I have often wondered what the true value of a few hours of volunteering are. Yes, there is the feel good factor of lulling your conscience, painting a crèche or giving out a sandwich or bowl of soap. But what are the true results; the long term implications of sporadically giving some of your time here and there, but never committing towards having a critical look at your own lifestyle?
I have been challenged with this thought on various occasions, specifically at the recent TEDxYouth@CapeTown
, where young speakers spoke out about how they are, and want to be, the change they wish to see in our beautiful country. I easily get overwhelmed by the enormity of the problems, but here – through these passionate change agents, I was once again reminded and encouraged that wherever you are, that is where you can be the change. The flame of this inspiration was further fuelled when I received news of the new GreenPop Volunteer and Internship programmes – another great example of living the change – and getting your hands dirty in the process!
The core conclusion I have made for myself is that whatever you can give, be it time, money, energy, skills or just a helping hand – give it. Where you are, with what you have – that is where we can be the change. I believe it is about a change in perspective in realising that we are not called to change THE world, but we are all called to change OUR world.
When feeling paralysed by the pressing issues of hunger, poverty, education or the exploitation of nature, doing what you can do in YOUR world is the beginning that will sustain you. I say “begin”, because although I firmly believe in the wonderful world of random acts of kindness and the power of volunteering even just a few hours at a sustainably managed project, this is just the start. Living in, or even just visiting, a complex developing country like South Africa, we are called towards rethinking OUR world and inviting a lifestyle of giving. We must discover the sustainability of serving.
Ultimately that is what we do – whether the receiver is our community, neglected animals, children without proper education or the planet – we are serving outside ourselves and through this connecting the dots between all the valuable change agents in our country.
One such a change agent is GreenPop. This social enterprise is dedicated to planting trees in under-greened and deforested areas, uplifting communities, and spreading environmental education. By serving the planet and communities they are making greening fun and accessible. GreenPop started in September 2010 and has since planted over 12000 trees in over 150 beneficiary schools, crèches, orphanages, old-age homes, community centres as well as deforested areas.
This journey has lead them to launching the exciting new environmental volunteer and internship programmes. These programs offer a unique and rewarding experience to people on their gap year or career break, students seeking to work in the environmental industry, or anyone who would like to add more meaning to their holiday to South Africa.
The Urban Greening and Environmental Education Volunteer Project
in Cape Town, South Africa allows people from around the world to join GreenPop for 2 to 8 weeks and assist with projects on the ground. Volunteers will plant fruit and indigenous trees at schools, crèche’s, and community centres in arid areas around Cape Town, educate children on the importance of trees and the environment, and monitor trees that have already been planted. Volunteers will also have a chance to get involved with other green initiatives in Cape Town.
The Environmental Internship Programme
, also based in Cape Town, invites people to join the GreenPop team for 8 to 12 weeks and gain work experience in the environmental field. The internship is mostly office-based, but interns will have the opportunity to join occasional planting days as well. Depending on their experience and interest, interns can get involved in areas like marketing, communications, social media, operations, and research.
All volunteers and interns pay a fee that includes accommodation at a guesthouse, meals, airport transfers, and transport on the ground, project tools, and guidance by the GreenPop team.
Through these programmes volunteers and interns will experience a few weeks that will, without a doubt, provide a life changing perspective on serving the planet.
GreenPop can also tailor-make planting days for company or tour group clients for a unique way to contribute towards a greener Africa.
There is an African proverb that goes: "When you plant a tree, never plant only one. Plant three - one for shade, one for fruit, one for beauty." So whether the reciever is the planet, your community, an animal or neighbour – let serving become a foundation for your lifestyle.
For more information contact:
+27(0)21 461 9265