Do you love to volunteer? Do you love to travel? Do you love giving back to those most in need? Are you always planning your next trip? Are you passionate about making difference? If you answered "hell yeah" to all of these questions, then the Botshabelo Volunteer Experience is the perfect fit for you.
Our mission, bring the Botshabelo Community Development Project to life. From creating and upgrading infrastructure to making friends with a loving community of children, women and men, we promise a trip of a life time. While a project like this takes a great deal of hard work, we believe it's important to play just as hard. And we're positive there will be lots of time to do that too.
We are looking for 8-10 volunteers to join us for a one-of-a-kind experience in September 2021.
Duration: 18 days, 17 nights
Dates: 2021 dates coming Winter 2020
Departing: Vancouver International Airport (YVR) or Toronto International Airport (YYZ)
Cost: $3150 CAD per person
Cost Includes: Flights, accommodations, transportation, food and water, security, and a 4 day/3 night safari. Also included in the cost of the experience is transportation gratuities for our drivers, game ranger.
Optional Activities: market trips, Apartheid Museum, Cradle of Humankind, extras at safari lodge
Carbon Offset: we know that flying leaves a tremendous carbon footprint on the planet. We are pleased to announce that as of September 2021, CSW will be offsetting the carbon impact for all volunteer flights.
Days 1-3: Travel & Orientation
Your first two days will be spent in the air and perusing airports. Whether you're departing Toronto or Vancouver, the journey is certainly a long haul. This is the perfect time to read a new book, catch up on the latest movies or sleep!
Since volunteers will be arriving in Jo'burg at different times, we will be meeting at one of the many airport hotels for a good night’s rest before heading to Botshabelo the following day. It’s likely that we’ll spend the night at the O.R. Tambo Premier Hotel.
The next morning we’ll enjoy a buffet breakfast before stopping at the Apartheid Museum. This will give us a chance to explore the rich history of South Africa. The Apartheid Museum is an important part of setting the tone for the days ahead as it helps volunteers understand why the Botshabelo Community Development Trust exists today. Following our visit to the museum, we’ll make the hour and a half drive to Botshabelo located in Magaliesburg, South Africa.
Pulling into the village, you’ll know just how excited everyone is to meet you as the kids run along side the car waiting for the door to swing open. Once you’ve met about 50 new faces, received about 100 hugs, and finally get settled in, we’ll head for a lovely golden hour walk up the mountain. In the evening, we’ll cook a family-style meal and get to know each other with a few ice breakers. After dinner the founders and managers of Botshabelo, Leigh, Nicole, and Marion Cloete, will lead us through a brief orientation and review the basic Botshabelo do’s and don’ts to make sure everyone is safe and secure for their stay.
Day 4: Welcome to Botshabelo
Wake up call is around 7:30am. The day starts early when there's work to be done. We'll meet for a team breakfast, get to know each other a little better and take a tour of the community. Get ready for hugs, high fives, and lots of stares from curious village children as we cruise around.
We’ll head back to the cottages for a briefing on the project work ahead. During this time we’ll game plan what work needs to be done, who is needed where, and exactly what work we’ll be doing for the next few days.
After lunch we’ll begin to tackle some major project work, spend some time with the kids and regroup for dinner together. Each evening we'll meet for team dinner and "downloading." There’s a lot happening at Botshabelo, and we recognize that it’s important to hold the space for one another to not only process their experience, but also share whatever might be on the mind. We’ll use this time to reflect and prepare for the next day.
Days 5 -6: Selfies, Songs, Soccer and Dance Parties
Even on weekends at Botshabelo everyone is up early, and that means us too. We’ll start the morning with a nice breakfast and spend some time with the kids. Get ready to dance up a storm in front of the cottages, take a million selfies and head to the creche for some time with the babies. Feeling like a little competition? Head on over to the soccer field for a game or two. If the weather is right, we might even visit the pool for some swimming. Looking for a little quite time? Enjoy a nap, spend some time journaling or do some reading.
Our time in the community is of course limited, so we will also find a balance between work and play as we crush a few to-do’s while the kids are at tea-time, lunch and dinner. Weekends are wash days in the community, so we’ll all take turns getting any dusty threads cleaned for the next week.
Weekend nights at Botshabelo are nothing short of exciting. You're invited up to the dorms for a dance party with the kiddos. Dance, sing, laugh and learn some new moves. And, if the mood is right, we might even get to enjoy a bonfire at the cottages.
Days 7 - 9: Project Time
Monday morning means the kids are back at school and we're in full gear tackling the various items on our project list. Wake up call is around 7:00am, and work begins at 8:30 sharp. Each morning we'll meet for breakfast and gather what we need for the day. If you’re up and ready, join the kids for morning brain gym before getting started on projects.
Our work strategy is to divide and conquer, so we'll break into project groups and get to work. From cleaning the solar panels, auditing the community’s energy consumption, trimming the trees, harvesting mushrooms, inoculating mushroom grow bags, and working on the water system, everyone will get a chance to experience different tasks throughout the day. We'll break for lunch and take some time to rest and recuperate before we head back to work in the afternoon.
At Botshabelo we like to wind down the night with an evening stroll through the graveyard and the healing circle. Get your cameras ready because golden hour on this walk is beautiful. For those interested in round of evening volleyball, it’s on! We play by house rules though.
Each day brings exciting opportunities we simply cannot plan for, so our schedule offers lots of room for free time and optional activities. We'll wrap up each day with dinner and downloading, but after a long day of work and lots of fresh air, you'll probably want to head straight to bed. For those night owls, a clear night sky at Botshabelo offers a look at the stars like you've never seen before. Join Matt for a little astro-photography out in the field before turning in for the night.
Day 10: To Market To Market
Today, we’ll take some well-deserved time to head to the Bryanston Organic Market. Here we’ll sample some local organic treats and enjoy one-of-a-kind shopping. This is a great place to pick up some souvenirs and find something special for you to bring home. If we haven’t already, on the way back, we’ll visit the Cradle of Humankind Museum and learn all about our early ancestors like Australopithecus Afarensis and Homo Habilis. If time, and interest permits, we’ll get a chance to explore the Sterkfontein Caves where, Little Foot, was discovered.
On our way back, we’ll stop by the local grocery store to pick up dinner and any groceries we’ll need to get us through the rest of our stay in the community. If we’re lucky, one of these evenings, Marion will join us for a little bit of Pin Code. What is Pin Code? It’s a personality assessment, that does not disappoint.
Before school photoshoot.
Calvin getting comfortable with his Gait trainer.
Our 2018 Botshabelo volunteer group.
Before school photoshoot.
Photos by Epic Existence Studios & CSW
Days 11 - 13: Time Flies When You're Having a Blast
We’ll be shocked how quickly time has flown by as we enter our last three days at Botshabelo. We’ll spend the weekend completing our remaining project items, followed by the usual evening downloading. We’ll spend these days soaking up time with the kids and we’ll get ready for a little Showtime” performance put on by the community children. It’s become custom that our volunteers put on a performance of their own, so we’ll of course come ready to show the kids what we’ve got!
It will however soon be time to pack up and head off on our safari, so we’ll make time on Sunday to get organized for the next leg of our journey. Before we leave, we'll tidy up the
guest houses, pack up our goodies and get ready to experience a South African safari. It will be early to bed on our last night since our transportation will pick us up bright and early the next day.
But don’t worry, we won’t leave before we get to say goodbye to all of our new friends.
Day 14: We Say Goodbye, But Not Forever
Goodbyes are hard, and leaving Botshabelo will certainly tug on your heart strings. We'll take the morning to say our farewells, and watch as the children sing us out. Try not to cry, we dare you. Our driver will arrive at Botshabelo around 8:30 AM and take us the few hours to our safari destination. Here we'll be greeted by the warm and friendly staff; brace yourselves, because you’re about to feel like royalty. We'll enjoy lunch and some optional amenities poolside before we head out for our evening safari. Take some time to swim, catch up on
some reading or enjoy a nap swooned by the sound of the amazing birds.
Evening safaris leave at 4:00 PM and last about 3-4 hours. After returning from our game drive, we'll have some time to freshen up for a delicious buffet dinner. Here you'll get to sample the local cuisine, share your game drive stories and enjoy the company. After dinner, sit by the fire, sit out on your patio and/or enjoy a little night cap. Either way, it’s early to bed since we're up around 5:00 AM ready for our morning game drive.
Days 15-16: South African Safari
On safari, morning wake-up call is early. But with an exciting day ahead, we’ll be up with no troubles! Grab a quick coffee and snack from the main house before heading out for the first sunrise game drive. If you’re lucky you’ll get a chance to see some of the Big Five (lion, leopard, black rhino, elephant, buffalo). Following the morning game drive, we’ll return to a beautiful buffet breakfast served on the patio overlooking the reserve. Maybe some zebras or elephants will stop by for a visit at the watering hole.
After breakfast, the day is yours to enjoy the optional amenities offered by the accommodation. Try out some drumming, hit up the spa, or head for a Segway tour (extra costs applied to your room bill).
Our favourite thing to do is sit by the pool with a delicious smoothie and listen to the birds. Lunch is served out on the patio in the sun at 1:00 PM and goes until about 3:00 PM. We recommend indulging in any spa treatments before lunch. At 4:00 PM we'll meet for another evening safari and hopefully get a last glimpse of the big five. Upon our return, we’ll enjoy another delicious dinner together.
Days 17-18: Homeward Bound
We'll be up early for our final game drive. Today you'll get to enjoy the sunrise with coffee and snacks in hand. It's a sight you won't want to miss. We'll all meet back at the main lodge for a poolside breakfast and pack our things for the journey home. Our driver will meet us at the main house ready to take us to the airport around 11:00 AM. As we pile in the car, we’ll bid farewell to our amazing Ranger and the lodge staff.
Once we arrive at the airport, we'll check in, and head to the gate for our final flights home. After two life changing weeks together, it will be hard to say goodbye to one another, but we’ll all be looking forward to a night in our own beds. With some time to kill at O.R. Tambo Airport, you’ll get to enjoy the good eats and excellent shopping. The airport is a great place to pick up some last-minute souvenirs for yourself, your family and friends. Rest assured, there'll be plenty to do while you wait to board for your flight home.
The next day you’ll arrive home, collect your luggage and get back to the day-to-day swing of things. But now, things will feel strange. Life will probably be a little bit different and that’s because you’ll have just accomplished something that most humans only dream about. With a heart full of love and gratitude, you'll soon realize this won't be your last trip to mother Africa.