The AVIVA Experience

On Wednesday, I noticed a Zebra on the back of a Tall Horse Giraffe and I heard him sadly comment on the proverbial hump in the week. That damn Camel always gets in the way and sometimes it can prove to be a rather large hurdle to get over.zebra giraffe

But here it is … Friday in all her glory and I am sure everyone is looking forward to two days of pleasure. Not that work is not a pleasure …. it just means there will be 2 days of no admin. Today my brain feels as if it has been fried after an admin-intensive week.

Now let’s get some blogging done!

I have noticed the trend for taking a gap year or taking time off from Uni to enjoy the experience of volunteering is on the increase, with many a new Volunteering Organisation/Agency opening. That is why AVIVA has begun to make many new changes to enhance our volunteer experience. If you visit our website regularly, you will notice some obvious changes and some subtle changes. We also believe that no one can recommend a South African project more than a South African based volunteering organisation. We have the experience, the knowledge and know the lay of the land.

So why choose AVIVA Volunteers over other volunteering organisations in South Africa? Well, why not? Firstly, we are based in Cape Town which is the hippest, coolest, artsy, vibey City in the entire South Africa, and have projects all over South Africa which gives you the opportunity to enjoy the best volunteering experience. And secondly we are the longest running volunteering organisation. And for good measure, let me throw in a 3rd great reason …. we are based in South Africa and have a strong relationship with all our projects.

Cape Town does certainly buzz with energy, has incredible activities for you to enjoy when you are not working on your project and within easy reach of the city, you are able to go on a Safari. Hence we recommend you include a Cape Town week if you are volunteering on projects out of the Cape Town area. We highly recommend you do not come to South Africa for less than 2 weeks as you will be so disappointed at the opportunities you would miss by leaving too early. We do however understand that sometimes 2 weeks is all you have and rather 2 weeks than nothing at all, right?

In Cape Town you will live like a local, travel like a local and become accustomed to the local ways by staying at our AVIVA Volunteer House. Everyone in the house is like-minded – wanting to do something good, wanting to make a difference, ready to have a great time – see and do as much as they can and meet new friends from all over the world. It is not like a backpacker where your roomies will be there for different reasons and each day when you arrive back “home”, someone new has moved in and you have to make friends all over again! Our Volunteer House is a home. It is your home away from home where you can kick off your shoes and relax, or nag your fellow volunteers until they give in to your request for them to join you for dinner on the beach front. And we have a dog.

Now view the largest picture ever taken (over 200,000 pixels) – click here.

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I rest my case!  So what are you waiting for? giraffe

Have an awesome weekend everyone …..

 

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Where has time gone?

I cannot believe it has been a month since my last post.  To say work has been hectic, would be an understatement and a violation of my human rights to any form of slavery.  So I would have to say that I took a mental health month due to my sense of humour having gone AWOL and my computer catching a horrid bug which kept on popping up Ad’s all over the place. The rotten miscreants who have nothing better to do than violating my peace of mind.

Autumn has snuck in quietly in Cape Town with the most gorgeous hot, balmy, windless days.  So far we have had better weather at the start of autumn than we had during the entire summer months.  Even Ace, the Volunteer Dog, has agreed with my sentiments.

IMG_20150330_182750 And there is nothing he likes best than his romp on the beach followed by a small tub of ice cream.  Oh it is sure a dog’s life.

What has been keeping me a lot busier than usual is the mere fact I am updating and adding to our new Fundraising Document including the DVD which will go a long way in assisting you to raise funds for your trip and your project.  It should be finished shortly. Go me!  Included will be worth-your-while tours and trips you should consider doing especially seeing as you are coming all the way out to the southern tip of the African continent.  It will give you an added incentive to fundraise more and/or wake up the travel senses of your school or uni friends to join you.  I will also be giving you great Combo-Deals to experience the most of your adventure as possible.

Weekend is about to start and since starting this post, a thick mist has rolled in off the sea. If this is indicative of the weather for the weekend, I will be chillaxing on my bed in case you want to find me.

The Heat is On

This summer has been a blustery one and as we move into Autumn the temperature has risen to a staggering 40 degrees celsius in Table View and even higher elsewhere on the Peninsula. I don’t think those working in airconditioned offices are complaining, but wait.until.you.get.home.peeps – you won’t be able to sleep a wink tonight.

I am not sure whether the fire is contributing to this unusual heatwave but I can tell you one thing for absolute certain, the volunteers in the AVIVA Volunteer House will be swimming non-stop when they get home from their projects.  Me?  I will run under the sprinkler when I get home.

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A big shout out however, must go to all our firefighters and volunteer firefighter who are risking severe dehydration and skin blisters from the heat of the fire which started on Sunday in Muizenberg and spread over the mountain towards Noordhoek and Hout Bay.  And let us not forget the lack of sleep.  I am sure they must be so exhausted that seeing a grown man cry due to tiredness, would simply melt your heart.  Mention has to go out to all the pilots both civil and military who have been collecting buckets and buckets of water to douse the flames.  All these guys are living on the edge and trying desperately to save our mountain and the poor critters who live there. I am sad for all those animals whether it be a tortoise, a porcupine, snakes, buck, baboons and baby birds in nests and squirrels and rabbits and field mouse ….. who were not able to get away from the approaching savage fire.

Say a prayer for them and that our mountain covers up her scars quickly.

It’s Weekend Baby!

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Indulge me for a moment as in all honesty, it is Friday and my brain is shouting “It is Weekend Baby” and here I am trying to put together a post.  Tempting this stringing-of-words-to-form-sentences stuff on a Friday morning is something which needs major mojo. Clearly I do not have it.

Imagine what creative posts I would write if I was sitting on the beachfront, Marguerita in front of me, stunning view of Table Bay with the mountain photo-bombing every photograph I take?  My grey matter seems to turn to sludge at about 3.30pm and though I have missive after missive of rough drafts, they were good at the time of writing and now appear to be somewhat “eh”.  That, and the timing is not yet right.

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Anyhoo, here are 10 fun facts you may or may not know about Cape Town:

  1. Named after the classic comedy about a Jamaican bobsled team, Cool Runnings (http://www.cool-runnings.co.za/) just 20 minutes from the city centre is the only place on the African continent where you can find a tobogganing track.
  2. You can get married on Table Mountain and, in fact, on average two couples get married on top of the mountain every month! And, you can spend the night on Table Mountain in a lovely cozy cottage.
  3. “The Cape of Good Hope” was originally called the “Cape of Storms” by Bartholomeu Dias after he had to endure terrible storms on his way to the East coast of the Cape. He only changed it to the name we are familiar with now to appease the then king of Portugal.
  4. Although the youngest language in the world, Afrikaans is the most widely spoken home language in the Western Cape – about 40% of the population speaks it. Rest of the population’s home language is either English or Xhosa.
  5. Cape Town has the highest number of homes valued at more than R20 million in South Africa! The most sought after property is in Camps Bay, where there are 155 homes valued at over R20 million.
  6. Adderley Street’s road was originally made out of wooden tiles before being tarred over, in fact, you can see the wooden blocks for yourself at the Cultural History Museum in Cape Town.
  7. There’s a river that flows through Cape Town. It’s called the Fresh River and it comes off the slopes of Table Mountain, through the Company Gardens, and then travels underneath Adderley Street to the Waagenaar reservoir underneath Golden Acre.
  8. The oldest living tradition is Cape Town, the Noon Day Gun is fired at exactly 12 pm every day (except on Sundays) at Lion Battery on Signal Hill. The two Noon Guns are also the oldest cannons still in daily use.
  9. On 11 February 1990 on the balcony of Cape Town’s City Hall, Nelson Mandela made his first public speech since being released from prison.
  10. Cape Town celebrates Tweede Nuwe Jaar (Second New Year) with a parade and dancing Kaapse Klopse minstrels. This tradition originates almost 200 years ago when Cape Malay slaves celebrated the New Year on the only leave day they were allowed, 02 January.

Clearly, Cape Town has many surprises for the traveller, the adverturer, the explorer.  Are you one of those who would love to explore every nook and cranny of this beautiful City?

Till next time, peeps, have a wonderfully awesome weekend.

The Who, The Why and The How

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The grey matter certainly was not doing its job when I decided that enough time had gone by and the blogging had to begin, come hell or high water.  Preferably neither hell or high water as I am the sun and calm water type of gal.

So I said to myself “Self, you need to start at the beginning and let is flow”.

Before I get carried away and you think I am rude, let me introduce myself.  My name is Michelle and I started out as the Social Media Manager for AVIVA Volunteers.  I am the new kid on the block and really enjoyed my fancy title and the chance to interact with the volunteers and check out the projects and do the odd tour and excursion with the Volunteer. We have a great team – some on the forefront and some in the background whom you may get to meet or may not, but everyone is 100% utterly and totally dedicated to making your volunteering experience, one to remember.  And don’t take my word for it, you just need to listen or read up on our testimonials which are heart-felt comments of the experiences of volunteers who have come and gone and come back again.  (Just saying, the gun we held to their head was not loaded at the time of their giving us their testimonials.  Just needed to make that clear).

AVIVA started operating in 2001 and became fully operational in 2002.  We have a very well run, beautifully furnished Volunteer House in Table View, Cape Town which is totally dedicated to the Volunteers. This is the responsibility of Megan our wonderful Volunteer Coordinator (more about her later) who mothers everyone all the time. In fact, when Volunteers return to South Africa for a holiday, they always contact us to find out if we have room for them.  They like it and Megan, THAT much.

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It is difficult when you are sitting on the other side of the globe Googling or Yahooing or Facebooking to find an organisation whom you can trust.  There are so many out there.  Much more than when we first started out way back when.  When we started we were one of the first in South Africa and then voluntourism became a huge hit and soon others followed suit and wham bam, you now have a choice so vast that it makes your head spin.  Fear not.  We are legit.  Here are some facts about AVIVA we cannot hide from and which gives you an indication, if not a guarantee, that we will not take your money and head off on some safari, only to leave you stranded at the airport.  That is not us.  That is not the AVIVA way.

  • We are an official member of Cape Town Tourism and have been since 2003.
  • We are registered with the South African Tourism organisation.
  • AVIVA is a full member of SAYTC (South African Youth Travel Confederation).
  • We are registered as a Gold Corporate member of the Volunteer Centre which is affiliated to the International Association of Volunteer Effort (IAVE) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV).

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Those accreditations alone, should give you a warm fuzzy feeling but, if not, you can be rest assured of the following:

  • What we say on our website is true.
  • The testimonials on our You Tube channel are genuine.
  • When you book you are able to connect with past and present volunteers and talk to them directly about their volunteering experience or to make friends with them before you arrive at the Volunteer House.
  • Your safety is our No. 1 priority.
  • Your enjoyment and the enjoyment of your project and of our country is tied in first place with your safety.
  • We provide you with in-country support and look after you from the time you arrive until you leave.

That is AVIVA Volunteers in a nutshell.  Volunteering in South Africa with AVIVA is the one option when you are wanting to experience a holiday, another country and volunteering with peace of mind.

Hello world!

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If you were able to see me now, I would not blame you for thinking I was acting like a kid on Christmas morning.  When joining a couple of months ago, I was told one of my job functions would be blogging.  And how I love to blog when I have the time and now to do it as part of my job, well, I was in 7th heaven.

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Then there was a delay.  And the delay was delayed and then that was delayed.  So I decided that I would start an interim blog to get the brain matter working creatively.

Then I had a brain freeze (which I put down to the temperature in the office being at 18 celsius and I was cold).  That is my story and I am sticking to it.