and finding the common bond that unites us all, especially when human nature is too often drawn to highlight only the differences. I am so unbelievably grateful for the time and energy that all of the women at CHOSA spent on my experience and the passion they brought to our work that made it impactful and exciting. Each day was a new and exciting adventure and this experience truly opened my eyes to the importance of giving back to causes like CHOSA and supporting the work they do every day. I can’t wait to hear how all of our partners continue to develop and grow over the years and I am already looking forward to coming back to visit everyone at CHOSA as soon as I can!