Full name: Jessica Granger
Congregation: Rondebosch PM
Occupation: Graphic designer/ photographer
How long have you been a volunteer at Izandla Zethemba? About seven months
When do you go and for how long? We have a kids or teens fun day on a Saturday, every six to eight weeks from 9-3pm.
Can you explain what you do while you’re there? We take some time before to prepare what has to be done (e.g. making sure the food for the day is sorted, transport sorted, there are enough volunteers etc) Then on the actual day, we take the kids or teens out somewhere fun. A few months ago, we took the kids to the aquarium, which was really nice. Last week, we also combined the kids and teens and took them to Muizenberg beach. We played games with them, built sand castles, played soccer, swam in the sea and had loads of fun! I also help take some of the photos for the fun days. (Click here for pics from the latest one!)
Can you tell us a bit about IZ? Izandla Zethemba is an organization that has various initiatives to help kids, teens and adults who have been affected or infected by HIV/Aids. Its based in Thambo Village (near Gugalethu). IZ runs quite a few different projects including the Izandla Zethemba AIDS project, a second hand clothing store, educational projects and also the kids and teens fun days. They are an amazing organization to work with and are very committed to reaching out to poorer communities. They bring hope and joy to many people in these communities. (I have seen this especially in the lives of the children and teens.)
Many of the children in the programme come from very different, and often difficult, backgrounds. How do you connect with them? I think that by just showing them that you love them (building friendships with them) and care is a good way to connect with them. I try to be very enthusiastic and energetic during the activities (many of the activities involve teams/ groups) and encourage them to work together. It helps to build self-confidence and feeling like they are part of a team. By chatting to them and encouraging them to take part and work together, they feel more connected and more motivated to realize they can achieve things and be successful.
What are some of the challenges you face in volunteering? What keeps you going? I think sometimes the fact that some of the kids/ teens come from very difficult upbringings/ home situations, which makes it tough to really connect with some of them at times. For example, if some of the kids misbehave, its difficult to know how to handle those situations. Just knowing that I can be a part of making a difference in their lives by showing them love and care, and building friendships with them keeps me going, I would say. And also because this is what Jesus calls us to. Jesus said: ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10).
What has been the most fulfilling part of your volunteer experience? I think that realising my call to “live social justice” and responding to it, by volunteering for IZ, has been very fulfilling. Also realising that even though I am volunteering to be an influence in the lives of the kids at IZ, I myself have learnt so much, and they in fact, have influenced me as well. By being part of something bigger than myself where God is so evidently at work has been very fulfilling.
Why not share your feedback or encouragement with Jessica by posting a comment to her below?
-To find out when the next Izandla Zethemba Fun Day is taking place, email email@example.com.