Adventure of A Lifetime – Kamila’s Gap Year in Bulembu
Have you ever considered visiting Bulembu to serve as a short term volunteer? Wondered what it would be like to have a gap year in Eswatini, or a taste of volunteer work with orphaned and vulnerable children and young people? Kamila Doerfler from Germany did just that and it’s an experience she’ll reap the benefits of for the rest of her life. Here at Bulembu Blog we caught up with Kamila after her year was completed to hear her reflections:
BB: Hello Kamila, tell us, was this trip your first time in Africa?
KD: Yes it was, when I arrived in October 2017 with fellow volunteer Jula, also from Germany, I was 18 and I’d never been to Eswatini.
BB: Wow great, so can you tell us how you chose Bulembu, how did you hear about us?
KD: Before I heard about Bulembu I knew I wanted to do a voluntary year abroad. I was open for many places and then I unexpectedly heard from a Ranger and friend of Akki El-Kaakour about the Royal Rangers in Eswatini. So I got very interested and excited after hearing they were looking for volunteers, especially in the youth and church department. Then I phoned Akki and soon knew I wanted to go there!
BB: Brilliant. How long was your stay and what was the purpose of your stay?
KD: I was in Bulembu for 10 months for an International Youth Volunteer Service through Velberter Mission and Global Volunteer Services, and my placement was church, youth and rangers with BMS.
BB: What things surprised you when you arrived? Can you share what you found most different and interesting about the place and culture?
KD: When we left the Piggs Peak road behind, Bulembu felt like a peaceful, hidden and small town. But Bulembu was bigger than I thought, I was challenged to learn all the people and their names and I was positively amazed by the facilities. (instruments, Ranger Building, church etc) It took a while for me to understand the Rangers system but Akki was a patient explainer! And it was new for me to live in a community where everyone knows each other and where the whole town goes to church.
BB: Do you have any tips or advice for first time visitors to Eswatini?
KD: Bring some warm clothes! It can be cold in Bulembu! Consider using extra luggage space to bring donations or even things for staff that they might miss from your country. Enjoy the time and get to know the people more!
BB: Tell us about your weekly routine- what were some of your main activities?
KD: On a normal week there was cleaning day, Senior Youth Day, Sunday church with cafe or Junior Youth and Royal Rangers. For worship Jula and I sometimes helped with sound or piano and after some time did drama and dance club at senior youth. Often there was another project so it never got boring and I could experience many different things.
BB: Awesome. Can you tell us a bit about who you volunteered under, your leaders?
KD: My main leaders were Alli and Akki who work in Senior Youth, Rangers and church. When we came to Bulembu, Alli had just had her second daughter and some months later they already took both girls on the camps! It is a very warm-hearted and strong family and I am thankful for everything!
BB: Can you tell us a couple of your top highlights overall?
KD: I think the biggest highlight for me was to live and work with other volunteers together- from Germany, America, Canada, South Africa and of course the three interns from Bulembu! But of course many other people made the time so valuable and they inspire me a lot! Other highlights were the many events, camps, trips, worship times, projects… and even more!
BB: Did you have trips outside Bulembu that you’d like to mention?
KD: The day trips in Bulembu/Eswatini were a highlight because I experienced the beautiful nature outside our door and had a great time with others! We climbed some mountains, saw the sunrise, followed a river, found many waterfalls, jumped off cliffs, visited Swazi traditional places and so on. I went with volunteers to Kruger Park in South Africa where we saw many amazing wild animals and did a South Africa tour where we drove through landscapes to the coast and the Drakensbergs. We really enjoyed the time, nature and activities, though it was so fast through so many places and I was glad to return home to Bulembu after such a big trip!
BB: Would you recommend a volunteer adventure like this to others?
KD: Yebo! (Yes!) Being in Bulembu is a great experience for anyone, you can learn a lot and you will be part of a big family!
Thank you for reading, if you’d like to look into volunteering in Bulembu for a short or long term stay, please visit our volunteer pages here at www.bulembu.org/visit-and-serve and get in touch!