In my experience, most South Africans love their country and are keen to give back in some way. if you look at the amount of money being donated to causes and the amount of work being done to help those who have some sort of need, it’s staggering how generous people are. Having said that, there are many more people that want to help but struggle to do so for various reasons:
- No money
- Finding a place to volunteer
- Finding a convenient time
- Getting there
- Concerns around safety
- Concerns about skills needed
I don’t know why someone didn’t think of this sooner, but there is now an organisation that solves all of these difficulties and makes volunteering easy. Better SA was founded by Roberta Donovan in Johannesburg in 2014 and has recently launched in Cape Town with the sponsorship of MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet. The Better SA mission statement is:
To make it as easy and rewarding as possible for South Africans to volunteer their time and skill.
Better SA will find an organisation that needs assistance from volunteers, they will organise all the tools and materials needed to assist and they will provide transport to and from the venue. All you have to do is book your spot on the bus via their website, and be at the meeting point on time. It could not be any easier. You’ll be with a group of fellow volunteers so you will feel safe and as a bonus, you’ll get to meet some nice people.
Better SA promises to:
- Always get back to you
- Do all the hard work so you don’t have to
- Manage NGO’s so you don’t have to
- Never ask you to do more than you are able to
- Never make you jump through hoops
- Make the most of the time you give
- Never waste your time
- Ensure you have fun while making a difference
Interestingly, as much as this makes life easy for volunteers, it actually makes life much easier for the charity organisations too. Managing a volunteer programme is resource intensive and many organisations find that it’s actually easier for them to just not have volunteers. With Better SA the organisation can contact them and give a list of what they need help with and Better SA will arrange everything.
Each experience starts with an clear and concise briefing at the centrally located meeting point. This provides detailed information about the organisation and the community they will visit, allows for questions and gives the volunteers a chance to meet each other. All resources needed to complete the volunteer activity are provided. Volunteer activities range from playing educational games with children to visiting the elderly; participating in community clean-ups to painting facilities; teaching computer skills to typing up CV’s. New beneficiary organisations and volunteer opportunities are added to the Better SA event calendar on a regular basis to encourage people to become serial volunteers.
I was recently invited to experience volunteering made easy by jumping on the Better SA bus and heading out to Siyazingisa primary school in Gugulethu. Our project was to revamp the library. Tasks involved painting and sorting books into categories. I am terrible at painting, but categorising things is something I love to do. I spent a couple of hours sorting the books that had been donated and filling up the shelves. It was great to see the difference from when we walked in to when we were finished. I know those pupils are going to love their library!
Everything was well organised, all paints and brushes, etc were provided and we were given clear instructions on what needed to be done. We had fun chatting and getting to know each other while went about our tasks. When we were done, the principal of the school came to see what we had done and she was very impressed and grateful. It was such a rewarding experience, it felt great to make a difference in just a few hours.
If you would like to jump on the Better SA bus and do some volunteering, simply go to BetterSA.org and book your seat for a date that suits you.
Better SA is also a beneficiary of the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme and your support of their organisation can help them to expand their service to other parts of the country. Go to http://www.myschool.co.za/ to apply for your free MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card, and select Better SA as your beneficiary. Every time you swipe your card at Woolworths, Engen, Loot.co.za or any other partner store, the participating retailers will donate a percentage of your purchase value, on your behalf, to the beneficiaries you have chosen to support – at absolutely no cost to you!
Check out this video for an insight into a typical Better SA activity…