Staying at the community
You'll be staying at the charities Eco-Village and Libary along with other volunteers, members of staff working for the charity and as various members of the local community.
Heres a bit about what lifes going to be like living and volunteering with the community.
About the Accommodation
The community can be found in the rural regions of Mpumalanga, North East South Africa. This stunning part of the country includes mountain escarpments, open savannahs and bushveld. The community itself is bordered by agricultural land and game reserves meaning an abundance of wildlife.
The charity's Eco-Village and Library is near Sigagule village and the Kruger National Parks Orpen Gate, approximately 30 minutes drive from Hoedspruit the largest local town.
During your time volunteering you'll be staying in 2 person shared rooms. Although you'll be living in the rurals of Africa each room has a fan which is vital in the summer, mains electrics and power to charge any electronics such as phones or cameras, single bed and storage space for your belongings and clothes so you will have all the necessities for a comfortable happy time.
Although the rooms themselves do not have bathrooms there are communal bathrooms and out houses that you, the other volunteers and charity staff members will share.
Kitchen and communal
The eco-village has a fully equipped kitchen and various communal dinning areas you and the other volunteers and staff members can make use of.
During your stay you'll liaise with the resident cooks and other volunteers to decide what kind of breakfast, lunches and dinners you would prefer as well as if you want to cook for yourself, as a group or let the cooks do what they do best. In addition to the indoor cooking area the are also outside fire pits for you to experience the favourite meal of rural South Africa, The "Braai" or BBQ as we know it and dine by the fire under the stars.
There are various communal areas with sofas, seats, books, art (some made by the local artists) maps and information about the local area. Perfect places for you to relax and spend your down time be it reading a book or getting to know the people you'll be living with.
On site amenities
On site activities
During your freetime after a hard day's work or over weekends you'll usually spend your time socialising and relaxing with other volunteers, staff members and community members you've been living and working along side.
There's little in the way of TV or Internet at the community but board games and cards are all great ways to have a bit of fun and pass time. Feel free to bring your own board or card games that you find most entertaining!
Sports and ball games are hugely popular locally with children and adults alike. There's a football pitch as well as plenty of space to play any sport you wish, football is one of the nations favourites but anything from cricket to frisbee is always enjoyed. Again your free to bring and share your own favourite ball, racket or equipment.
The charity has just finished constructing its own pool on site which for anyone volunteering during the African summer will be a prime spot to enjoy a hot summer's days with new friends.
In addition to the various communal areas there's also a communal bar which you and the other volunteers and charity staff members can make use of. A great place to socialize and swap stories. Town trips will give you the chance to pick up a few drinks of your choosing and stock the bar with.
Please remember although it is common in South African to enjoy a beers or two on the weekend after a weeks work to do so safely.
Phone and Wifi
Due to the remote location of the community there is no regularly available wifi or internet.
During weekends or any trips into the town of Hoedspruit there is internet available at most cafes or restaurants for you to make use of and help upload photos, videos, catch up with friends and family and tell them of your exploits.
Signal around the community and eco-village is relatively good so for those wishing to purchase a pay as you go South African sim you will be able to create and connect to your own mobile network. Pay as you go sims will be available both at the airport when you arrive as well as from the local town of Hoedspruit.
Their are onsite laundry facilities where you will be able keep your cloths fresh and clean, ready to get dirty again during any projects or activities.
Safety and security
During your stay at the eco-village and with the community you will be able to relax in safety as you live and work in a friendly, hospitable group of people who will quickly become your good friends.
Although you will be living and working with a group of people you can trust please be mindful that you will be staying in an area which is known for its abundance of local wildlife. For the most part you don't need to worry about any larger, dangerous animals such as elephants or lions but farm animals such as cattle or goats are common as well as but smaller animals such as spiders, snakes, scorpions or even others such as monkeys or warthogs.
Please give these animals distance and do not approach them, if you feel they are a danger to you or other members of the community please notify the charity staff and they will respond appropriately.
Also be careful walking around at night, don't walk alone and carry a torch as this when animals often become most active in the area.
There will always be one or two members of staff on site at anytime to deal with an emergencies should they arise as well as provide you general supervision and support.
During any town visits or trips to external places please be careful with your valuables, don't unnecessarily advertise their presence or leave them unattended.
Equally be cautious when talking to strangers and members of the public, although most South Africans are friendly people and will be very interested in you please don't put yourself at risk either through taking lifts from strangers or follow them to unknown areas.
Rules and respect.
During your time with the community it wont just be the home of the people your living with but also temporarily yours! Please feel relaxed and comfortable while staying there but make sure to treat the place and any other volunteers, staff or the people who live there with respect and you will be treated like wise.
You will be working with and staying around children. Please be aware of that and your behaviour accordingly.
About South Africa
A bit about South Africa
Its often not realise how large South Africa is. Its the same size as the UK, France and Germany combined! As a result there's many different people and cultures living throughout the country, with 11 official languages its a testament to its multi-culturalism and identity as the rainbow nation.
The community you'll be living and working with are Shangaan. The Shangaan live in the North East part of South Africa are part of the greater Tsonga language group who's people extend into Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The Shangaan like all people in South Africa have their own heritage, unique history and language but don't worry the majority of the community is multi lingual with most able speak English and probably one or two other of the 11 official languages found in South Africa.
No doubt locals will be as interested with your culture as you are with there's so its a great experience for both of you to learn and share with each other. The people of South Africa are known for their friendliness and hospitality, as well as zest for life, not sweating the small stuff and understanding how to live in the moment.
One thing that you should know in advance is due to this somewhat relaxed mentality certain bizarre European notions like punctuality are not as enforced locally. The saying "TIA" (This is Africa) is one of the nations favourite reasons for explain why a plan or commitment was not completed exactly when planned. Regardless although it will get done later than promised, they always get done in the end... TIA.