Volunteering at Little Footsteps: A Glimpse into Education Inequality in Cape Town

Freiwilligenarbeit bei Little Footsteps: Ein Einblick in die Bildungsungleichheit in Kapstadt
A personal review written by Marie on her volunteering time off experience:

I am currently working remotely from Cape Town and am super grateful for this option, since I hate to spend the winters in the cold 🥶
Cape Town is experiencing a big hype amongst european remote workers at the moment and I totally get why. To me, there is no other city like Cape Town, mostly in positive ways but also in a lot of negative ways. As beautiful as the city is, as contradicting it is. Inequality and immense racism are visible in every corner.

One of the benefits of working for bluplanet is that all employees get volunteering time off, whether it's helping the less privileged, participating in environmental clean-up efforts, or assisting in a community project every employee is free to select a cause of their choice. This already resonated very well with me when I was applying for the job initially. Now being in Cape Town and facing the immense inequality on a daily basis, it was crystal clear for me that I want to use my volunteering days here to help those who are less fortunate.
I found the project “Little footsteps”, a kindergarten project in a colored community outside of Cape Town. Helen, the teacher of the kindergarten and mother Teresa of the community, started the project 4 years ago - in her living room and till today she is sharing her small private space with 15-20 kids in age between 9 months and 8 years.

When I expressed my interest in supporting this project one week on site, to my employer bluplanet, they were more than happy to provide me with a week of paid time off.
The plan was to help Helen out and to give the kids the possibility to play and get to experience certain activities for which normally they simply don’t have the capacity nor the financial means. I visited Helen before my volunteering time off and together we decided that we wanted to use this week to paint the outside wall together with the kids and to do a little day trip to the playground park in one of the suburbs nearby.
This might not seem like a lot or like a crazy activity that kids would love, but they indeed did and on normal kindergarten days they just really don’t get this chance and sadly even less when they are home with their families. When I visited the kindergarten for the first time to talk to Helen and get to know the kids, Helen separated the kids in different groups as they were sitting on their small tables. I saw each of them with a small bowl with water, grains or corn inside. I was asking: “are they baking or preparing anything?” But the answer was no, this was just a simple method of calming them down and teaching them how to focus by giving them the task to transfer those ingredients from one bowl to another. After that I truly understood what it means to Helen to find ways to cost-efficiently entertain the kids day by day.

Helen truly inspired me, she is such a strong, powerful, smart, and warm-hearted woman - trying to give some education and love to children who mostly have the worst start that you can imagine.
A lot of the kids have been taken away from their mothers, there is a lot of violence, alcohol, and drug abuse in the whole community, which is obviously affecting the little ones from day one. No need to say that usually at home there is no space at all for any form of education.
Helen is doing such a great job to provide basic education for all of the children, so they can at least get a chance to survive in school. With the most basic tools, she is getting super creative and teaching the children great skills and even more importantly great values. It was so beautiful to observe how loving and caring the children are with each other.

I know that there is so much help needed everywhere in this world and it’s not possible to support all the great projects that are out there. But if you feel like supporting this incredible woman on her mission towards more educational equality and want to support those children who never had a chance.
Here is the fundraising page for little footsteps: https://www.betterplace.me/little-footsteps
The goal is to one day move the kindergarten outside of Helen’s living room, but what is currently needed the most are mattresses for the children to nap on, educational materials and food to maintain the daily care of the children.

After one week of volunteering time off, I can truly say that I am proud to work for a company that values social responsibility and encourages its employees to give back to the community. Bluplanet's support of my volunteering efforts has not only made a difference in the lives of those I was able to help, but it has also made a difference in my own life. It has given me a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment, expanded my horizons and has made me appreciate the importance of giving back even more.

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