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Experiencing Africa for the first time

By | Stories

Before coming to South Africa I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought that everything is going to be different to what I know but I couldn’t really imagine it.

Of course I googled “Kruger National Park” like a thousand times but the pictures I saw were always the same ones. Stunning five-star lodges with pools and incredible panorama views. Hordes of impressive animals such as elephants, zebras or lions in front of the most beautiful sundowns I have ever seen. It seemed to be the most fascinating place in the world and definitely the place I wanted to be.

I was very excited to go to South Africa and even more disappointed when I arrived. The great Safari Tours that I imagined myself to be on turned out to be long hours on an open vehicle, seeing only a few animals from the distance. The soils were dried out and all the plants and trees seemed to be more dead than alive. There was no green at all, only some thorny bushes and dry, sandy grounds. When going to the community projects, we passed very poor regions with trash lying around everywhere, as if trash cans don’t exist in this place. I somehow didn’t expect a country which is known for its beautiful and untouched nature and wildlife to be so dirty and careless about the environment. I somehow felt like I came to the wrong place and that all these amazing landscapes I had in my mind are far from reality.

The only thing that exceeded my expectations in a positive way was the accommodation. It is a very beautiful and clean lodge, surrounded by nature and wildlife reserves. Also the food is very delicious and the cleaning ladies make sure that the animals don’t feel too cosy in our rooms!

It took me about three weeks to realize how beautiful this place really is. I even started to love the previously described dirty small towns situated next to the streets and have to smile whenever we are in the car driving through the area. I am falling in love with this place every day a little bit more. It is not only about the animals you see, but also about the amazing people you meet and the experiences you make. Some other volunteers fell in love with this place the minute they arrived, but for me personally it took a little bit longer. When finally the first raindrops fell at the end of September, it seemed as if the area came back to life again. Everything has changed its colour from brownish into a bright saturated green, making this place even more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Also the animals seemed to love the rain and we had the chance to be very close to them, creating incredible experiences and memories.

These animal encounters made me realize why it is so important to protect the wildlife here and why conservation education is crucial to the impact we can make. I also started to understand my role here as an intern a little bit better and know, at least somehow, what I am supposed to do within the next few months. The most important thing here that I had to learn the tough way is that it is important to ask whenever you have a question or are unsure about what you should do. They won’t come to you, but if you ask them they will try to help you as much as they can.

If there is an advice that I could give to anyone who is about to come to the Greater Kruger Area it would be this one: enjoy the time you have and don’t isolate yourself from the loving people that live here. Also take your time and step outside for a moment, go for a walk and breathe into the amazing surrounding whenever you feel like wanting to go home!

Let this place fill your heart with the joy and happiness that is around and I am sure you will fall in love sooner than you would imagine!

~ Melanie Frauenlob ~

Happy Africa Foundation Intern – read more about our internships. 

 

Meet Khanyisile

By | Stories

Khanyisile is 37 years old and suffers from Motor-Neurone Disease and hyper-tension. Her disease is far advanced and she is now wheelchair bound and relies on her youngest son to care for her. She is unable to eat, drink or move without assistance. Her son does what he can but he doesn’t live at home and is not always around.
She survives on a grant of only ZAR1300 per month (c.GBP76)

The Happy Africa Foundation support Khanyisile but providing Home Based Care and Nutrition to her through our St Lucia Medical & Home Based Care ProjectWe also help her attend the new Homeopathy Clinic where she receives a remedy which helps her appetite, sleep better and relaxes her muscles.

The challenge she faces is that she lives alone in her own home but local residents have been using her property was a ‘walk-through’ as she has no perimeter fence.
This makes her feel very vulnerable especially in the evenings.

Our aim is to provide her with a simple wooden pole and wire fence around her property to prevent people using her land as a thru-way. This would allow her to rest peacefully in the evening and make her feel safe.

To help us achieve this goal please get involved via our Global Giving Page here 

 

Community Sports Development

By | Stories

South Africa is a huge sport playing nation. Whether at the local level or international, South Africa’s love of sport and competitive nature is world class. Despite this, many children lack the resources necessary to have the chance to play an organized, umpired game.

Physical Education is not part of the school curriculum and after school sports is virtually non-existent in township communities. Throughout the world it is known that taking part in sporting activities can greatly improve both physical and mental health but sadly this is missing for many children in Khayelitsha and Langa. In addition, children are often unsupervised during the hours after school, leading to exposure to gangs, drugs, alcohol and abuse.

The Happy Africa Foundation partners with Sporting Chance coaches and with the help of volunteers from African Impact, students in schools in Khayelitsha and Langa are able to have access to physical education during scheduled lessons. When speaking to the sports coach in Khayelitsha, he revealed that he had started running soccer and cricket training after school to allow children to really embrace all that there is to offer from sports. However, the children had no other teams to play against and so could not practice their skills or develop good sportsmanship.

The Happy Africa Foundation believes that sports programmes offer a positive outlet for children’s energy, providing excellent opportunities for physical, social and emotional development. Therefore, each year, The Happy Africa Foundation in partnership with Sporting Chance, host a 10-week long cricket and soccer tournament on the streets of Khayelitsha, Langa and now in Mitchell’s Plain. This year, quarterly interschool competitions in soccer and netball are also being held between Khayelitsha and Langa schools.

By providing quarterly interschool competitions, a sense of team/school pride is developed as well as goal-setting and achievements. The students can train with a goal in mind; motivation is an incredible tool for development. The first quarterly Interschool Competition was held in April between Khayelitsha United and the Langa Warriors; soccer and netball teams from the two Sports Development Schools. The participants learnt about commitment to training, sportsmanship and school pride. The day was a huge success with children now looking to even the scores next term. If you’d like to know more about this incredible day, check out this short video https://youtu.be/QIqOpB5SZZM

The annual street tournament for soccer and cricket also allows for a sense of community spirit, local employment for coaches and umpires and a chance for children to show their talent. Up to 15 community members are employed in each of the three locations to act as coaches and to ensure fair play and competitive spirit is maintained. The streets are closed, the goal posts are converted barrels-come-stumps are deployed and the community turns out in force to support their respective teams. The tournament culminates in a final game in December for both cricket and soccer, with the winner awarded all-important bragging rights as well as trophies and medals. All participants are also given a shirt to continue the show of pride in participating. Over the 10 weeks, around 360 children will have taken part in the street tournament across Khayelitsha, Langa and Mitchell’s Plain.

The inclusion of quarterly interschool competitions as well as expanding the annual street tournament to include Mitchell’s Plain has increased our fundraising target for our Community Sports Development project. So far, we have fundraised R24,920, needing R135,080 more in order to deliver all four interschool competitions and the street tournament. If you would like to help us achieve this goal, please visit www.happyafricafoundation.org/donate.

“While you’re busy helping to change their lives, they’ll change yours”

By | Stories

Claudy Luft, volunteered in the Girl Impact and Gender Empowerment Project for 12 weeks in Livingstone, Zambia and 12 weeks in Moshi, Tanzania.

Much more can and needs to be done to reach the goal of gender equality in the hole world. I believe every little bit helps and it starts with education, that is why I came to Zambia in 2016 and to Tanzania in 2017.

4 weeks ago, I arrived in Moshi. I was so excited and could not wait to start. From the moment I arrived, I felt part of the Moshi African Impact family, everyone is so welcoming and the projects are well organized. After being a volunteer in different projects, in different locations, I knew how interesting and impactful the Girl Impact program is. The girls (and boys every now and then) that are part of the Girl Impact program improved their knowledge but more important they grow in confidence. When we invest in girls’ health, safety, education and rights we empower them to reach for their dreams and build better lives for themselves and their communities.

There are many similarities in the Girl Impact projects, of course both projects cover all the ‘girls’ topics and both projects are well established and well organized. Even when you volunteer for 2 or 4 weeks you can see the bigger impact the program makes in the community and you are an important part of it. An interesting difference between the locations is the culture. Girls all over the world struggle with the same problems but cultural influences make that girls in different part of the world are more vulnerable than others. A project in Moshi that made a big impact in one of my first weeks was NAFGEM, a project that helps girls who escaped female genital mutilation, which is still common in Maasai and Tanzanian culture. Young women, especially those from such strict cultural backgrounds need and want mentors to help them navigate and bring them more confidents to become strong, independent women. Here in Moshi we work closely with the Maasai; we run a Maasai literacy program and a Maasai professional development program. Girl Impact volunteers in Moshi get the change to join the education project in which we teach the Maasai, adults and kids English. This gives you the opportunity to see more of the impact we make in the community. While volunteering you really get to know the culture and that is one of the biggest benefits volunteering gives you compare to traveling.

Both projects are focussed on different age groups of girls, from young girls up to adults. And all girls that I’ve met in the program are so eager to learn and come to our lessons after school which shows their dedication. This program is an incredible experience for yourself and for the girls that you’ll support by joining the Girl Impact program. African Impact facilitates it so well with tasty food, good accommodation, project transfers and a helpful team to support you before, during and after the projects. You’ll never be on your own!

But be aware while you’re busy helping to change their lives, they’ll change yours and in ways you could never have imagined.

Fundraising Volunteers, Zambia

By | Stories

Written by Zambia Intern Morgan Domijan

Margaux, Hélène and Laura
Before arriving in Livingstone, Zambia, Margaux, Hélène and Laura from Belgium held multiple fundraisers to support The Happy Africa Foundation and African Impact. They stepped out of the box and fundraised through unique projects. But how?

The three hosted their 18th birthday party where all “presents” resulted in donations, sold melo-cakes to family and friends, and had a soccer match between the students and teachers where all proceeds went to sponsoring two children in the Sponsor a Child program. Additionally, they received more donations from reaching out to other organizations and receiving the Young Women in Public Affairs Award.

Wow! Margaux, Hélène and Laura’s dedication demonstrates just a few of the many great fundraising opportunities that are out there. Join their fundraising efforts today!

Dan and Ryan
Dan and Ryan from New York raised an incredible $15,000 before arriving in Livingstone, Zambia to volunteering with African Impact on their building projects. Through sharing their stories by social media and setting up a crowdfunding page, many viewers wanted to make their own impact through donating. Their fundraising efforts will directly affect Linda Farm in building a new Ablution block, completing a playground, and supporting Zambezi Sawmills School.

Due to sharing Happy Africa’s mission before taking off for Livingstone, these two dedicated volunteers impacted three communities!

My Zambian Adventure

By | Stories

In July we had the pleasure of welcoming GlobalGiving staff member Aleia Bucci to Zambia. Aleia spend time with African Impact and ourselves visiting some of our projects in Livingstone. Her is her story about her time with us.

African Impact, an organization that connects volunteers to local projects in Africa, has been around for over 10 years, running projects in 12 different countries and enabling over 12,500 volunteers. The Happy Africa Foundation, established in 2008, exists to manage donations received from the volunteers working on projects for African Impact. The two organizations maintain a close partnership, with Happy Africa funding numerous initiatives and programs where African Impact has projects. African Impact projects are evaluated using a detailed scorecard which includes analyzing long-term viability and impact of the project. Additionally, each project has local community stakeholders, ensuring that the projects are completed in the best interests of those who are benefitting.

In Livingstone, Zambia, African Impact runs multiple projects: teaching assistants, after school activities, reading club, art club, math club, remedial classes, girl impact/empowerment, adult literacy, sports, medical clinics, home-based care, elderly care, health talks, litter picking, and building/construction. As such, there are typically many volunteers cycling through this location. I was lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of time with the volunteers and staff at African Impact – the hostel I stayed at in Livingstone serves as their base, and I stayed there close to 3 weeks. There is a minimum 2-week commitment for volunteers, but most stay around 4 weeks and some even longer. The volunteers are organized by project coordinators who work tirelessly to ensure the volunteers know where they are going and when as there are morning and afternoon sessions for most projects. The coordinators also ensure the volunteers are prepping for their project visits in advance, deal with any issues that arise, and organize all of the logistics (including meal times, transportation, weekend activities, and curfew). Volunteers can range greatly in age depending on time of year, but since it’s now summer break for many universities, most of the volunteers were on the younger side. They come from all over the world, so it was nice to see so many cultures working together seamlessly.

During my official GlobalGiving site visit, I went to the Zambezi Sawmills Primary School. African Impact has been working here for about 6 years and places volunteer teachers in the classrooms. There are close to 600 kids at this school but only 5 classrooms so most kids are only able to attend school for a few hours per day as they must operate on a staggered schedule to accommodate everyone. Happy Africa has recently renovated an existing classroom block and are raising funds to build additional classroom blocks to help with the overcrowding situation. Zambezi Sawmills is a community school, serving only grades 1-7, and therefore does not receive any government funding. By adding more classroom blocks, the school will be able to accommodate grades 8 and 9 to achieve basic school status and begin to receive government funding. This additional source of funding will help the school become more self-sustainable. Another project helping the school to become self-sustainable is a garden. Here, the students are helping to grow their own food for meals while learning about agriculture in the process. Happy Africa also helped fund a borehole at this school so they now have access to safe water.

There are over 70 languages spoken in Zambia, but only 7 are officially taught in schools across the country. This means that for many, school is not taught in their native language, adding another barrier to learning. African Impact created and implemented a Happy Readers scheme, designed to help kids whose second language is English. The teachers use this scheme during their regular classroom teaching, with the help and support of the volunteers. African Impact also organizes a reading club twice per week to help kids further their reading skills.

During my time in Livingstone, I also went on a project visit to see what it was like to volunteer with African Impact for the day. The project I visited was a girl impact session held at one of the local schools. The organization has an incredibly thorough manual of what to teach at each of these weekly sessions and the topic during my visit was saving money. The volunteers took turns teaching the lessons interspersed with activities for the girls to complete. It was really great to hear them share their thoughts and experiences with money and the amount of giggling during the activities seemed like they were enjoying it as well. At the end of the session, the girls all wrote on a chalkboard what they wanted to save their money for. One of the most eye-opening items for me was a girl who wanted to save enough money to see Victoria Falls. This girl has spent her entire life living 5 minutes from the Falls, but has never been able to see it.

Both African Impact and The Happy Africa Foundation are wonderful organizations working incredibly hard to help rural communities throughout Africa. I was very impressed at the level of accountability and systematic structure within both organizations and would encourage anyone who wants to spend time volunteering in Africa to take a look at the wide variety of projects they offer.’

We are in the last stages of fundraising. To help us achieve our goals go to GlobalGiving to donate on donate through our website.

Dumela Lodge Craft Shop

By | Stories

Two months ago the Dumela Bar got moved into what used to be the Reception to make space for the brand new project office. With the move the opportunity arose to expand on the bar activities by adding locally produced souvenirs to the assortment.

Now two month later we have a total of 6 local partners of which one is a weavers collective that employs ten local women.

The first thing you see when you visit the Dumela Shop are the background stories of our contributors. Next to the each story a picture of the contributor can be found accompanied by a number that corresponds with the first number of the product code which can be found on the price tag. This way customers can easily find out who the crafter of their purchase is and what their stories are.
The concept of the shop is that crafters can contribute their crafts to the shop for a set period of time, determined by the crafter. Our job is then to try and sell their pieces of craft within that period of time and if we manage to sell their product they will receive their payment, otherwise we will return their products. This way the crafter does not have any risks on his side and on the long term this system will tell us and the crafters which product are in high demand and therefore which products the crafter can focus on to produce.

The crafters we work with are not chosen by coincidence. All of our contributors are highly skilled but struggling to place their products on the market. Through our contact and the lessons we learn by selling their products at Dumela we can assist in their market development.

Currently our product range includes stone and metal sculptures, table cloth and runners of different sizes and designs, different types of rugs and carpets, bags and many other products.

Our vision for the future is to find more ways to expose our contributors. With the knowledge we gain from selling their products at our shop we could eventually approach other lodges and markets, and thus hopefully secure a sustainable income for the local crafters.

We would also like to make use of this opportunity to once more thank everyone who was involved in creating the shop. To the volunteers who purchased goods at the shop thus supporting the local community and to all the volunteers who brought donations with to the Dumela Lodge, your donations are very much appreciated!

Leaving Ireland for Zanzibar

By | Stories

Our new Zanzibar intern, Lauren, wanted to use her skills, to travel and gain a tan that didn’t come from a bottle! She was searching for an opportunity that combined working in a charity with an amazing destination. What really drew her to this particular internship was our projects.

“Two weeks ago I packed up and left my home country of Ireland to join The Happy Africa Foundation as their sustainable development intern in the beautiful island of Zanzibar. The Happy Africa Foundation (THAF) is responsible for managing donations and allocating funds to African Impact focal projects such as building the community center in Jambiani or supporting the conservation club in Kizimkaze. Over the next 6 months I will work closely with African Impact’s teaching and marine projects to identify areas that require financial support and organize fundraisers for these projects as a result.

African Impact’s motto “Explore, Inspire, Impact” and it is that exact promise that drew me from my comfortable corporate life in Ireland to the pole pole of Zanzibar. Einstein said “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile”. With this in mind and adventure at heart, I hopped on a plane to Zanzibar. I had never been to Africa and I had no idea what to expect but with I can safely say it was the greatest decision I have made. While I expected to give my time and skills I never expected to gain so much in such little time here. My first two weeks has taught me a huge amount on life in Africa. Everyone has extended their karibu to me with smiles and the THAF and African Impact team have made me feel at home away from home.

It is heartwarming to see the honesty and kindness of the local people of Zanzibar. I believe understanding and supporting the local people and communities is essential to a sustainable impact. I hope to spend my time getting to know the community and how I can best contribute during my time here. This week I joined the Marine Conservation project and I will be taking part in the Dolphin, fisherman and boat driver data collection as well as teaching the conservation club. I feel unbelievably lucky that I have the opportunity to be in the presence of such intelligent beautiful creatures and I feel that it is our responsibility to protect them. I am also excited to teach the conservation club as it is driven by the huge interest of the young people.

What is obvious is the passion behind this project from marine project managers Celeste and Lisa. The time and effort they put into their work and volunteers is testament to the impact of this project over the past two years. The quote “Our world in not inherited from our ancestors but borrowed from our children” was mentioned in my introduction to the marine conservation project and it is clear that this idea has led all of the project initiatives. Without the work of this conservation project this little fishing village will suffer greatly as fish numbers deplete and their food source is destroyed. Educating young people today through the conservation club will produce the environmentally conscious leaders of tomorrow. I can’t wait to get stuck in!”

My Life as an Intern

By | Stories

I came to Livingstone initially for 6 months not knowing what I would find in a country I’d never been to and a charity I didn’t yet know much about. I was excited and I was nervous, but I hadn’t even begun to imagine what an amazing experience this would be.

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Wildlife Crocodile Centre Trip

By | Stories

This month in St Lucia we were able to take our ‘After School Club’ children on an Educational Trip to Kwazulu-Natal Wildlife Crocodile Centre. The children were able to build their knowledge on anti-poaching and general conservation for the beautiful animals we share our home here with in St Lucia.

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