It Changes you Doesn’t It? – Psychology Student Lucy’s Experience at Operation Bobbi Bear

by Evelyn Medai|Nov 26 2018|South Africa
Operation Bobbi Bear, High Court Visit, Psychology Placement, South Africa

Recently, we learned about one of our lovely volunteers, Lucy. After her three weeks in Durban, South Africa, we caught up with Lucy to hear a bit more about her time at Operation Bobbi Bear.

From the start, Lucy and her friend Emily were able to get right to work with Bobbi Bear:

From literally the day we got there, we got straight into it and hit the ground running. We went to the local hospitals and local police stations that same day. We didn’t even feel like we needed time to settle in, because everyone at the Bobbi Bear house was just so welcoming. It didn’t really feel like the first week was overwhelming because we were just so busy, we really  got to do everything.

As time went on, circumstances changed a bit and Lucy and Emily took on a new role at the house:

The first week or week and a half was going with Brad and getting to see everything, getting to meet everyone. And then halfway through the second week, we went to visit a house that had been reported with six children living there in quite a bit of poverty. So Bobbi Bear was looking to try and either aid the parents or to remove the children from the situation. It ended up with the six children being removed and coming to stay with us at the Bobbi Bear house, so that second half of the second week until the time we left was dedicated to them. That was my best time there. By the end of it, we didn’t want to leave because we became so attached to these kids and the people there.


Looking back on the experience, Lucy learned what a huge impact volunteering abroad has on a person:


I’ve never really traveled outside of Europe, so I had no idea what to expect. When me and Emily landed in Durban, we kind of looked at each other and it really started to settle in. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like. When you’re there, you’ve got to try and help and do whatever you can. It changes you doesn’t it? You come back with different perspectives and morals and ideas on what’s important and what’s not. I think that’s what’s changed with me and Emily most, we just thought that we had to do this again and that we could even do this as a job. I thought it was going to be really hard and that I was going to struggle with getting involved and taking on the emotional trauma, but once you’re there and you’re in with it, you see it’s these people going through this and you have to be strong for them. And everyone is so welcoming and so grateful that you’re there, it really does feel like a home away from home.

 Vocational Impact Psychology Student Volunteer Lucy 1

The experience even gave Lucy some insight on what she wants to do after she finishes up her last year at uni:


Me and Emily definitely said we want to go back to Bobbi Bear right after graduation. Emily has always said she wants to work with children, but I think I want to work more with prisons. But I don’t want to do just one thing, I want to try everything. Psychology is so massive, and I don’t want to just do one thing. I think the actual hands-on, practical experience at Bobbi Bear was great. At uni, everything is on paper and you have no idea what it’s going to be like when you get a job. Having that real experience is amazing.


The two even had unique fundraising technique that allowed them to raise money for Bobbi Bear whilst documenting their time in South Africa:


We set up giving pages and did an Instagram blog so people that donated  could follow along. We let them follow our journey and see how it made a difference. People followed it straight away and were commenting on the pictures and sending us messages telling us they loved what we were doing. It showed them where their money went and how it carried on once we’d gone. It wasn’t just about us fundraising; once we leave, Bobbi Bear still needs fundraising and it still needs to carry on.



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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