Hello, my name is Leonie, I am twenty years old and come from near Heidelberg. In my free time I like to do sports like dancing, hiking, swimming and cycling. I love traveling, discovering new places and meeting people.

I finished school in 2023 and decided to go abroad for a year after graduating from high school. South Africa has long been an interesting country for me in terms of culture and landscape, so I looked around the Cape Town area for projects and places to work and found the Lern- und Lebenshilfe Masiphumelele e.V. association.

Now I’m here from September 2023 to July 2024 and am working in two of the NGO’s projects. On the one hand, I help out at the Clever Kids Homework Center. My tasks vary from day to day, I help in the kitchen, go shopping, carry out library studies, help with school/creative projects, prepare individual exercises and tutoring and of course help with homework. At the moment I spend most of my time with the first graders. I felt at home at Clever Kids right from the start because I was made to feel very welcome and accepted by Karin and all the staff. The children are very open towards me and I quickly took them to my heart. It is very touching for me to see how the community at Clever Kids is, how the children play together, laugh, eat, help each other, are happy and how the staff stick together and stand together in faith

The other project I am involved in is Sonwabise-Tese. Svenja and Carolin, the two other volunteers, together with Linda (the group leader), two local volunteers and me, organize a program every Saturday for girls between the ages of thirteen and eighteen who come from Masi. We usually prepare a group game or a dance for the program. Afterwards, we talk about a specific topic such as family, friendship, relationships, faith and then round it off with a devotional or a story from the Bible. At the end, everyone gets a snack and we have fellowship.

Every now and then there are excursions such as a hike or a day at the beach so that the girls can also spend some time outside the township. I am very happy to see how the girls open up to us more and more over time, sharing their thoughts with us and what is currently on their minds. I believe that it is very good for the girls to have the opportunity to talk about certain things in a protected environment, to get to know each other better and, of course, to build friendships with each other.

I had never been to a township before, so it was unusual for me at first and quite impressive, especially when you realize how people in the township live and manage their everyday lives. Dealing with the gap between “rich and poor” in South Africa was particularly challenging at the beginning. However, I am very grateful to have had the experience of getting to know the children, young people and their culture and to be able to accompany and support them on their educational and personal journey. I’m also excited to see what else I can experience with in the Girlsgroup and I’m already looking forward to the rest of my time and everything else I can learn.