Tiarna joined us on our Orphan Day Care Project in St Lucia, Zululand back in 2015 and has since returned as a Volunteer Coordinator. Responsible for supporting our volunteers on a daily basis during their time with us in South Africa, she now shares what it has been like returning to the projects.

Returning to St Lucia

After having an incredible time volunteering in St. Lucia back in 2015, I was so excited to come back as a Volunteer Coordinator this year. Living and working in Africa has been a dream of mine for many years. I have always had a passion for the developing world, so when the opportunity came up for me to come back to St. Lucia I had no hesitation in accepting.

Coming back, it’s been nice to see how the projects have developed and changed over the last two years, and to witness the impact our projects continue to have out in the communities we work in. It was also just as nice to see the things that haven’t changed; the house, the town, the community, and our beloved Zulu ladies. Even some of the same children are still at crèche and the orphanage, so it was amazing to see how they have grown and how they continue to thrive and benefit from our projects. Driving out in the community for the first time again and seeing all the familiar places and faces gave me a great sense of joy!

My first few weeks in St. Lucia have been busy adjusting to life in South Africa, and my role as a Volunteer Coordinator. We had an amazing group of volunteers arrive the same day as myself, as well as our new Project Manager, Kate. Throughout the week we enjoyed watching sunsets down at the jetty, making smores by the bonfire, and relaxing on the beach. We also went on a night game drive where we saw Hyena, baby rhino and got to witness a controlled burn of the nearby reserve which was truly spectacular.

Out in the community I had the opportunity to venture out onto all our current medical and education projects. I was here in 2015 as an education volunteer, which I absolutely loved, but I did not get the chance to see our medical projects. I was excited to have the chance to go out to physio, nutrition, home based care and HIV education to see what is involved with those projects.

The highlight of my first few weeks here would have been teaching HIV education to grade 6 and 7 at two primary schools in Ezwenelisha. The incidence of HIV in our communities is so high, so it’s been amazing to be able to go out to the schools and educate the children about HIV from a young age. We work with each group for two weeks, and cover a range of topics such as transmission, prevention, stigma and positive living. It’s very exciting to see the progress the children make and how much they have learnt by the end of the course. You feel very proud of them and have a sense of achievement when the kids pass the test at the end of the course and receive their certificates. Education really is power, and you can see that first here first hand here in St. Lucia.