Hamza Sheikh, 22, loved his experience on Sports Coaching South Africa so much that he has taken part in our Q&A, hoping to inspire others to volunteer abroad
Here he gives us a real insight into what life is like coaching sport to disadvantaged children in Port Elizabeth…
Why did you decide to volunteer abroad?
After I had finished my final year exams at uni and while most of my friends then ended up going on holiday and travelling around the globe I had decided to go straight into a job. After three months of continuous work it came to a point where I felt pretty exhausted and thought to myself I need a break. I had always wanted to do some volunteering while being at uni but I never seem to have found the time. Since I was now free from studies and after saving up some money from work I decided that instead of taking a normal holiday of being lazy and lying on a beach all day that I would do something new and different like volunteering abroad. After reading all about BUNAC’s Sports Coaching South Africa programme I couldn’t resist booking on! Before I knew it I had a plane ticket in my hand to Port Elizabeth…
What was Port Elizabeth like?
Great people, great weather, great surroundings! It was always hot and sunny which meant we were always outside. The town centre and boardwalk were also amazing with there being so many shops and restaurants. The food was probably the best – the restaurants had high quality food and were cheap (Generally speaking everything there was pretty cheap). The beaches were also very nice and were only a 15 minutes taxi ride from the hostel. Experiencing the African culture and way of life was particularly interesting and exciting.
What was a typical day for you?
Getting up and then going for a nice jog around the area, then coming back to the hostel for a swim. Breakfast was cereal and toast and then we would make our packed lunches which were usually sandwiches, crisps and fruit. After getting our things together we would leave the house by 9.30am and would travel by minibus to the schools. We went to three schools each day spending 90 minutes at each school and would eat our lunches while on the way to the second school. After the third school we would return back to the hostel and by this time it was usually around 4.30 pm which meant we always had lots of time afterwards to do what we want. We would either go to the large mall nearby, go to the pier near the beach, go out for food, or simply relax at the house and play pool or table tennis. Every Wednesday evenings we also went to an arena in the township area and played indoor football which was particularly fun!
How was the hostel?
The best bit about the hostel was that it was easily a great place to socialise with all the other volunteers and get to know each other. We were always together either relaxing by the swimming pool, playing table tennis or pool, playing football or touch rugby in the back garden, or eating and watching tv in the tv room. The rooms were dormitory style with bunk beds and the bathroom area including showers was just like what you would expect here in the UK. Therefore it wasn’t basic living but just like being at home! We had always felt safe too. There was always a security guard at the hostel throughout the day and night and generally speaking the neighbourhood was very safe particularly because the hostel was in a residential area and so there was always police around. The meals provided especially the dinners were delicious – real, authentic African food and there was always plenty to eat!
Want to read more about Hamza's experience in South Africa? Read Part 2 to his blog...
If you'd like to share your BUNAC experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org