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Valley of a 1000 Hills

Through skateboarding, this social volunteering project brings together people from diverse backgrounds. Skateboarding gives rural and vulnerable youths self-esteem and pride. It keeps them off the streets and out of trouble and brings them a sense of freedom, possibility and purpose.

Valley of a 1000 Hills

Overview:

Location Isithumba Village (closest city: Durban, 50km away), South Africa
Duration From 2 - 12 weeks
Dates All year round
Requirements
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: You need a love for children and you should display sensitivity and empathy. You should like skateboarding
Minimum Age: 17
Your impact
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance, police clearance certificate
Day of arrival Monday
Day of departure Monday

Highlights

  • Work and live in a warm, welcoming Zulu village.
  • Learn how to skate / improve your skills along with the participants, guided by resident professional skaters.
  • Be instrumental in creating inclusion through skateboarding as an activity that bonds us.
  • Assist with after-school art programmes which encourage creativity and self-expression in local youths.
  • Experience the Zulu culture and traditions first hand.
  • Work with the local youth leaders who were previously programme participants and now share skateboarding with the next generation.
  • Take part in excursions outside of the project on weekends: hikes, surf trips, safaris, etc.
  • Explore the natural surrounds as the project is situated on the edge of a forest and on the banks of a majestic river.
  • Observe nature in its purest form and tune into the peaceful surroundings.
  • Make new friends from all over the world.

Project Information

In 2001, a group of professional skateboarders established a skate park in a rural Zulu village in an attempt to include rural youths in the sport. Since day one, the intention was to bring diverse people together to connect through the power of sport. As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Sport has the power to change the world”.

The project’s presence was instantly embraced by the local community and the local chief gave land in kind for this ambitious nation-building facility. The focus on development soon shifted from skateboarding to upskilling young leaders within the community who run the project’s award-winning after-school programmes. They have created a safe space, exclusively for the youth of the village, in an attempt to provide a healthy, inspiring and engaging environment. Their experienced staff enjoy sharing knowledge of wellbeing, nutrition and fitness during engaging sessions. The clubhouse has a library where they encourage reading, storytelling and theatre. They have recently installed a computer lab where they teach computer literacy and social media basics. Other areas of focus and skills transfer are in fine arts, film and photography. The project’s biggest focus is on developing communication skills, specifically spoken English.

The project has welcomed thousands of youth to their facility. Tony Hawk has visited them twice and he too echoed the words of our late Madiba when he said that our project is proof that skateboarding can change the world.

Rural communities in South Africa are plagued by boredom - the skate park is an inspiring antidote as it engages the youth in its growth, development and maintenance. This world-class facility has been built by community members themselves and there is a great sense of pride in their achievements.

Your Role

The morning starts with general maintenance and grounds keeping. Plants/gardens need watering and care and preparation for the afternoon’s programme takes place. If there is any building or maintenance going on, you are expected to help. This could involve sourcing local materials on trips to the river bed to collect sand/stone/natural resources or it may simply be sweeping the floor of the skate ramps. Lunch is from 12.30 until the programme starts at 14.00.

Skating with the kids will be in the afternoon - from 14.00 to 18.00 you will be involved in the daily after school sessions where you will be able to engage with the local skaters and join in the activities in the skate park/clubhouse/computer learning centre. With approximately 50 youths attending the daily programmes, you may assist on an individual level with youths or assist the project team with facilitating group activities.

Other activities beyond skateboarding that you may be involved:

  • Art and craft workshops
  • Music and dance
  • Fitness and stretching (yoga)
  • Photography and videography
  • Computer literacy skills
  • Recycling education and sustainable practices; they have the only recycling station within a 10km radius

You help with the daily programme until the kids leave at 18.00; thereafter, you take turns to cook, clean and make the camp fire.

The work varies according to camp projects running, i.e. building, landscaping, gardening, etc. The project coordinators like to utilise your strong points, so you will also be given personal projects to complete.

Other possible activities might be sweeping, raking, gardening, litter clean-ups, cleaning, painting, building furniture, cooking, childcare.

The project runs from Monday to Friday (every day after school). Saturdays and Sundays are open park days.

It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the volunteer, the time of year and the work that needs to be done. The final job description can therefore vary substantially from the above.

This project can be emotionally draining. It is important that you are aware of this before applying for this project. We will assist you during your stay to make sure that you are coping with the experience, but you need to be mentally prepared to be open to the challenge as this project is quite isolated from city life.

Accommodation

Your accommodation is within walking distance of the project and can accommodate up to 15 volunteers. You are accommodated in dorm-style or twin rooms with a shared bathroom. There will be a maximum of 5 volunteers in one room – men and women separated. The accommodation offers a lounge, a kitchen, a skate ramp, a skate pool, etc. Bedding will be provided. Towels are not provided so you must bring your own. Laundry can be done by hand or for R50 per load in the washing machine. There is a cell phone available – you pay per call.

Testimonials

Catharina from Germany

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"Volunteering for this project has been one of the most life-changing experiences of my life. Living in the Isithumba Village, working with the kids and getting to know the Zulu culture was not only fun but it also gave me a new perspective looking at my life at home. If you like working with kids, enjoy the beauty of nature and want to experience something completely different from home, I can only recommend this project to you!"