My first time out of Australia was not without its struggles. I perhaps did not grasp every opportunity and I let experiences pass unexperienced. Distractions came as homesickness, time and money conversions, and learning how to be a foreigner rather than host. While maximum fun, learning and cultural exchange may not have been achieved, it’s still worth it.
It’s worth everything to contribute to Mandela Park’s new day care centre. Their new interactive, stimulating, sensory environment in which to prepare for school. Which simultaneously represents parents spending full days working for an income, knowing their children are being cared for and nurtured. Can you imagine my joy watching four year olds race to build in their brand new sand pit? The hope that comes from children playing and learning. Knowing that these young ones have a stable enough future to work towards any career which tickles their fancy. One day these children could change the world.
My favourite addition was the vegetable garden. It teaches the chain of food provision. Knowing our reliance on food crops which rely on the environment can only lead to improvement. Not to mention the benefits of knowing how to grow food for oneself.
Is this community better off? Yes.
Is the world better off? Yes, in more ways than you think.
Is volunteering the best way to bring about community development? That’s still up for discussion.