Volunteering to teach abroad is a wholehearted experience. You can’t give a partial effort and you can’t give only a part of yourself. Volunteers that truly immersive themselves in these experiences via WorldTeach find that it’s REALLY hard to let go of what they can’t control. They give SO much, and in the end, they still have to go home. Take this ride with Britney Jarvis and hold on tight. You might not want to let go!

So the past couple of days here in South Africa have been incredibly emotional days for all of us. We have experienced some extreme highs and extreme lows. On Monday we went back to Masiphumelele in the afternoon and met with the people who run the Winter School, where some of the volunteers will be working. After that two young boys took us around the town to give us a real, more in depth tour of the township than we have received in the previous week. To say this tour took a toll on everyone would be a complete understatement. By the end of the tour our entire volunteer group was overwhelmingly emotional. (The term we used for the rest of the evening to describe ourselves was “emotionally wrecked”). The amount of absolute poverty in this area is beyond heartbreaking. These families literally have nothing. As volunteers, we have been so blessed to be living in this amazing home and safe neighborhood, and minutes away from us is just complete devastation.

However, there were some high points on this visit. As we were walking through town, the local children would literally just walk up to you and hold your hand. They did not care who we were or where we were from, they would just hold our hands and walk through the town with us. I had a small boy come and take my hand and take the tour with me. We walked through the township, hand-in-hand, for at least an hour. Afterwards we went back to the library and played with the children for quite some time. Looking around at this children laughing and playing with us, not even caring that we were complete strangers, was just heart warming. I would pick up my new friend and we would play “airplane” or “rocketship” and he would just let out this adorable, deep-belly laugh that I could physically feel in my heart. (He was also quite fond of my sunglasses and refused to take them off, if they weren’t my only pair I probably would have let him keep them)

In these moments where my heart was feeling so dark and literally aching for these people, here comes this small boy who takes my hand and changes my world. He reminded me that while we are here we won’t be able to do everything for these people, but we will be able to do something. Even if it is as small as just giving these children one good day- out of God knows how many bad ones- at least it is something. I’m always going to want to do more, but for now this is a start.

Want to read more from Britney, head to her blog at http://afrikaansadventures.blogspot.com/.