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Emma Manley: Care Work Project in South Africa

Why did you decide to go overseas to volunteer?
I decided to volunteer overseas because I didn’t want to go straight to University after school and decided to get some experience first. As I am studying children’s nursing at Uni I chose to work in orphanages in South Africa, to get experience with children and to strengthen my Uni application. I also wanted to volunteer in a country that had very little and would really benefit from the help I could offer.

What did you achieve during your placement?
During my placement I helped children to improve their English, help with homework and other schoolwork. I also kept children in orphanages entertained by introducing activities and bringing new ideas to have fun with the children. During my 3 months I also gained a better understanding of other cultures and ways of life as well as education in another country.

What did you achieve personally from the experience?
Personally I achieved lots from the experience. Beforehand I learned to fundraise and manage my money, travelling alone let me grow in confidence and have the courage to do it on my own. I also learnt to live with a large group of people and become friends with many different people within the group. The experience allowed me to experience a new culture and lifestyle.

What was a typical day like?
A typical day involved waking up at 7am to be ready to leave at 8am to go to an orphanage, playing with babies and toddlers – feeding them, putting them to bed etc. before being picked up at 12.15pm, having lunch and going to another orphanage from 2.30pm until 4.30pm. This involved keeping children entertained, helping with homework and English language. We would then have a free afternoon.

What are your most memorable moments?
My most memorable moments are working with the children to decorate the orphanage walls, helping to finish their homework and improving their English. Also, doing the worlds highest bungee jump and seeing more of South Africa was amazing. The night life in Port Elizabeth was really cool and some of my best memories are of nights out with the whole group in fancy dress.

What was the social life like?
Being in such a large group meant that the social life was really good. There were so many different people to meet and all with different personalities also meant we could split up and meet more people while we were out, both locals and other travellers. This was particularly true on our weekend away at Jeffrey’s Bay, the hostel, Island Vibe, had lots of people from all over the world who were travelling and were really friendly.

What were the people and culture like?
The local people were all amazing, they were very friendly and accommodating, making you feel really welcome in their country/city. They were all very interested in us and our country as well. Their culture is so different from ours, it was quite a shock but it was really interesting to see a different culture and such a good one, particularly in the townships.

What did you try that you had never tried before?
I did a bungee jump having never done that before. I tried the local food which was very different to home food. I also did zip wiring and tried to learn some of the local language. We also did a safari that I hadn’t done before and living in a house/sharing a room was a new experience.

What are your top 5 must see places in South Africa?
Cape Town
Kruger National Park
Storms River – Tsisikamma National Park
Port Elizabeth Beaches and The Boardwalk
Jeffreys Bay

What are your top 5 things to do in South Africa?
Worlds Highest Bungee Jump
Shark Cage Diving
Elephant Ride
Climb Table Mountain

What were you doing before you went away?
Before I went away I was working full time, fundraising for my trip as well as visiting friends at University, preparing and buying equipment/clothes that I needed. I also spent time researching the place I was going, while finishing school and applying/preparing for University.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to go on the trip and how did you overcome them?
To come on the trip I had to overcome negativity from friends/teachers who said I shouldn’t take a gap year but go straight to University. I had to deal with money issues by working hard and fundraising and I had to discuss with my work being able to leave for 3 months and still come back to my job. Mostly, I had to prepare myself as much as possible because it was something I haven’t done before and I was worried about going alone.

If you took a gap year or career break, why did you do this, and what have you gained from doing so?
I took a Gap Year because I didn’t feel ready to go straight to University and felt the experience would strengthen my application. It has given me so much experience and allowed me to have a break and grow in confidence, so now I feel ready to go to University. It has also made me sure that I want to work with children.

Has the experience affected your ‘life plan’ in any way, and if so how?
The experience hasn’t altered my plan for Uni, it has made me more sure that it is what I want to do. It has however, made me know that I want to do more travelling, and possibly once I have graduated, travel and do nursing in hospitals around the world.

Would you recommend it to others, if so why?
I would definitely recommend this experience to others. It has made me great friends and I've met some amazing people. It has also helped me to grow in confidence and become more independent whilst reassuring me of what I want in the future and allowing me to see a whole new lifestyle unlike anything I have seen before.

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  • "It’s been amazing! The teaching has definitely been a challenging experience but a very good one. I have been bungee-jumping, seen elephants and lion cubs and spent plenty of time sunbathing on the beach."
    Emily Smith , Teaching, South Africa
  • "I’ve had the best year of my life! It’s given me the opportunity to live in and contribute to the development of a wonderful country that I can’t wait to return to."
    Sam Murphy , Teaching, South Africa
  • ''To be able to assess and treat some of the most promising young footballers in the country, both on and off the pitch, provided me with an opportunity that I would never have been able to get in the UK.''
    Heather Taylor , Physiotherapy, Ghana
  • ''Just keep doing what you’re doing, it was wonderful to see the differences you have made! I’ve made so many great friends and have the most amazing memories!.''
    Joanna Hayes , Physiotherapy, Ghana
  • ''I would just like to thank you for such a brilliant to trip to Ghana. I had a fantastic time and thought I was really able to use my skills as a qualified physiotherapist.''
    Marc Holl , Physiotherapy, Ghana
  • ''The outpatients and staff gave me a send off party and I was touched and embarrassed by the extent of their gratitude. To be truthful, my contribution was limited, but it was appreciated, and I got an enormous amount out of being there.''
    Sarah Remnant , Physiotherapy, Ghana
  • ''The children were as all children are – loving, giving, and beautiful… and complete rascals! The whole experience will give me treasured memories for a long time to come.''
    Olivia Kegg , Care Work, South Africa
  • ''Working with the children was absolutely amazing and I still miss their smiles now! I had such an amazing time in Ghana - it truly was a life-changing experience that I will always remember.''
    Karen Miles , Care Work, Ghana
  • ''The teaching was great, I felt that I learnt a lot and the school seemed to enjoy having me around. The whole experience was all I'd hoped for. I can't wait to get back to Ghana one day!.''
    Charlotte Sadler , Teaching, Ghana
  • ''The children, the people, the volunteers, and the whole atmosphere in general, made this experience one I’ll never forget.''
    Magalee Nahas , Teaching, Ghana
  • ''The experience was greatly valuable to me professionally as I gained practical writing experience that I can take home and add to my portfolio and, considering how competitive media jobs are in my city, this is invaluable.''
    Sarah Kendell , Media & Journalism, Ghana
  • "Working on the front line on some really exciting news stories and has boosted my confidence that being a journalist is what I want to be. Amazing very relevant experience and just what I needed. Thanks to all the Changing Worlds team for making this possible for me."
    Thomas Coats , Media & Journalism, Ghana
  • Amazing people and amazing memories! I got a real taste for this beautiful country on the Ghana Experience.
    Gemma Hutchinson , Adventure, Ghana
  • There was never a dull moment on this action packed adventure. I had so much fun with the other people on the trip, I can't wait to go back to Ghana.
    James Reyland , Adventure, Ghana
  • I cannot believe how much we packed into only 3 weeks. Volunteering was amazing, and is was great to see the range of things that Ghana has to offer.
    Rosie Midhurst , Adventure, Ghana
  • ''I used this opportunity to gain work experience, and getting a new perspective of a health care service in a Third World country made me realise how much we take for granted in the UK.''
    Magalee Nahas , Medical & Health, Ghana
  • ''It was great fun working alongside the locals and we shared lots of laughs and stories. It also felt great to know we were leaving something behind that the community really needed.''
    Andy Hoyle , Building & Construction, Ghana
  • ''Ghana is a fantastic country and the people are so welcoming and warm, especially the Ghanaian staff. What makes the placement is being part of a team who all have the same viewpoint to help others.''
    Lisa Paige , Building & Construction, Ghana
  • “Great people, great experience and there is some great sport to be played in Ghana. Something I'll never forget.”
    Matt Pheasant , Sports, Ghana
  • “I have had a fantastic time out in Ghana and what they are trying to acheive out there is truly incredible. I hope to able to do something like this again.”
    Dale Bradley , Sports, Ghana

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