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“It's really a special experience”: Tiana’s South Africa Expedition

Tiana, 25 from Hong Kong, volunteered on a ten week Expedition in Kruger, South Africa, after taking the decision to step away from the world of work and into the world of international volunteering.

On her Expedition she took part in a community project, an environmental project and an adventure leadership trek, on an experience which boosted her confidence and communication skills.

Tiana in South Africa volunteer

“I wanted to travel to South Africa because I’ve never been to a place so far from Asia before. I live in a really big city, Hong Kong, which is basically just buildings, concrete and not much wild animals.”

“I am 25 years old, and so far I’ve basically just done everything that’s been in the plan. I’ve gone to school, university and then straight into the world of work. So I wanted to do something very bold, and in fact quitting my job and coming here has been very bold. I wanted to do something like this which gives an excitement to my life.”

Tiana on project in Kruger South Africa

A community project which makes a real difference

For our community project our team had two main tasks. One is to build a playground for the local children alongside project partner Nourish, and the second one is to build a vegetable garden near a primary school so we can give fresh food supply to the children there.

“For the playground we started with a patch of bare land. We cut down all the grasses, prepared decking and poles, then we built the structure. We then painted and decorated it. It’s a really fun project!”

“On the last day of the project, which happened to be Mandela Day, we did an action day. We invited the children and community, and then we had an opening ceremony. And that’s when I felt a very real sense that I’ve achieved something… Because we saw the children playing on it very happily. When we came back later we saw it was being used, the children were actually playing in the playground that we built, that was something very cool.”

Tiana on community project in Saville B, Kruger, South Africa

Conquering the challenge of the Drakensberg Mountains

“Adapting to a whole new mixture of people and a new environment, it’s really challenging at first. Half way through the trek was the most challenging route, we just kept climbing super high. We climbed around 800 or 900 meters. But everyone just worked so well together. The team work and team spirit, it’s just really, really great.”

Tiana on trek in South Africa

I think we rocked those few days, I just kept enjoying myself until the end.There’s a lot of challenges, but I enjoyed the last few days, especially when we were under the waterfall. I actually still can’t believe myself that I achieved that and finished the route.

“It’s something that I have really never experienced before in my entire life. But I just loved everyone being on the mountain, without their phones, walking and chatting together. I actually enjoyed that the most.”

Trek moment South Africa

Conserving and protecting nature in the Greater Kruger area

“For my environmental phase we worked on fence line removal and erosion control work. We also helped remove snares that pose a threat to the animals.”

“Removing fences actually allow the animals to have a bigger living area so they can walk freely and safely, it’s so they won’t get trapped and get caught on metal. On the project we also cut down some trees which are invasive and should not be in this kind of environment.”

Tiana on Environment project in South Africa

A special moment taking a walk on the wild side

“When sleeping in the tent, we could hear the hippos. And one time during lunch, elephants surrounded our campsite.”

We weren’t in danger, we went by the toilet block and then just sat there and watched them until they were gone. We sat and observed them for two hours under the sun. It’s definitely better than seeing animals on game drives, because it’s your place. It’s another whole new experience.

“Volunteering here feels like game drives every day when driving past different animals that I’ve never seen in my life, learning so much from our guide Katie, gaining knowledge on things like tracking, identifying different animals and footprints.”

Elephant in champion envrionment project

What I have learnt on my Expedition

“I would say personally I felt I really enjoyed the time here and I found out that I’m good at communicating with people, even though English is my second language.”

“When I asked my team if they felt like there was a gap between us with our cultural differences, everyone says no. We just work so well together.”

I think I also got more time to focus on myself personally during these 10 weeks. Before while working I didn’t really have time for myself, but during this Expedition, I got some extra time to focus on myself.

Volunteers watch sunset in Kruger

To others thinking of joining a Raleigh Expedition… Be brave, don’t limit yourself

“Be brave and don’t limit yourself. Think wild and accept more. Just embrace the environment.”

You will never ever have a chance to experience something like this other than in South Africa and with Raleigh. The people, the culture, it’s very different. This is my first time ever being on this Africa continent, so it’s really a special experience for me.

“You can definitely learn a lot. I’ve felt it in myself and seen it in other volunteers. I can tell that they have changed a lot, they have grown a lot. So I think just come and spend your time here and you will find a complete new version of yourself, and realise the capabilities you have.”

Build your confidence, discover your passions, grow your skillset on an adventure with purpose, and find out exactly how volunteering can change you. Join your Raleigh Expedition in South Africa or Costa Rica in 2024.

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