Volunteer Janne continues

Take it easy, that’s fast enough!

janneBefore I went to South Africa a lot of people asked me: ‘Janne, please don’t fall in love with South Africa’ and ‘Please come back home after your internship?’ I laughed at them and shrugged it off thinking ‘What a stupid question, why wouldn’t I come home?’
Looking back at those conversations I have to admit that I totally understand why people fall in love with this country. The landscape, the culture, the people… I love it!

I’ve been in Port Elizabeth for quite a while now and I’m happy to be here. The house where I live in is always full of life. Because we are all students and volunteers there is always some sort of activity in which we are involved. Every monday we have dinner at a local hamburger joint, on tuesdays we have very memorable karaoke nights and last but not least we’re participating in an ongoing beerpong tournament on thursdays.

From my internship I received the task to put together a holiday program. Izizwe projects wants to organise fun activities during the holidays of the children from Walmer township. This way we hope to keep the children of the streets and minimise the chances of them going astray
We tackled this challenge with a group of people composed of interns and inhabitants of the township. The volunteers designed a couple of activities and together with Theo, inhabitant of Walmer and a seasoned organiser of those programs, we gave these activities shape. The end result was a very succesful week full of happiness and smiles.

I’m no stranger to organizing events, I’ve done it before back home in the Netherlands. I never expected it to be such a different experience to organise an event in this country though. If you schedule a meeting at 9am in the Netherlands, everybody is present at 9am sharp. It didn’t take long for me to notice that the culture here is a little bit different. Everybody walks in on different times and by that I mean way past the set time. At first this was reason for panic, because we are used to working with a strict time schedule. But as the day continued I was able to laugh it off because we are so not used to this loose interpretation of time.

During the first few weeks I had to get used to the unstructured way of living in South Africa. It really bothered me if I wanted to go out for drinks and the taxi arrived 20 minutes late. Now the ‘African times’ are starting to grow on me and I busted myself on one occasion of being shocked that I wasn’t ‘ready to go’ and the taxi arrived right on time.

There’s a time for everything. And that works just fine!

 

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