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"Ubuntu": What Does it Mean?

 Kristen (USA) joined us on our Pre-School Teaching Program in Cape Town this July. As she discovered, 'Ubuntu' is a word heard frequently while volunteering abroad in Cape Town, and here she shares what it meant to her.

 

Discovering 'Ubuntu'

There was a foreign word I overheard in one of my first memorable moments of my trip, as we were led on a tour by an African Impact staff member and local member of the community. The word was: "ubuntu." Something about this word struck me and as soon as I got back to the volunteer house, I did as any other person from the modern world would do if you wanted an immediate answer to a question you don't know...you Google it.

 

Well, according to Wikipedia, the most basic translation of "ubuntu" means "human kindness." When you think about the general concept of volunteerism, ubuntu ties in beautifully. Volunteering means that an individual willingly gives their time, skills, and resources to an individual or group in need, in return for the gratification for doing a good deed rather than money. Whether this is something you do in your own backyard or in a location halfway around the globe, helping others is a universal concept among the human species. During this first week on projects in the communities of Khayelitsha and Red Hill, I have begun to see how "ubuntu" has a much deeper meaning here in the volunteer community and beyond.

 

On a deeper level, "ubuntu" means "I am, because of you." Humans are connected through experience, and our actions have an effect on each another. Our perception of ubuntu carries into how we show it in our daily actions and interactions with one other. The South African people endured numerous struggles in the years during and after apartheid, a time when racial segregation severely divided a nation politically, socially, and economically. Over time, since Nelson Mandela ended the apartheid regime, "ubuntu" within the local and volunteer communities has played an enormous role in rebuilding a nation that has truly seen its share of hardships over time.

 

 

 

Putting 'Ubuntu' Into Practice

The three words that African Impact uses in its motto are "Explore, Inspire, Impact." However, another word that has come into conversation numerous times over the past few days is "sustainability." African Impact utilizes volunteers--everyday people of all ages and walks of life--to empower the communities they work within. The focus is on long term, positive change, rather than a short-term fix. There is an old saying that says "Give a man a fish, and he will feed for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime." Ubuntu and volunteering means exactly that. You can enrich yourself in a way that also enriches others, and help someone obtain a sustainable skill that they can use to better their life for hopefully years to come.

 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, ‘’A person is a person through other persons." My brief experience at African Impact so far has allowed me to take a deeper look at how individuals can demonstrate kindness and service to others on many levels. Whether it is teaching preschool age children their basic letters and numbers, organizing a talent show with foster children in their home, or providing activities at the library for teens who don't have a safe place to go after school, the values of service, sustainability, and ubuntu at African Impact go hand in hand. Start small--even a stick and a thread are enough to teach someone how to fish.

 

What can you do to make volunteering and "ubuntu" a part of your life?

If you are interested in volunteering in Cape Town, feel free to visit my personal blog to read about my experiences with the Over 30s Preschool and Teaching project at www.pvgoestosouthafrica.tumblr. com.

Or, feel free to check out the many other projects African Impact has to offer in Cape Town:

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AIDS education thanda private game reserve HIV volunteering holiday volunteer trip horses how can i volunteer in africa how to be a volunteer in africa how to become a volunteer how to go to africa how to volunteer how to volunteer abroad How to Volunteer Abroad how to volunteer in Africa how to work and travel how to work in africa Humming bird impact imvelo awards imvelo awards 2012 imvelo awards finalists imvelo awards winners imvelo finalists 2011 Innovative Awards Intern Abroad intern in Africa intern with a charity international earth day international volunteer International Women's Day internship internship african impact internship cape town internships internships abroad internships in africa jambiani job opportunity jobs in africa Jobs in Cape Town Jobs in South Africa Jobs with Lions jungle expedition kenya volunteering kwazulu-natal kzn wildlife large predator last minute lion lion conservation Lion Encounter lion prides lion projects lion rehabilitation lion rehabilitation project lion rehabilitation volunteering lion volunteer africa lion volunteer south africa lion volunteering lion volunteering in Africa Lions lions in africa Live and work in Africa make an impact makeyourimpact making a difference in Africa malawi volunteering marketing Masai Mara masai mara volunteering masai mara warriors Mature Volunteer mature volunteering medical outreach project medical projects in zambia medical support medical volunteer medical volunteer projects Medical volunteer projects in Africa medical volunteering medical volunteering africa medical volunteering in africa medical volunteering zambia mount kilimanjaro Naboisho Conservancy national geographic new projects ngamo pride ngo NGO Internship NGO Jobs non-profit organisations nursing Older volunteering orphan care orphan care africa orphan volunteer projects Orphan Volunteer Projects in Africa over 30's over 30's volunteering packing for the bush packing for travel to Africa Paid volunteering paid volunteering in africa photography africa photography south africa photography volunteer photography volunteering plant trees pre-school volunteering preparing to volunteer programs in Africa project rhino kzn projects africa projects for africa reasons to travel Red Hill reforestation reforestation in africa responsible tourism Responsible travel retirement volunteering rhino rhino poachers rhinos killed in south africa rural school Safari safari africa Save the African Lion save the trees saving rhinos saving the lion saving the lions saving the planet school uniforms africa seychelles Smba Giya social involvement social media Something different for retirement south afric south africa south africa internships south africa rhinos south africa volunteering special offer sponsor a child programme sports volunteer st lucia st lucia south africa St Lucia, South Africa stand out cv stand out resume steve jobs student volunteering sustainability sustainable development sustainable volunteering sustaining trees table mountain tanzania teach abroad teach English abroad teach in africa teach in tanzania teach in zanzibar teaching Teaching Africa teaching in africa teaching in zambia teaching projects in africa Teaching Volunteer Projects in Africa team house tentation THAF Thanda thanda in africa thanda private game reserve the happy africa foundation tips on what to pack tourism tourism cape town tourism south africa tourism zanzibar tourism zimbabwe travel travel africa travel and work overseas travel in Africa travel opportunities travel overseas travel to africa at christmas trees for zambia Trip Advisor trvelling Tuli Game Reserve tweeting UCAS points UCAS points volunteering UK. Established in 2004 UNESCO up close with lions Victoria Falls victoria falls lion victoria falls lions victoria falls volunteer visit africa visit zimbabwe voluntary work africa Voluntary Work in Africa Volunteer volunteer abroad Volunteer Abroad volunteer abroad mozambique volunteer africa volunteer africa children volunteer africa opportunity volunteer africa program volunteer antelope park volunteer at Christmas Volunteer at Christmas volunteer chimfunshi volunteer coordinator volunteer forever volunteer game reserve Volunteer in Africa Volunteer in Africa volunteer in africa with children volunteer in African clinic volunteer in Cape Town Volunteer in Cape Town volunteer in Kenya volunteer in kwazulu natal volunteer in Livingstone volunteer in South Africa Volunteer in South Africa volunteer in Tanzania volunteer in the Masai Mara volunteer in township volunteer in west africa volunteer in Zambia volunteer in Zanzibar volunteer in Zimbabwe volunteer in Zimbabwe volunteer lions volunteer mozambique volunteer national park volunteer on conservation projects in Africa volunteer on game reserve volunteer on holiday volunteer on vacation volunteer opportunities volunteer opportunities africa volunteer opportunity abroad Volunteer opprotunities Africa volunteer overseas volunteer overseas work Volunteer programs in Africa volunteer project volunteer projects volunteer projects africa volunteer projects in africa volunteer south africa volunteer St Lucia volunteer stories Volunteer Travel volunteer travel conference volunteer wildlife volunteer with african children volunteer with animals volunteer with animals africa volunteer with animals in africa volunteer with charities in africa volunteer with children volunteer with children africa volunteer with children in kenya volunteer with chimpanzees volunteer with chimps volunteer with elephants volunteer with lions Volunteer with Lions volunteer with monkeys volunteer with orphans volunteer with rhinos volunteer with wildlife volunteer with wildlife in africa volunteer work africa volunteer work health benefits volunteer zambia volunteer zanzibar volunteer zimbabwe Volunteering volunteering abroad volunteering africa volunteering ethics volunteering in africa volunteering in cape town volunteering in Mozambique volunteering in South Africa volunteering in zambia volunteering opportunities volunteering programmes volunteering with animals volunteering with lions volunteering zambia Volunteerism volunteerng volunteers making an impact Voluntourism voluntourism voluntourism ethics voluteer in africa walk with lions walking with lions walking with lions africa What is it like to volunteer in Africa what to do at christmas what to do in Africa what to pack what to pack africa what to wear volunteering where can i volunteer Why pay for volunteering why volunteer Wildlife conservation wildlife conservation volunteering wildlife orphan care wildlife orphanage wildlife photography wildlife photography africa wildlife photography opportunity wildlife photography program wildlife photography project wildlife project africa wildlife rehabilitation wildlife research wildlife research project wildlife research volunteer wildlife volunteer africa Wildlife Volunteer in Africa wildlife volunteer in south africa wildlife volunteer project wildlife volunteer projects wildlife volunteer zimbabwe wildlife volunteering wildlife volunteering africa wildlife volunteering in africa wildlife volunteering in south africa Womens empowerment work abroad work abroad volunteer work and travel abroad work and travel overseas work experience abroad work for charities in africa work gap year work in Africa work in south africa work volunteers Work with animals work with children Work with Children in Africa work with children in south africa Work with Chimpanzees work with elephants Work with Lions work with lions in africa Worki in Africa working abroad working in Africa Working in Zambia Working with Chimps working with lions world aids day Worlds best holiday destination youth travel Zambia zambia africa zanzibar Zimbabwe zimbabwe volunteer projects zulu communities zulu culture zulu dambwa pride
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