Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Volunteer Q&A – Beth Uriel Tutoring

Full name: Murray Armstrong

Congregation: Rondebosch PM

Occupation: Common Ground Church Fuel Team/ UCT Chemical Engineering Student

How long have you been a volunteer at Beth Uriel? 1.5 years

When do you go and for how long? Tuesday nights, 7-9PM

Can you tell us a bit about Beth Uriel? Beth Uriel is a home for male students who are busy completing high school or tertiary education who don’t have a home or family support that is suitable for a learning environment. At Beth Uriel the students receive free lodging, food and transport to and from school. The aim of Beth Uriel is to provide them with a sufficient learning environment to see them finish their secondary or tertiary education and find a vocation. The house has an established history and has been an incredible blessing to many of the boys who have come through their doors.

Can you explain what you do while you’re there? I help with Maths tutoring. Usually if the two guys I help have homework questions we’ll go through them, otherwise I take along past papers and I’ll  assist them when they get stuck or make an error. I try to get them to think and see where their error lies as opposed to just giving them the answer.

You have a very different background to many of the young men at Beth Uriel. Did you feel intimidated by this at first? I was a little apprehensive at first, mostly because I did not know what to expect. But that soon disappeared as I got to know the guys and saw that I was able to help them out. Most of the students are driven to achieve and want to learn and so it was easy to help them with their positive attitudes. Although I come from a completely different background, we quickly found similar interests like soccer or music and so it was easy to establish a friendship.

What are  some of the challenges you face in volunteering? Some of the students don’t have the best foundations in Maths and struggle with English. They can take a long time to perform simple calculations. They often want to always use their calculator instead of doing simple sums in their heads. It can be frustrating for you and them to understand new concepts, especially after you’ve explained it numerous times. Sometimes progress is slow, but I always leave feeling I’ve been part of something good- that keeps me coming back.

What has been the most fulfilling part of your volunteer experience? It’s a great feeling seeing a student grasp a concept that you’ve explained to them. That lightbulb moment is incredible.

– To find out more about tutoring at Beth Uriel, email us at

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