While in South Africa, I was hopping to not only teach but to spend some time volunteering or visiting a school or center that caters to underprivileged children. Well today I got my wish. I will be volunteering two days a week at the Integrated Community Development Programme or ICDP. Since I have only been in Grahamstown for about four days, I have not been able to see more than the block that I live on and the school. But my school has a lot of poor areas or shanty towns around it, and because of this my school started this outreach program to help the children growing up in these areas. Th ICDP does many things for these children. One of them is having a preschool for children ages 4 to 6. Another part of the ICDP is the ACE project or the After Care and Enrichment program. This is what I will be involved in. The children that I work with and that attend this program and the preschool come from extreme poverty. They come from abusive homes, parents that are infected with HIV, or they are in the orphaned due to parents dying from HIV and AIDS. They have very very little but they are extremely strong young people. Some of the children are infected with HIV themselves, but thanks to this center they are able to have a safe place to go after school. When they come to the center they are able to eat a meal, which for some will be their first and last meal of the day. They can do their home work, read, and play games. The center also sends home sandwiches with the students each day so they may have something to eat in the morning before school.
I am so happy that I will have the opportunity to help and work with these amazing children while in South Africa. I know that I will learn a lot from them and help them in any way I can. The center functions off purely donations from the community and Kingswood. Unfortunately, this is not enough to keep the center running at its best. They need many things including money to keep its doors open and to provide a safe place for the children to come. So, why am I telling you all this…I am so glad you asked! I want to help them. And because you all love me and support me I am sure you would want to help in any way you could. I hope to collect clothes, shoes, toys, books, and money and then donate them to the center. I wish I could do a lot more but every little bit helps. I am not asking for a lot. If you would like to help me or you are interested in helping please contact me as soon as you can. I will be working with my mother to put together some information to send out to friends and family and different organizations asking for help. I know that poverty exists all over the world. And there are many worthy causes that you could help out, but all I know is that there is a need and I could not return home without helping in some way. So if you are interested or want more information in how you can help or about the center please feel free to email me and ask! I will put up pictures of the center and some of the children soon. I thank all of you for reading my blog and for helping me. It would make a world of difference to these children to just have a meal everyday, so whatever you can do please know it will be needed!