Tara’s Trailblazing Trip

Tara Garner works in our Land and Business Team at Sewells and we think she is pretty special. Tara was lucky enough to travel to South Africa recently to volunteer in a childcare centre. We asked her all about the trip.
February 29, 2024

Tara! You recently travelled with some local friends to South Africa to do some volunteer work. Can you tell us about your trip?

I flew over to Cape Town for a couple weeks with some mates and it was amazing. My time spent on a plane there and back was roughly 50 hours (which was the worst part of my trip, other than leaving the kids of course!) While I was there, I saw and experienced a lot. A little culture shock, I think. We did a couple hikes, watched lots of sunsets, spent lots of time at the beach (and got a little sunburnt) and made so many new friends as well. One thing that definitely stood out to me was the difference in communities. We stayed in a place called Muizenberg in the volunteer house, there was about 20 other volunteers there while I was there. We were safe where we were, but you still never went anywhere by yourself. Safety in numbers was drilled into us on our first day. It was about a 10-minute drive the school where my mates and I volunteered at and the change from that 10-minute drive was a shock for sure on my first day. The place was called Capricorn, and it was a very different to what I was used to. You can’t drink the water and the streets are filled with homeless people and rubbish is everywhere. Not what I was expecting. We made so many friends from all over the world, and with some of the locals too. Locals, Justin, Uzzi and Troy made us feel so at home that we didn’t want to leave. Some of the volunteers are already planning a trip to Australia and we promised them a tour of Colac once they arrive.

It looked like eye opening and also a lot of fun! What was your favourite experience?

My favourite experience by far was being with the kids. My age group was 2-to 3-year-olds so they needed a lot of assistance. This allowed us to create a close bond with them very quickly and the kids felt comfortable almost straightaway. We would do everything from painting, egg and spoon races to feeding and then putting the little guys to sleep. A little different to paperwork I’m used to doing here in the office! I enjoyed everything about the kids. The school and the teachers were amazing, you can tell the kids admire them. It was an experience I would encourage everyone to do at least once in their life. We loved it so much we are already planning to go back!

Are there any new skills you learned in South Africa that you’ll be able to apply back home, in the community and with your work with Sewells?

I learnt a lot while being over there. One thing that I will be applying to my life and work is appreciation. The really small things like drinking from atap and having a pair of shoes to wear are things that aren’t a reality for many over there. Despite their challenging circumstances, I’ve never meet happier kids. They are so grateful for everything they have and that they are given. You hear about it and see photos and news reports about the conditions, but until you really experience it, I really don’t think we understand here in Australia. They have so little and yet they do so much with what they have. I definitely won’t be complaining when my phone goes flat, or when the AC isn’t working. Overall, my friends Tegan, Ella, Ava and I wouldn’t change a single thing about our trip. Everything was a learning experience, and it was all amazing. We love Africa and we are all going back!

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