Hi, I’m Richard, 21 years old and I’m from near Hanover.

After graduating from high school two years ago, I thought I knew exactly where I was headed. To study economics in the USA. During my application process, I did a federal voluntary service in a church, which turned my life upside down. Not only did I come to believe in God, but my entire set of values changed so rapidly that I had to reorient myself for another year. My Bible school, which I attended for a year, helped me with this reorientation. I can now put the knowledge I acquired there into practice in Africa.

I had to wait for months to finally be able to enter South Africa and then everything happened very quickly. The flight was booked and I had to pack my bags. 

On my first day, I went straight to the township. There I got a first insight into the work I am allowed to do every Tuesday. A few South African volunteers and I meet up with boys aged 9-17 from the township. The afternoons are usually organized in such a way that we start with an icebreaker. Then we have a short input, for example on the topic of identity. My first thought was: “How am I supposed to deal with so many kids from different culture and build relationships?” This question no longer arises for me. I am amazed how easy it was to build relationships with the team members and the kids). It’s a special moment for me every time I see the boys again and I can clearly see the joy on their faces. 

On the other working days, I am at Clever Kids Homework Centre. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been helping the seventh graders prepare for exams. My old (school)-knowledge was really put to the test. As I joined at the end of the school year and the children were in the middle of an exam period, I had to improvise a lesson on a new topic almost every day. What was initially difficult for me has now become a pleasant process. I am delighted to be able to teach seventh grade. Especially as my work is not just limited to teaching, but I can also have intimate conversations with the children from time to time. It’s a gift for me to hear about their worries and at the same time be able to shape them and pass on good values to them.

After work, there is usually no question of whether we could do anything else, as the sheer endless possibilities open all doors. The Cape Town area has so much to offer that as volunteers we experience something new almost every day and have to force ourselves to take a break from time to time. As strange as it may sound – one of my biggest challenges was not the work or the confrontation with poverty, but simply doing nothing and enjoying the peace and quiet. 

But of course I find that difficult in Cape Town: I love nature and it is breathtaking here: be it the meter-high waves that crash onto rocks on some beaches, miles of sandy beaches, picturesque sunsets or the mountain landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see. I often can’t get enough of the beauty of this country and find it all the more incredible that I have the privilege of living here for another five months.

One month has already passed and I have gained wonderful experiences that will stay with me for a lifetime. It is exciting to wonder what the next five months will bring, but I am confident that they will be a formative and unforgettable time for me, those around me and the children.