We spoke with York University third-year psychology student Sophie, on her return from volunteering at Nkosi’s Haven in South Africa for three weeks, working primarily with young children, but also older teens.
We asked Sophie what a typical day at Nkosi’s Haven was like. “We would wake up and go to the day-to-day care centre from 9 to about half 12, there would just be a different activity each day with the little ones. We’d make sure they got fruit and had a lot of naps, and then after that, it would be a half hour break until lunch time. The kids start getting back from school around three and do homework, so we helped with that.
In the evenings after dinner, we sat with the older ones and helped with the harder homework and helped with CV’s. They all wanted to go to university so we talked with them about that, we definitely felt connected to the older teenagers. It’s a nice place and all the kids and people are very friendly, everyone’s happy and say hello to you as you walk past.”
Sophie was hoping to be able to use her psychological expertise during her trip and was able to create a workshop for older students. “We couldn’t really do a lot directly because we weren’t qualified therapy wise, but we planned a couple of workshops on transgender and sexual orientation because in the culture it’s not very talked about.”
Sophie said; “It was always great to see the kids having fun. We had a disco evening for them. I was amazed by how good of dancers they all were, and they tried to get us to dance with them. Everyone was just smiling.”
Sophie reflected on how it changed her as a person. “It gave me a whole different culture to experience while volunteering there. It’s definitely given me some personal development and some great life experience.”
Sophie also managed to spend time outside of Nkosi’s Haven: “We went to Teddy Bear Clinic that dealt with child abuse and we were shown around and talked with the woman who ran it who took us through some of the really high-profile cases they’ve had.
We also met with the play therapist who comes to Nkosi’s Haven a few times a week. That was really interesting, it was like she was just playing with toys but then she’d told us what she meant through it. We went out with someone who tours around clinics as well, which was something I really enjoyed. You didn’t have to be on-site on the weekends so we got to do our own exploring.
‘We were really supported by Nkosi’s Haven staff and Vocational Impact, who helped us find our feet. I will remember the friendly atmosphere and the chance to observe play therapy.
Watch volunteer’s talk about her time at Nkosi’s Haven
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