Sara Bridgewood talked to us about her experience volunteering at the Durban located Operation Bobbi Bear, a drop-in centre and home for young victims of sexual abuse. Sara described her initial impressions as “good, the staff are so lovely, passionate and made me feel so welcome and included.”
When asked to describe the centre she said, “the work they do is amazing – they support and give voice to the children and people of the local communities who are often extremely vulnerable and disadvantaged. The staff are passionate and selfless, going above and beyond the expectations of their work roles. It is such a brilliant and much-needed organisation. If I could bring my three children out with me to work for them I would.”
Sara and the other volunteers followed the routines of the centre, rising early to help the children with their pre-school routines and then spending most of the day out performing outreach in the local community. “We’d explore the local area and local organisations and schools with whom Bobbi Bear works in partnership with.
I also went on a few cases, working with children and their families and also giving a couple of talks about drugs to school children.”
International volunteers giving talks about important social topics to local schools have proven to be an effective way of ensuring that the children pay attention to the topics and the volunteers have found themselves very popular with the children and teachers alike. Alongside visits to schools Sara also “went to a crisis centre in a local hospital and the home of a child client. I also attended the Tree Clinic whilst I was at Bobbi Bear which was a most humbling experience.”
Sara also told us about the sobering side of her experience which involved counselling vulnerable young people who had been through traumatising circumstances.
“I was involved in a case of an 11-year-old girl who had been gang-raped at the age of 8 by a group of teenage boys in her village.” Sara worked alongside staff member Mildred.
“Mildred was the lead worker and did a great job filling me in on what was happening, interpreting when needed. I very much felt part of this experience.”
When Vocational Impact asked Sara to compare her expectations of South Africa with the reality she said, “I remember thinking that the country was not what I was expecting. It was much nicer than I had anticipated and I felt relatively safe there. “
Jackie’s husband kindly took me and another volunteer on a safari trip which was a great experience.” Sara made sure to document her trip on Instagram so prospective volunteers can see what life at Bobbi Bear is like.
Would you like to Volunteer with us or know more?
Questions? Would you like to participate? That’s great – feel free to email us or call/whatsapp us on: +44 (0) 7704 129 816
Alternatively, complete an application to begin the process of volunteering, and we’ll be in touch with more details!