The experience of Carolina Vasquez


Hello! My name is Carol and I’m from Palma de Mallorca. I imagine that if you are reading me, it is because you plan to make a change in your life just like I did. To start I’ll put you in situation; at the end of the race I decided that I had one thing clear and it was the following: to live new experiences. That’s why I started with taking a plane and planting myself on the other side of the world, that is, in Australia. After a few months there, I felt the need to want more, to give another change to my life. But I did not want to feel satisfied only with myself, but I wanted to add a grain of sand to something and someone else. From there to make the decision to volunteer in South Africa.


Do you know when you enter a routine and you see that nothing catches your attention inside her anymore? I refer to when everything becomes so well known that you feel that within you something is telling you, change, throw yourself into something new. Maybe it has never happened in your life, maybe it’s coming or not, but I felt that. I did not want nor had any desire only to go and live somewhere else, but I felt that need to grow for me and for someone else. I demanded to myself to live something different. I was afraid of course, since everything leads to knowing another continent, another culture and going to live with people of whom you have not the slightest idea about their lives. I do not know if it will happen to you too, but as you get older and know more of the world, more people, more experiences, you demand more of yourself. That is, you set higher goals to achieve, and mine was to volunteer for South Africa for a month.


Talking about the experience of volunteering is not an easy task because with words you can not express the feelings experienced, but I will try to describe it as best as possible. Volunteering is magic, it is knowing yourself more, it is giving the best of you, it is seeing how people who do not have anything gives you everything, it is gratitude, it is feeling fulfilled, it is happiness and surely it would never end, but above all it is feel. Feeling from the moment you land in South Africa and see everything so different from the known, is to feel that you are part of a family with other volunteers, is to feel that children want you as you are, is to feel they want to be helped and improve their conditions, is to feel that you are another place in the community. It is to feel a million things that can only be felt there. Really, it’s amazing to see how one has feelings that he had not lived before and did not even know existed.

I’ll tell you what’s interesting, my day to day in South Africa. First of all we lived in a house twenty volunteers in Hout Bay, about 20 km from Cape Town. I do not know if you know that the project started in June, so I was one of the first volunteers to be part of it. The alarm clock rang around seven in the morning. Volunteers we distributed in different rooms formed by bunk beds, then falling asleep was almost impossible. Sharing is living, if you have not experienced it before, you will do it in South Africa. The case, you woke up early and went down to breakfast with the other volunteers. I still remember my first breakfast dead of shame because I had not managed to learn any names the night before and because I had to ask where all the things were.
Doing a brief summary of the volunteering routine taking as an exception the first day to integrate in the community doing the tour consisted of getting up early, having breakfast, collecting the driver from home to school, going to eat at Mama Seafood & Grill, doing extracurricular activities with the children, going home, having dinner, brie fi ng and sleeping. I refer to all this from Monday to Friday, on weekends we had the opportunity to escape to take a trip, explore the city or just relax and be with the family. And yes, I said family because it is amazing the people with whom you coincide in life, do you remember that before I mentioned that I was afraid? Well, if you’re thinking of joining volunteering, take it off your head! Volunteering and volunteers is pure magic, you meet very open and wonderful people. At least I coincided with people who had hearts that did not fit, I know it sounds very corny, but I swear that if I call them a family it’s because of something.
The sensations experienced in Hout Bay are many and different, as the days go by they are bigger and stronger. Emphasizing that we were the first in the project, to make ourselves known in the community (since we were the first volunteers that received) we held an event on the National Youth Day. There I only got good, positive and beautiful sensations. We made a series of games, we danced with the children and as a reward we gave them some tangerines. I wish I could show you with my eyes what I lived on that day, there I realized how happy a child can be with so little. I know that both you who are reading me and me, are fortunate to have everything we have, but being there you give a thousand times more of that. How fair or unfair life is, how it receives you according to nazcas in one place or another.
Speaking of more sensations, it was nice to paint them games on the floor of the school and see their happy faces and their brightness in the eyes. They gave off an immense joy because at the time of playing in the playground they had nothing, not even a ball or a jump rope to play with. Sensation of satisfaction especially, because with small details you can get very big things.
These are children who have no concept of what a family is, who all live in the same room, children who do not have anything to eat, children who do not know what they want to be when they grow up, who do not have dreams in the lifetime. Children in which perhaps their future is dedicated to the sale of drugs or fishing, or who may stay on the street for the rest of their lives. Children who have nothing and give you everything without asking for anything in return. They have energy, they give you smiles, they give you pampering, they hug you, they love you. Do you know? On my last day of volunteering I said goodbye to some girls, to whom I took an immense affection and who did not understand very well why I was going, took one of them, approached me and said: “I wish you were my mum ” I still have that moment held in my head and that feeling that broke my heart. There I realized that there are unique experiences and this one was, I have never been told something so beautiful and shocking at the same time nor do I think it will happen again. Every time I go back to that moment in the past, my eyes flood. That is why once again, he lives because life is not about surviving but about living.


Considering that Cape Town is the safest city in all of Africa, you should not be careful. I mean that to go from one place to another the advisable thing is to move in a taxi, it is not advisable to go out alone to the street after certain hours, among other precautions. But I will tell you more interesting things than those, for example: did you know that Table Mountain located in Cape Town is one of the seven natural wonders of the world? Well if you did not know, take note and do not forget to climb to the top once you’re there. With that I refer to the type of excursions you can do on weekends, as well as climbing Lion’s Head from where you can see spectacular views of the entire city, by the way, it is highly advisable to go up to see the sunset. Another highly recommended excursion would be to go to the Cape of Good Hope, it is the southernmost point of Africa, where you can also surprise yourself with the baboons apart from the incredible landscapes. And obviously you can not miss going to visit the penguins at Boulders Beach, a protected beach where you can have the animals a few centimeters away from you.
Regarding Cape Town, I also recommend that you go spend the day and visit the city, has a number of handicraft markets that are worth it. And also if you want to escape to go out to eat or dine at a restaurant there is a great variety in the city. Let’s talk about the nightlife that you are also interested in knowing, Cape Town is a city of the city as well. There are a lot of music venues with different types of music and for all tastes, there is an international atmosphere as you can also join the party with local people if you feel like it. So that’s why you do not worry, there’s time for everything. I mentioned earlier that volunteering activities take place during the week, so if you organize well on the weekend you can take advantage of excursions and leave the party. At least I am one of those people that when I travel I like to see everything.
And, I still have not told you how lucky you can be if you like animals? Do you know when dreams are made? reality? Well I had the blessed luck to meet one of them that was to leave Safari. Really, since you’re going to South Africa, take advantage and get away! Who knows when you are going to step on those lands again? I highly recommend you take a flight to Johannesburg and go to the Kruger National Park, it’s a wonder! I have never seen a beautiful sunset, the Sun was red like and immense in size as in the Lion King.


If you have come this far I imagine that you will have realized how happy and proud I am to have made such a decision as volunteering. I’m not going to tell you that my life changed but it did improve me a lot.
For me, South Africa and everything related to volunteering means feeling, feeling excited, sharing, laughing, growing, doing things for the first time, love and feel loved, sigh deeply and realize how beautiful life is and the opportunity we have to do what we want with it. South Africa is to open the heart and make it pump harder, is to take hours of sleep to enjoy more time, is to feel that you are alive, is valued and above all is to want, want to want more. South Africa was my month, my most intense month lived, my month with more emotions and feelings, my month in which I enjoyed each of his days, his hours. In South Africa I left part of my soul, because when things feel so strong and live with such intensity, a part stays there forever. And so it will be. Thank you South Africa for giving me so much.