One of CHOSA’s most beloved projects is the After-School Volunteer Program at Emasithandane Children’s Home in Nyanga, and Baphumulele Children’s Home in Khayelitsha – it is, after all, how CHOSA first began! Each semester brings a new wave of American exchange students and local volunteers, who visit the children’s homes twice a week to provide academic programming and support catered to each of the various grade levels. Our most recent semester wrapped up in May, and proved to be unforgettable for both our children and our volunteers.

At the beginning of the semester, the CHOSA team learned at their planning meetings with the staff of Emasithandane and Baphumulele that the greatest needs of the kids had been identified as basic math and English skills. Focusing on these subjects, while adding their own creative flair by drawing from their own interests and passions, the volunteers engaged the children in fun, unique lesson plans to supplement what they’d been learning in school.

At the end of the semester, each team of volunteers raised funds and planned an end-of-year outing for their students. Kids, volunteers, and chaperones alike enjoyed their time at Monkey Town Primate Centre, Robben Island, and other popular educational destinations.

Volunteers also participated in the traditional end-of-semester tour, which is an opportunity to learn about other CHOSA projects, including the other children’s homes at which some of their fellow study-abroad students have been tutoring. This semester’s tour also included a visit to a local school, where the volunteers were able to engage a teacher on some of the challenges of teaching in Cape Town’s impoverished areas. Everyone walked away with a deeper understanding of the South African school system and the difficulties faced by the children we serve. A final dinner for volunteers gave them the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and celebrate a successful semester. Our dedicated volunteers returned to the U.S. touched by their experience, and inspired to remain involved with CHOSA. And we can’t wait to meet up with them back in the States!