Unemployment is high in the Kingdom of Swaziland – the smallest country in the southern hemisphere and the only remaining African monarchy – with up to 50% of the population unable to find work. This can lead children towards boredom and anti-social behaviour, damaging their prospects at being able to support themselves in future.
Keeping children stimulated, focused and fit is the purpose of this children’s sport project in semi-rural Swaziland, and children also gain confidence and new skills through these organised sport and play activities. Volunteers at this project help arrange games and activities for small orphaned and vulnerable children, such as ball games and swimming lessons, and help coach sports such as football and volleyball to older children. Volunteers have the potential to impact people’s lives for decades to come at the Swaziland children’s sport project, by giving children the opportunity to learn skills, and gain confidence and healthy habits to take them into adulthood.
As a volunteer on this project, your day will start at around 9:00 when you’ll pack up the sports equipment you’ll need for the day and head over to a local community centre. Once there, you’ll organise activities for 3 to 6 year olds, which could include song and dance, ball games, obstacle courses, tricycle riding and swimming lessons. Some days you may even organise a sports day.
After lunch, you’ll head over to a local sports centre, where you’ll coach older children in a variety of sports, which could include football, netball, volleyball or tennis until around 17:00. You might also organise dedicated training sessions, mini competitions, sports tournaments or football leagues.
Every day is different and as a volunteer, you are encouraged to put your own stamp on your volunteering experience, sharing your own skills and sport interests with the children.
This is a naturally active volunteer project, where you’ll get a great workout every day, and leave the children in high spirits and with something to look forward to. You’ll get to know some of the children really well and will share their delight as they participate in sports and activities. As well as experiencing this touching link with Swaziland’s communities during the week, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the country further on your weekends off.
The Lubombo Conservancy is popular for game drives, as it is home to wildlife including lions, rhino, elephants and giraffes. The Ezulwini valley (‘Valley of Heaven’) has a number of adventure activities available to participate in, including white water rafting, mountain biking, quad biking, fishing, horse riding and hiking.
Sometimes weekend trips further afield are organised, to destinations such as the Kruger National Park, St Lucia, Natal Drakensberg or Mozambique.
You’ll be staying in a picturesque backpacker’s lodge, which is surrounded by gardens, in either a dorm room or safari-style tents. Food is provided and you’ll take it in turns to cook with the other volunteers, either in the kitchen or on the braai (barbecue) and relaxed evenings are spent on the veranda by the fireplace.