I am Chantal Schoenmakers, 21 years old and come from the Netherlands. I am an intern at iKhaya le Themba until July, 2017. Currently, I am in my third year of my study of International Leisure Management, the main part of the third year is for your internship. Before this study I studied to be a teacher at a primary school. So this internship at iKhaya fits me really well! I love to work and be around with and for the children.

How do I see myself contributing to iKhaya?

I will assist the teachers where needed, help the children with their homework and the most important thing for me is to help the children with feeling accepted by me and that they trust me.

Travelling solo across the world is by far the most empowering thing I have ever done. It has already opened up so many doors for me and besides that I also learned a lot about myself.

I decided to do my internship in South Africa for many reasons, but mostly because I want to do something for the children there! It is my first time in Africa and I already love it. When I first arrived in Cape Town I found the people incredibly friendly and open. I had a really warm welcome in the country itself but also at iKhaya le Themba.

The power and joy of this whole experience already gives me, is a big eye opener, due to all the challenges at the same time on what’s going on in the world and in Cape Town.

From the very first day, working at iKhaya went beyond my expectations; starting with entering the township, Imizamo Yethu for the first time. I had some ideas about townships but it was still ‘surprising’ for me. Seeing how the people live here had a real impact on me. The difference between the rich and the poor is really big in South Africa, but still all the inhabitants of the township make everything out of their lives. They are all so positive and that really inspires me to work even harder for them to ensure that they have a safe place to go after school.

Needless to say, Susan, Anri, Phila, Noma, Mhinti, Sanele, Nicolette, Thembi, Neli and Thuli are really dedicated to the true concern and care for the education of their students from grade 1-6. The children really light up when they come to iKhaya and the most important reason for that, is the staff give them the hope to be the child they want to be! I immediately felt honoured and maybe also a little bit emotional from this group of children whose existence is so vulnerable.

In spite of all the challenges and difficulties we currently face in the world, mostly for the children and their families, the existence of iKhaya le Themba and its far-reaching activities creates a lot of hope for the children. The organization illuminates the fact that these people really care and are willing to utilize their skills and abilities towards helping those in need. They see the values within themselves and within their own communities.

Over the past few weeks as an intern at iKhaya I have experiences what happens behind the scenes at the office, as well as a volunteer on the whole project. I help the children with their homework and I am there to give them the feeling that they … At the office I get to be a part of the daily activities, as well as using my marketing and social media skills that are tailored to my interests. Besides that it was also an incredible experience for me to step out of my comfort zone.

Besides only realizing my personal dream to help children in Africa, I also would like to work and be part of a sustainable development project.

My time interning abroad at iKhaya le Themba in Cape Town is sure to be characterized by a work hard, play hard mentality, and I cannot wait to make an impact and have fun doing it!

I’m really looking forward to working with all the teachers, the staff and of course all the lovely children!

Ubenemini emnandi!