Win a free volunteer placement in South Africa – The Shortlist

Thank you to all the hundreds of people who entered our Kaya competition to win a free volunteer placement in South Africa! We have been overwhelmed by all the entries and moved by the beautiful responses you provided to the question “ I’d like to volunteer abroad in 2019 because…”
We are really struggling to pick a winner – so we have made a shortlist of our top 10 entries and will choose the ultimate traveller on Monday.

Our Top 10

Check out what our top 10 finalists had to say:

Janet, from the USA
“Thank you for the opportunity to enter this contest. I’ve recently retired from a career in which I’ve advocated for abused and neglected children. I’ve seen some of the most heinous atrocities inflicted upon our most vulnerable citizens — things that would scar the heart and soul of many. But my own childhood experiences led me to this work and I found myself unable to sit idly by and do nothing. How could I NOT continue to do this work? Hundreds of children have been served under my watch and while not all case outcomes have been ideal, I can assure you that the passion and empathy behind this work has been genuine and life-changing. I’ve always felt a bit selfish in that as challenging and heart-wrenching as this work can be, I’ve become a better person because of it. My work has been primarily in two states in America and now that I’m retired and with still so much yet to give, I’m stepping away from the child abuse arena and would like to continue serving others in meaningful ways. My first trip abroad was to Europe for a month last fall and my eyes were opened wide to the realities of living conditions, basic needs resources, medicine, education, and more. My heart still has a lot yet to give to others and volunteering with your organization will allow me to continue doing so while having an opportunity to experience first-hand the day-to-day struggles of children and families around the world. I can think of no greater way to continue serving others. Thank you again for this opportunity.”

Bethany, from the UK
“My name is Bethany. I am 25 years old and I am a qualified Paediatric Speech and Language Therapist who is passionate about helping and improving the lives of others. I strongly believe my sense of humour and friendly nature would adhere to the Kaya Project values. As my job is in the health profession, I understand and have the skills needed to support those most vulnerable in our community. I am also mixed race (Irish / Ghanaian) and though this project will not be in Ghana I am strongly interested in visiting the continent of Africa. If you are looking for a friendly, passionate, caring lady to join the Kaya team for 2 weeks, I can guarantee that I will bring everything I have to do so. Thank you ever so much.”

Anna, from the UK
“To be able to give something back to a community that deserves it. My best friend (who lives in Denver, USA) and I have been looking at these programs and have been very interested, but money has been an issue for us to meet up. With this, we could both attend during the year and share a phenomenal experience as money wouldn’t be an issue. ( I understand this is only for one person) On top of this, these experiences will help us both with applying to further education (uni) with something unique to talk about. We both care about the world and it’s people, we are outgoing, caring and helpful, and would love to have these memories that last a lifetime that also have a positive impact on others. Thank you for a wonderful opportunity!”

Ellie, from the UK
“Firstly, a massive congratulations on your 10 year anniversary. What an amazing achievement! I’d like to volunteer abroad in 2019 because I have just finished my psychology degree and would like the opportunity to practically apply the skills I have learnt. I have for a while been researching volunteering abroad and HIV volunteering has always stood out to me. I plan in the future doing a masters degree in health psychology and hopefully can become a fully qualified health psychologist specialising in sexual health. During my time at university I have volunteered as a wellbeing adviser at my university, so can be trusted to be professional when working with clients. As a condition HIV is manageable in western society, however, it should be that way across the world. Aids could be completely eradicated in our lifetimes with the continual dedication of community health volunteers and professionals. South Africa is a country that I have always wanted to visit. I have studied the country’s history in school and it would be an experience to physically see what I learnt about as a teenager. When my dad was a child his family took a trip to South Africa during the height of the apartheid. From hearing his stories I am curious to witness how much or little has changed. Community volunteering has always appealed to me because it creates bonds with people. From a picture on your website, you can see smiling natives; it really brings home to me what you will mean to South Africans, which is that volunteers bring hope that they didn’t know existed.”

Hiba, from the UK
“I am passionate about global health inequalities and am looking to dedicate myself to lessening these injustices. I would love the opportunity to help first hand with a community care project abroad whilst also having the chance to immerse myself in a new culture. Visiting South Africa has always been a dream of mine and I would much rather do it doing something where I can really help others. I have just finished university and am looking to spend a gap year getting involved in various voluntary projects including interning with the World Health Organisation next year.”

Molly, from the USA
“As a public health major and a Master of Public Health candidate, I have wanted to take part in a public health volunteer program for the past four years. I believe that this is the perfect opportunity for me to grow and learn, both personally and professionally. I have worked at a daycare centre and summer camp for seven years, and have been involved in HIV/AIDS research at the University of Georgia. I am currently interning at my local community health centre and am trying to become a home health aide. I have been looking for the perfect hands-on experience to teach me more about international public health, as my goal is to one day work abroad in impoverished communities to improve access to healthcare. Additionally, I was raised on the importance of compassion and was taught that compassion is best shown through selfless action. I have watched my mother dedicate her life to the people she works with. My mother was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, yet she continues to invest all of her time in the people she cares most about. Her compassion motivates me to do the same and is the reason why I want to volunteer in South Africa. Although I do have skills to offer, I know that the people I will work with and the community I will live among will teach me much more. I am eager for the opportunity to learn.”

Ashley, from the USA
“Since a very young age, I have loved being around children and babies. I have always had the dream to one day work with children, whether it was in the medical field or in education. So far in my life, I have had the opportunity to help children in my church, babysit on many occasions, work with an after-school program and summer camp for children pre-k to 5th grade. About two years ago while I was completing my bachelor’s degree with an English major, I did a semester in Italy and I think it was in that month spent there I realized I would love to teach children in a different country. It was the first time I had experienced living abroad and realized that is something I would love to do again. I have been working as a teachers assistant for about one year and it has become what I love to do every day. Spending time with children, either being in a more casual friendly way to play or by helping educationally has always brought great happiness to me. Working with children has been and will always be one of my favourite things to do.”

Drishti, from the UK
“I consider volunteer work to be the backbone of communities, and what you do directly supports and empowers society. For me, volunteering has provided a healthy boost to my self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. I feel like I’m doing good for others and the community, which gives me a natural sense of accomplishment and a positive view of my life and future goals. It has given me a number of valuable skills such as the ability to work under pressure. I have learnt to be flexible in attitude and approach to methods of work but also problem solve in the most critical of situations. I have great regard for the scheme’s dedication and provision to disadvantaged citizens in developing countries and I would really love the opportunity to work alongside a team. I was impressed with the programme’s commitment to creates active citizens who understand the power of community development and bringing about positive change in their environment. Volunteering in such an organisation is important to me – I’m am more effective, productive and feel content for the organisation I work for. Personally, I also believe working with other local volunteers as well as host families will be a valuable and extremely rewarding experience. I feel that I have a lot of passion and an endurance to handle challenges that come my way with sensitivity and a lot of understanding and therefore I think I will suit well in this role. I truly believe that the Kaya Programme has a lot to offer me, but also a place where my background, experience and skills can be developed and make things happen. I think my flexible and hardworking style would fit really well in this volunteering role and I feel like I can start delivering results quickly.”

Andrea, from Germany
“Responsible travelling has been the driving force in my life and there are several aspects of my personality and lifestyle that exemplify the virtues of a respectful traveller. To start with, two of my life´s main passions are teaching and travelling. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to combine them and live abroad for the past thirteen years as a language teacher! What’s more, I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy different types of travelling, mainly being responsible, long term ¨slow¨ travelling. For me, “respectful travelling” means cultural exchange, building friendships, making sustainable choices which promote a clean environment and local economies, and staying safe. It has been the pleasure of my life to appreciate, understand and respect cultures from the inside and not just as a tourist.
In addition, I’ve always had the urge, need, and inner desire to help others. This is the most important part of responsible travelling. I’m convinced that it’s time that we become active participants of a global community and not just simply passive spectators if we want the world to be a better place. My experience in the field of volunteering is limited but when I was living in my home country, Argentina, on many occasions, I provided books, toys and clothing to an orphanage called “Casa Cuna”. Also, I donated a percentage of my salary to support various NGOs (“Unicef”, “Intermón Oxfam”, “Càritas”, “Aina” and “l’Escola Especialitzada de Nostra Senyora de Meritxel”) for almost four years while living in Europe. Furthermore, I had the chance to volunteer with an NGO, “Hoy X Mañana” whose mission is to fight against malnutrition and child hunger in Argentina.
In 2017, I had one of the most outstanding experiences in my life and once again I was able to combine my passions: teaching, travelling, and even ‘volunteering’. Teaching English in Sudan was another 180º twist in my life because it was such a fascinating and diverse culture and completely different from what I had previously experienced. I was part of an organization called SVP (Sudan Volunteer Program) whose aim is to foster positive cross-cultural communication in a complex but captivating country that is greatly misunderstood globally. Despite the hard living, harsh climate, and meagre salary, both my students and myself were enriched by this powerful cultural and linguistic exchange.
My goal in life is to continue developing my professionalism and multiculturalism even more and to be able to inspire travellers, dreamers and future generations to do the same, specifically women from underprivileged environments. I believe that now, I’m ready for a new challenging experience in an exciting new country with Kaya. I expect to get a more ample view of the world, continue to open my mind, develop my cultural awareness; and finally to become a better global responsible traveller.”

Abraham, from Nigeria
“I would like to respond to the Volunteer Placement in South Africa which I saw while surfing through my email account in Team GoAbroad mail. This opportunity caught my attention, because I see a great deal of similarity between the job requirements and my experiences, making me an ideal candidate for the placement, with my major in Nutrition and Dietetics in the University as an added advantage. I am particularly interested in utilizing my skills and knowledge in a secondary setting. I grew up in one of the poorest parts of Enugu which is in the Southeast of Nigeria. I was brought up being exposed to poor eating habits and poor hygiene practices. During my high school, I developed an interest in health education and nutrition and it exposed me to the importance of eating the right and balanced meal as well as cultivating proper hygiene. Owing to the fact that I grew up with less exposure to healthy eating, I developed the burden to change that lifestyle and educate my family, neighbours and other families affected. Because of this passion of mine in nutrition and health, I went on to study Nutrition and Dietetics in college. After my graduation from college, I went for a compulsory one year program and had the privilege to serve in a rural region located in the northern part of Nigeria. There, I saw ignorance in full display pertaining to eating a balanced diet and maintaining proper hygiene as the villagers were living majorly on starchy and fatty foods believing they were eating ‘good food’. This led to their having several malnourished cases. I put my knowledge to action and intimated these villagers on the importance of eating the right food and not just ‘good food’ as well as showing them the dangers they were exposing themselves to as a result of their poor and malnourished diet. After this program, I felt the need to further and gain more experience in my field and fortunately when I saw the advert of the volunteering placement opportunity, I did not hesitate but immediately grabbed this opportunity to apply. I believe if you grant me this opportunity I would benefit enormously in knowledge and in skills and will be better equipped to help my people in Nigeria, especially those living in rural areas. I would further clarify my motivation in a personal conversation.”

Read more about our community health and home-based care or HIV/AIDS education and daycare projects that our winner will be joining. Which answer was your favourite? Let us know your input in the comments to help us make a decision!


  1. Tanya

    Janet is a fierce and faithful humanitarian and tireless champion of The underserved. All of your candidates sound like worthy people, and any choice will bring benefits to your program, but I know that Janet will bring the mission back to the US with enthusiasm, compassion, and eloquence. Thank you for your work.

    • Roberto

      Andrea es para mi la que merece esa oportunidad por su fuerza y convencimiento de hacer las cosas, con la meta de dejar en los demás, mucho de conocimiento y mucho mas del sentido de la vida (la integración de las diferentes culturas y la visión solidaria como principal herramienta para lograrlo)

  2. Karen Wherlock

    I have known Janet for nearly 45 years. I know her heart, soul, beliefs and actions to be in a place where she will value and add value to this experience. She’ll work her tail off and have fun doing it!

    • Sije Vargas

      If there is a person who I know that loves adventure is my friend Andrea. I know here for almost 8 months already and she is a person who never stops , and for real, she had live in so many countries. I believe her mentality and respect she transmits is due to her experience and because he has been in touch with so many cultures she is able to understand a lot of people. She speaks Spanish, English, Catalan. This volunteer can be for her just another more experience to grow mentally and spiritually.


    I’ve known Janet Stoddard for more than 50 years, from Elementary through High School. I high school she was captain of the drill team and I was drum captain in the band. She is a very dedicated individual, and a great team player.
    She has raised 2 daughters, mostly as a single Mom. Her professional career was dedicated to Children, as a children’s advocate. She will do you and your organization proud when you choose her to participate in you program.

  4. Barbara Chastain

    It’s funny how you can meet someone once and immediately form a bond of deep friendship. I met Janet from USA several years ago when she came to the volunteer training of the adaptive horseback riding program I lead. Her attentive listening, capable performance, joyful sense of humor and genuine compassion and grace were evident from Day 1. She has continued to brighten the lives of many, and her commitment to give her talents has carried through her employment and her volunteer work. It thrills me to see that she offers herself up to Kaya.

  5. Suchita

    Hiba is incredibly passionate about volunteering and giving back to the community. She has been actively involved with multiple charities over the years. Her dedication, empathy, kindness and hard work make her the perfect fit for this role.

  6. Elsa

    Andrea de Alemania es mi favorita!!!!

  7. Samuel

    It was a pleasure reading all the answers. I particularly like Andrea from Germany’s thoughtful response, especially in regards to “respectful travelling.” Her career so far seems to exemplify volunteerism and multiculturalism.

  8. Lorena Dreise

    I consider that Andrea’s big experience and skills make her an excellent candidate for this volunteering. She has always been actively envolved in charity works and can be easily immerse in a new community. What is more, she truly loves teaching, travelling and meeting other cultures. This amazing opportunity would give her the chance to grow and gain valuable cultural experience.

  9. Laura

    I think Janet from the USA writes as an incredible recipient who could give so much to the project. Her experience, dedication and background could be given the chance to shine in the volunteer environment. I wish her all the best and hope that she could bring her varied and unique skill set and passion to a project even if she were not the overall winner.

  10. Margarete Lindh

    You won’t go wrong choosing Janet Stoddard! She is an amazing woman with a huge heart! I highly recommend her!!

  11. Fran

    Janet USA.So beautiful to hear someone so accomplished before she retired and still wants to give back in retirement!KUDOS!

  12. Barbara Bay

    I will 100% recommend Janet from the USA. I have worked with her as a CASA volunteer and she has the biggest heart for children. She has given her life to this type of work and I know she will continue, with this organization or another. You would be blessed to have her in your organization!

  13. Vanessa

    Let’s go Andrea from Germany -originally Argentina-!
    I know her and I know her commitment with teaching and multiculturalism. She deserves the Volunteer Program because she made of this activities her way of living and contribute to a sustainable and better world by giving and enjoying risponsable culture! Go for it Andrea! Best wishes and thanks.

  14. Kamran S. Sehgal

    I believe Andrea Collados should win the placement.

  15. Graciela Brizuela

    Hello! I met Janet Stoddard in Paraguay. She participated in a Habitat for the Humanity building project and I was the local group leader. Besides, working very hard, never complained in spite of sometimes difficult situations ,and was always in a good mood! She is the ideal volunteer! She would do a wonderful job in South África.

  16. David Spenger

    Andrea is a very inspiring woman. I don´t know any person like her with whom I can have such deep conversations about global challenges. She has a lot of experience in travelling and has lived in a lot of countries all over the planet. Thanks to this, she speaks several languages fluently: Spanish, English, Italian. Also knowledge in arabic and chinese. It is very easy to get in contact with Andrea because of her open-minded attitude. She never gets tired of motivating people and her positive character is always a big benefit for others. Also she really wants to make the world a better place and give chances to less priviledged people – especially to women. Therefore I would recommend to pick her.

  17. NG

    Genuinely can not think of someone who deserves this opportunity more than Hiba. She is someone who is truly an advocate for those who can’t stand up for themselves and has overcome so many battles herself. A fabulous and worthy candidate!

  18. Shima Hosseinzadeh

    I know Andrea since she has moved to Germany. What I have noticed so far, is that Andrea loves Africa and African people. Most of her friends are Africans and she enjoys spending time with them. She also participates in many social activities since she is very kind. She supports human rights and respects all people. I hope she will be chosen since I think she is the one to help and support.

    • Ismail Fadlelmula

      My favorite is Andrea from Germany

  19. Marc

    I would like to recommend Andrea (from Germany)! I’ve known Andrea since 2001 and I can say that she is a great person and fit to this opportunity. Andrea has experience when it comes to volunteer jobs, she is a great communicator with a great and cheerful personality. Andrea is a great friend and person to be around with, always smiling and making others feel important. I have no doubt she will excel and be of great help for this job!!!

  20. Nori

    I think Andrea from Germany should win this competition because she seems to have experience travelling and volunteering. Her background might benefit this organization and make this world a better place. She can also get really valuable experience. It seems she comes from a developing country and that’s an extra point because that makes her more empathic and someone who could adapt to different and new situations easily.

  21. Laura Donati

    I met Andrea two years ago during a volunteering teaching placement in Sudan. It was my first teaching experience and Andrea taught me a lot, she helped me preparing the first classes, she empowered me with kind words, giving me the motivation and the strength I needed to stand up in front of a class.
    Together with being a skilled, prepared, teacher, Andrea is a beautiful person that with positivity and good vibes help people to see the bright side when they are feeling blue. Something really important when living in a difficult country.
    Her experience, her passion for teaching and helping others make her a perfect candidate for this experience. I couldn’t find a better match!

  22. Amal A

    Caring, open hearted, cultivated, supportive and motivated, these are just a few great characteristics of Andrea. She is experienced in traveling which gave her the chance to adjust to different culture, get out of her comfort zone, manage to live with her which has build her to adopt to any environment. As much as Andrea enjoys teaching, she is also eager to learn from them as well wether it be a language or traditional skill. There is no better candidate for this program more than Andrea she will bring passion, experience and new skills.

  23. Roberto

    Andrea para mi, es la que merece ganar por la fuerza y convencimiento de inculcar en los demás mucho conocimiento y principalmente una filosofia de vida basada en las relaciones interculturales usando como herramientas el respeto y la solidaridad principalmente.
    Ya lo ha demostrado en estos años conviviendo con culturas tan dispares, donde enriqueció sus conocimientos y dejo en cada lugar un poco de argentinidad.

  24. Alejandra Bulla

    Andrea should be the one selected for this program, she is proactive, kind hearted, her profession as teacher and her experience volunteering show how much she loves to share her knowledge and life with other people and other cultures as well as learn from them.

  25. Rosario Verrastro

    Ive known Andrea Collados for more than 20 years and I think she is the ideal person for this experience. She has devoted more than 10 years teaching a foreing language in different countries including China, Japan, sudan among others. That has shaped her, making her a sympathetic person, aware of cultural differences and has provided her with the necessary strength to know how to live abroad.
    She is also a nature and animal lover. In her home town she decoted time to take care of pets; which has been a priority in her life.
    She is a sensitive person; she is commited to help people who are in need. She has always been a peaceful defender of human rights.
    I wish she had the opportunity to be part of this experience because I know people in Africa would benefit from that.

  26. Jennifer Sheeran

    Hey Andrea! Thank you so much for sharing this with us! We can’t wait for the next update!



  1. Tiempo de volver a África … tiempo de seguir voluntariando! | From ARGENTINA to the world - […] por Kaya Responsible Travel. (Siguiendo este enlace, pueden leer mi entrada y comentarios: Pero el premio es solo…

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