Below is a testimonial from Bath University Student, Nele, who volunteered with Vocational Impact during her summer holidays, to gain valuable work experience to apply to job applications.
I really enjoyed my volunteer abroad psychology placement with Vocational Impact and I was completely involved from the moment I landed in South Africa.
I went through the application process and felt very supported by the pre-departure team, who provided me with lots of information before I started my placement including travel guides, what to pack, visa and placement information.
I really made the most out of my placement because I ended up taking over the baby day-care for three weeks and I offered to help with CV and job applications for the mums, and that was all taken on really really well, everyone was really happy with that.
I jumped straight as soon as I arrived at the project, just outside of Johannesburg, in a secure ‘village’ community. Everyone was so excited to see new volunteers, and even though it was a little overwhelming, I felt really supported and the in-country team worked so hard to make me feel welcome and helped me settle in.
I went with a ‘I can’ attitude, which gave me the motivation to apply my university degree education and previous work experience to the project. I had my introduction on the first day, and we went through my placement, and decided on areas that would benefit both sides.
I linked up with the other volunteers staying at the project, this was a highlight as they were from all different university disciplines and that made the placement really interesting. Seeing how other students were approaching the project was really fascinating.
On the first day we observed play therapy and were sown around the ‘village’. They have in-house psychology staff, and group support and rehabilitation sessions. There is also a day-care centre for young children, and a mom and child programme.
Another highlight was being able to observe play-therapy with the therapist that comes to the centre once a week. This was really interesting as I had been working with the child in the day-centre, so watching his play-therapy session really opened my eyes to how powerful this line of treatment is.
I was able to work with other psychology volunteers in creating workshops for the children at the centre. We did a workshop on sexuality and transgender themes with the teenagers. One of them even came up and asked questions afterwards. They wanted us to go talk to the mums even though it was such a zero-tolerance society.
The people were great, the kids were great. I was also able to go outside of the village to see how other NGOs function in the country and see different approaches to psychology, out in the community was a particular highlight.
Our in-country volunteer manager organised for us to go to a creche in Soweto so we made use of the time and we explored South Africa and Johannesburg, it was a great experience and I loved every second of it.
The day trips were a great idea, every time we did one I had an amazing time.
Vocational Impact organised for us to see the how an abuse centre approaches trauma and recovery, was incredibly interesting and really valuable to see how other organisations in South Africa work with psychology methods to help and protect vulnerable people.
The founder of the project is one of the most hardworking women I have ever met, everyone knew who she was. I was really really attached to the kids and loved building something that will last.
It was great to see that we were working for a cause that was so useful and well known. I think psychology can be involved under very specific circumstances. We’ve seen the places that the project partners with, which could definitely involve psychology aspects like, life skills workshops and psychology workshops.
We suggested things like movie nights and dance nights to help boost the children’s self-esteem. There is also opportunity to participate in play and art therapy as well as develop recovery and strength building programmes.
I cried when I left, it really is what you make of it. I loved working for a project that is doing such good work in the community.
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!