Joy O’Donnell, a nurse from Mayo, shares some of her experiences with the MSC Volunteering Project in the Holy Family Centre, South Africa.
“So, our adventure began just over three weeks ago, from Dublin to Limpopo, where we met the wonderful Holy Family – and that is what I can truly say it is, a family. We arrived tired but excited after our long journey. We were also nervous about meeting the kids, but all I can say is that the welcome we were given overwhelmed us all. We were greeted with open arms, smiling faces, and loads of hugs and cuddles from the kids. They made us feel instantly welcome, and all our nerves left us, as we could see these kids were full of love, fun, life, and liveliness! And that was just the first day!”
“It always amazes me how full of life and love these kids are.”
“For the initial three weeks, some of the children went to relatives for their holidays, which gave us a real chance to get to know a smaller group of kids. We never thought we would get used to their names, but after three weeks, we now know exactly who it is just by the sound of them playing in the morning! It always amazes me how full of life and love these kids are – especially after an early rise of 5.30am! They always greet us with a smile and hug, and are always full of laughter. Like all families, there are disagreements, but it is so beautiful to see how they also look out for each other and care for each other like any brother or sister. Every day, we set up a schedule, which consists of fun activities for the kids to do. Our daily plans include obstacle courses, arts and crafts, crochet, knitting, and baking, and we have also been lucky enough to be able to go on some outings for the kids. It’s been a learning experience for us also, as we were lucky to be here for Nelson Mandela Day. We all got involved in painting flags and making posters, as we had quite a few visitors during the week.”
“Every effort is made to make this a home for these kids, and that’s exactly what it is – and more.”
“So many things have amazed me over these past few weeks – but one in particular will always stand out for me. When we arrived, a four-month-old baby was introduced to us. She was new to Holy Family, and was very quiet and withdrawn. But because of the love and care each member of Holy Family has given her, she is now thriving, smiling, and laughing. This is a true reflection of the amount of love, attention, and care that the staff and kids give to each other. I also love the way that each member is called ‘Aunty’. Every effort is made to make this a home for these kids, and that’s exactly what it is – and more.
There are so many stories and experiences we have had so far, and it only been our third week. Next week, all the kids are back to school, so we are looking forward to meeting new smiling faces and learning names all over again! Every day so far has brought a new experience, and we are all learning from it most definitely!”