Classic Heroes: Chloe
Classic Heroes: Chloe
At Classic Holidays, we celebrate our everyday heroes – those who selflessly give their time to volunteer for those in need. Through the introduction of Classic Heroes, we’ve been able to share these inspiring stories with our member community, and encourage others to give volunteering a go and see what enormous benefits it brings. Volunteering is a great way to not only see the world, but to see it in a different light.
Recently, our Classic Holidays Accounts Officer, Chloe, spent a month in Africa volunteering at an orphanage in Tanzania and an Animal Conservation in South Africa, learning what it truly means to be a Classic Hero.
1. What was your volunteering experience in Africa?
I first flew to Tanzania where I was a volunteer in an orphanage with 23 kids ranging in age from 2 to 7 years old. These kids had either lost one or both parents to HIV, road accidents or other diseases, some lived in the area but with their grandparents and couldn’t afford schooling and some of the kids had been abandon at the orphanage because they had HIV themselves. At the orphanage I would be greeted with little hugs and a good morning song. We would teach them simple Maths and English – letters and numbers, and then go outside to play where the boys played with a plastic bag with duct tape wrapped to make a ball and the girls would chase each other around and play with my hair until I had dreadlocks. It was sad to have to say goodbye to them when the time came to move on to the next project of my stay.
I then travelled to Johannesburg in South Africa to volunteer in an Animal Conservation for one week before returning home. The Conservation had a range of animals like lions, cheetahs, tigers, hyenas, elephants, horses, wild zebras, hippos and giraffes that would roam around the camp site. It was hard work. We would wake up before light and shovel elephant poo, clean out the horse stables, build fences and weed fields by hand – I was always sore dirty and had cuts bruises all over me. However it was so rewarding because the majority of these animals had been rescued from the black market, or movie sets that no longer needed the animals, or they had been mistreated at other farms.
During this time I also spent four days on a safari camping in the Serengeti National Park – this was a dream come true for me after watching the Lion King as a little girl way too many times. I got to see the Big 5 throughout the four days and seeing these animals in real life in the wild was absolutely amazing. Put this on your bucket list!
2. Was this your first time volunteering?
Yes, this was my first time volunteering, but definitely not my last. I absolutely loved my time in Africa and reflect on it most days. It was an experience of a lifetime and it really is a such a beautiful country.
3. Did the experience change your life? If so, in what way?
It was a physically and emotionally draining experience but it changed my life in more ways than one. While I was there to teach them, the kids at the orphanage actually taught me to be happy with the simplest things in life; that no matter how bad your day, week or year has been, it’s all made better with a smile on your face and to show love unconditionally to everyone.
It challenged me to get outside of my comfort zone. I really had no choice but to embrace how the African people live every day of their lives. In the month that I was there I didn’t have a hot shower once. I ate rice and beans most days and Wifi or TV access was every other day if at all because some days we wouldn’t have power to have these luxuries.
It made me appreciate the life I have and how lucky I am; that I don’t have to think twice about the water that I drink or the food that I eat. It made me have a very different outlook on the way that I go forward and live my life and not to take anything I have for granted.
4. Volunteering is a great way to do something good and see the world. Would you encourage others to do it?
Definitely. I would encourage anyone that wants to see the world – especially in a different light – and challenge themselves to get outside their comfort zone. It’s not always easy but it is so rewarding.
5. If you could go anywhere in the world to volunteer, where would it be?
I would love to volunteer in South America or Bali and I will definitely be going back to Africa.