My time as a volunteer at HACT, which was from the 3rd October to the 11th December 2013, has been incredible. From day one everyone embraced me as if I had been part of the team for years. I was stationed in the Marketing and Fundraising Department, and Laurel (the Marketing and Fundraising Co-ordinator) had a to-do list ready upon my arrival. This was perfect – as a postgraduate student I was after valuable experience and only had two and a half months to get it.
Every day was busy, and every day was different from the other. I did office work, but also got to travel out into the communities through my tasks, which was absolutely amazing. Working at a grassroots level was an eye-opening experience. As a student of human rights, my dissertation was on patterns of HIV prevalence rates in South Africa and about questioning the efficiency of South Africa’s human rights commitments in relation to accessing health care and non-discrimination. It was fascinating to witness, as is often the case, a large gap between legislative promises and reality.
I did not only do work in the Marketing and Fundraising Department, but also with interesting projects from other departments. I greatly appreciate the opportunities I got to expand my knowledge, and am grateful for the extensive guidance I received from all my co-workers. I have learnt so much from my time at HACT and, as mentioned, I really felt like part of the team.
People who arrive at HACT says it has a particular feeling to it, and it really does. It is a happy and vibrant place, and there was never a dull moment. I loved every minute of it! Every person there has something unique to offer, and work so hard to make a difference in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It was inspiring and life changing to say the least, and I am so glad to have been a part of it.
Tips for future volunteers:
I can truly recommend being a volunteer at HACT. For future volunteers, I would advise you to research HACT projects, and put some serious thought into how and what you can contribute with before arrival. Time there goes fast, so it is good to get started early. Also, be proactive, and take initiative whilst there. There is ALWAYS something to do.
Photograph below: Fellow volunteer Winnia Wakaba (left) and I playing with a child at the HACT World AIDS Day Christmas Market