Welcome, Summer.

We have come to the end of our busy period, here at MozVol HQ. Volunteers have been subjected to torrential rainfall, high winds and hale storms reminiscent of snowfall in the northern hemisphere. However, summer is now here, and we are enjoying long, lazy summer days, weekends at the beach with the children from the children’s centre, and breezy boat trips down the estuary hippo and croc-spotting and monitoring.

We are looking forward to starting the reno at the children’s home (orphanage) – over the next couple of weeks we will be replacing broken windows, painting, fixing play equipment, decorating and redoing the kitchen facilities and replacing exterior doors to ensure the safety of the children at all time.

The creche facilities are going from strength to strength, and we are starting to develop the new syllabus for the 2013 academic year, starting in January.

With these two activities in mind, we are keen to have career break-ers join us in the forthcoming months. We are particularly looking for teachers, builders, healthcare workers and others with practical skills.

We are going to be making an effort to market our projects to family groups, in a bid to provide ethical family holidays to our beautiful part of the world, and selling the concept of a ‘mature gap year’, for when the daily grind of office work gets a bit much and you just need to get away… why not take an extended holiday and use your skills to the sustainable benefit of others less fortunate than yourself?

Participants in our conservation project has had a 100% success level over 2012, with all participants sitting the THETA examination passing with flying colours. Conservation volunteers have particularly enjoyed learning wildlife spotting techniques in the Big 5 reserve Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, and taking plaster of Paris imprints of wild animal spoor through the reserves to help with spoor recognition and learning animal behaviour.

Watch this space for our annual sports projects coming up in May and August 2013 and join our community care project (South Africa) for either 3 or 4 weeks in December 2012 and January 2013 through One World 365 and receive a 25% discount.

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Career Breaks

Who thinks of taking a career break?

Bean and I have been thinking recently about the kind of people who work in “City” jobs. I did my first degree at the University of Durham in the UK, whilst I was there, large, corporate companies appeared to use it as a recruitment ground: I lose count of the amount of invitations to “Champagne and Canapes with PriceWaterHouseCoopers” or “Dinner and Dancing at Deloitte’s Pleasure” invitations I received in my college pigeon hole. It sounds slightly archaic, but that’s how it was.

Now, it appears that an organisation called Escape the City founded by two of my contemporaries from Durham is assisting my old class-mates who were lured in by the promises of smoked salmon blinis and a glass of free bubbly (understandable on a student budget.. especially after the prices charged by the Doxbridge 3) to “escape” from this corporate rat race, and heart-attack-at-35 inducing lifestyles that people seem to fall into, apparently, erroneously.

Getting back to the point. At risk of sounding rather smug *grins* I was never seduced by the promises of gold plated office chairs. I was, however, entirely lured into the travelling trap, resultant lack of cash, and fell into my current lifestyle (which, actually, I believe is infinitely preferably to an office job in London, cash aside). As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, we are planning on expanding the opportunities MozVolunteers offer. In addition to the usual student/young person gap year-focused project participation, we are opening up to the idea of family volunteering holidays, ethical house parties (coming up… watch this space!) and of course the afore mentioned *career break*.

We are in need of skilled professionals, to come and help us with more than the basics. The career break “package” would of course include the contact with communities, management of specific aspects of our organisation, such as website management, teaching opportunities for specialists, health promotion opportunities for health specialists, management, all within the beautiful setting of our organisation, St Lucia Estuary (hippos and all) Monzi (living in an over-enthused farmhouse for the duration of your stay is a price you may have to pay..!) and the Indian Ocean. This is an opportunity for these highly professional individuals who wish to experience life out of the office to come and explore their passions, learn, teach, live, be outdoors, farm, eat fresh fruit straight off the tree (sometimes even lands straight on your bed if you’re lucky), camp out under the stars, eat by a fire, braai, love fresh, local food, search and explore and relax. All whilst sharing these skills with us. We need them.

We can’t promise blinis (braai and poitje?), French champagne (JC Le Roux do? South Africa does have some phenominal reds though…visit ) smoked salmon (aha. Smoked snoek. Much better AND fresh from the boat), gold plated office chair (umm antique wooden leather affair) or limo transport (a ride on the back of a battered toyota bakkie will have to suffice). What we can promise is good food, great friendships, beautiful places, warm, clear water of the Indian Ocean and wonderful wine, helping, learning, teaching and experiencing.

Come on, have I persuaded you yet? Take a career break and join MozVolunteers email alex@movzolunteers.com and really come and experience what you’re missing.

Family volunteering holidays? what do you think.

Family holidays.  My memories include a rainy experience in a caravan near a beach somewhere in England, Bean on the other hand reminisces fondly of weeks on end spent basking in sunshine, sleeping in beach huts on Cape Vidal dunes and hours whiled away fishing and surfing, checking rock pools for interesting creatures and enjoying beach braais with brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents and parents.

In this age of ethical travel, and responsible tourism, surely we should start to consider an alternative to the typical high cost, highly unethical, overseas family holiday?

Family volunteering holidays may well be such an alternative…

We at MozVolunteers started offering volunteering as a family holiday experience a few years ago, and, whilst I have to admit we haven’t had quite the influx of punters we were initially hoping for, the five or so families who have taken up our all inclusive family volunteer packages have enjoyed the experience more than we could ever have expected or hoped for.

So, why bring your family to South Africa to volunteer, instead of searching on booking.com or lastminute.com for that late reservation hit of sunshine, sparkly pool with adjacent loungers and evening buffet meals?

We believe that family volunteering provides all you would want from a family holiday along with the added bonus of giving something back to the area that you so enjoy when you are there for a couple of weeks.

We affordably combine voluntary tasks, with tours and safaris, picnics and excursions to amenities in our area, all whilst staying in our comfortable family room in our volunteer house. We have the knowledge of the local area to provide you with up to date, sensible information about what to do in chill out time, where to go, where to avoid, and above all, what’s great to occupy the kids when you and the best beloved want some down time.  We provide you with choices for the different activities you can experience in our local area (of which there are many: snorkelling, scuba, surf lessons, BIG 5 safaris, parks, world heritage sites, cheetah conservation, rhino conservation, mozambique, scuba, swaziland, craft markets, beaches and many, many more) and give you the opportunity to sit back and relax, and enjoy the “all inclusive” nature of the package (i.e. all meals provided, a rest from the cooking!)

On a more serious note, volunteering as a family allows you to give something back, allows you to gain an enhanced understanding of the disadvantaged circumstances of others, and share the experience of this understanding and helping.  This is a rewarding opportunity to make life-long family friendships and care for others.  It means also that the kids are never short of others to play with, and is a contact for when little princess turns 18 and decides she wants a round the world ticket for her birthday in order to “find herself”.  Surely you would feel happier knowing first hand the kind of organisation she’s joining for 6 months?

So next time you browse through a holiday bookings website, take a quick moment and visit http://www.mozvolunteers.com – maybe you’ll take the opportunity to book this low cost option to South Africa, and experience what we really think is a holiday opportunity of a lifetime, a family vacation with a real difference.