Psychology Student’s Placement Experience

by Sarah Harris|Sep 20 2017|Durban
Volunteer Invest Bobbi Bear Volunteer Story

When did you volunteer with Vocational Impact and how long were you there for?

When I first started looking for a volunteering project, I was unsure of what to do. But when I came across Vocational Impact I immediately knew it was the right opportunity for me.

The plan was initially to go for three to six months, but this fell through. As this was a project I wanted to do, I held onto the strong feeling that I needed to go to the Vocational Impact South Africa project.

I finally got the chance and went for six weeks. I would happily have stayed longer, as the weeks flew by during my stay.

What did your volunteering work consist of?

The work I did at the project was quite varied and I also had a lot of input on what I got to do.

If you like to be told what to do and get on with it,  this project isn’t the right place for you. You are expected to act proactively, jumping on what’s happening and using your own strengths, knowledge, and commitment to help where needed. Any ideas or feedback you have will be very welcomed by the staff.

My tasks at the community project the ‘Tree Clinic’ and support groups included helping with medical advice and information sessions, but they also included singing, playing and dancing with the children, as well as providing food and drink to the patients.

“I spoke to women who had been abused, raped and neglected and put them in contact with  permanent employees of the project for follow-up meetings in  to encourage them to report the abuse. We took in children arriving at the project and helped to see if they could stay at the centre or if they could stay with a local family.”

There was also the need to provide support to the children and women by either staying with the child during the police interview or by attending a hearing where a possible suspect could be released on bail. After an alleged rape of a child or woman, we’d go to the hospital to assist with the medical research and interview process.

In addition to the volunteer work, I met a lot of people and got to know their families well. I went to a wedding, a funeral and a great religious service and had a chance to explore the beautiful landscapes of South Africa.

Psychology, Bobbi Bear, Psychology placement internship work experience

What were your expectations before starting? Did these match up to your experience when you finished?

I didn’t know what to expect before my volunteer programme. I felt it was something I had to do, and I now think of it as my second home.

The project appealed to me because you have to care for children, with either medical or psychological support.

It also appealed to me because no two days are the same and you have the freedom to contribute in a way that suits your strengths.

“I wanted a project where I could give social support as well as legal and psychological support. I have not regretted this decision and it has had a major impact on my life.”

How do you feel the experience changed you?

My time at the project has definitely changed me for the better. It showed me how I should appreciate my life back home and not take what I have for granted – a roof over my head, affordable health care and a good legal framework.

I’ve also found how potential employers value volunteering work, so that was an unexpected career benefit. I also learned a great deal from the people I met there and who conquered a place in my heart.

I have a new appreciation for life and I’m more focused on just enjoying the time I spend with friends and family. The Vocational Impact project and South Africa has certainly changed me and I am eternally grateful to them for this experience.

Psychology, Bobbi Bear, Psychology placement internship work experience

Why should someone choose to volunteer with Vocational Impact? 

I would recommend volunteering with Vocational Impact to anyone who really wants to do something for someone who has been through a very traumatic experience. It’s a unique opportunity to provide care, to understand, and to learn from the hard work of the staff at the centre.

Can you name the most impactful moment of your volunteering experience?

There are so many moments that come to mind but the most impressive aspect of my stay at the project was the chance to experience the passion the staff have for helping other human beings in need.

They literally dedicate their lives to helping these people, and witnessing that has greatly inspired me to do more for the people around me. This is particularly impressive given how the odds are stacked against them by a very corrupt legal system, a deficient provision of healthcare and the general backdrop of misery which they work to eradicate, one small victory at a time.

Would you like to Volunteer with us or know more?

You can read more about our volunteering programmes in South Africa here. Furthermore, you can find out more about Vocational Impact here.

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!

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