You too can make a difference!
Dreamcatcher volunteers really do make a difference! The communities say so: they feel it, see it and experience it. Likewise our volunteers grow and learn a lot about themselves and about the communities. Together they facilitate change which can impact on a sustainable future. Dreamcatcher volunteers are orientated and inducted into their specific community. They learn about local ways, talents and attributes already in the communities. Matched with knowledge sharing, committed involvement and dialogue they work side by side with the local communities. Collectively they make a difference. A Dreamcatcher volunteer achieves that by going truly local to walk the road with the community. You can do that too!
The best way to get the most out of your time volunteering in South Africa, is to work through an organisation that has a track record built over a period of time and who are situated in the towns and communities where the volunteer projects or the needs are.
The very nature of Dreamcatcher and our volunteer programme is that it must make a difference to the volunteer: critically important however is that it must make a difference to the community or project where they volunteer. If there is no legacy experienced by both the volunteer and the community they volunteer in, no one has reached their goal when they started out with the process, and the status quo remains.
We live and work in the communities every day. We therefor prefer to work directly with the volunteers to make sure that there is a good match and connection between their aspirations and that of the community. By working this way, there is no leakage of information and communication is optimised. Many volunteers therefor come to us directly, either individually or in small focus groups. They may work as a team at times, individually or with another volunteer as the project and outcomes dictate this. Some volunteers may choose to come via a volunteer agency, their university or referrals. If a volunteer chooses to be referred in this way, this is no problem. We do accept the volunteers, but only once we have developed a working relationship with the organisations referring them. In this way the volunteer “channellers” share our ethos: that of measurable impact and legacy at local level. We believe that volunteers who want to share knowledge, gain local knowledge and impact positively, help facilitate sustainable social change -and development. Volunteers who actively seek to make the world a “better place”, commit and understand this. Then they roll up their sleeves with us, get mud on their shoes, at times take a back seat to local knowledge and help that knowledge to develop with their input. They get the job of outcomes based volunteering done.
Dreamcatcher was founded over 20 years ago with a aim to make a difference to the many people of all ages, living in abject poverty and a lack of skills to improve their quality life in communities where they live. We have never changed focus. Starting out before Apartheid was dismantled, finding South African volunteers with the means to assist us to alleviate the hardship was virtually impossible! But for a hand full of senior citizens who wanted to make a difference before they passed on, recruited in the community where our founder started out, we had no one to roll up their sleeves, stay in the communities and join us to help those in dire need. Our founder would not accept that the status quo should continue so, in consultation with the community, we worked locally, but reached out globally to the many friends and contacts we had and found, to join us to make a difference. That was over 2 decades ago.
It is thus fair to say that Dreamcatcher is not an arms length “volunteer” business. We don’t do “community development by remote” in a “hit-and-miss” fashion. We don’t “do” volunteering as a business venture. Dreamcatcher was founded to make a difference to strengthen the communities who were suffering extreme hardship due to the political system, the aftermath of which still resonates daily in communities across South Africa. Volunteering the Dreamcatcher community engagement way, ensures that leakage is minimized in terms of economic benefits. 90% of the money a volunteer contributes in terms of their accommodation, meals, transport and project is channeled directly into the community in various measurable ways. Money circulating in a community addresses the leakage and the local economy and growth is the result.
Any resources and residual funds left in our bank account which is stringently audited, after paying necessary administrative costs and insurances for the local entrepreneurs, are ploughed back directly into our community development projects. Dreamcatcher is also not funded or subsidised by government or local authorities. The contributions from volunteers are channeled to projects in need and are carefully tracked. The Kamamma (community mothers’) accommodation and meal providers, put the money they generate from their services, back into their local economy, their children and their quality of life. This is part of our poverty relief focus and each volunteer thus contributes directly to the local community economy.
We live and work in the communities where volunteers go. We see our volunteers as an extended part of our Dreamcatcher family, where we work side by side to make a difference that counts. We thus have “walked the talk” and have credibility in the communities. The founder of Dreamcatcher is still a volunteer after over 2 decades and we are well known in all the many communities and over 100 projects across the country.
We can think of no higher recommendation or delivery than that which is reflected in the stories from some of the many volunteers who have joined us and are proud of it! Likewise the reports of the impact of volunteers in the community are actively sought by us at regular community meetings and our impact is tracked. Please click and read their stories. Hopefully you too will honour us with a story of your volunteering time with us soon ☺.
You can read the postcards from other people who already volunteered with Dreamcatcher:
- Angela Dunlap – Illinois, United States
- Aleid Schipper and Hank Beermann
- Alex Pike – United Kingdom (after ten years the memories are still alive)
- Allison Poritz – Wisconsin, United States
- Amy Rost – Missouri, United States
- Bruce Rimell – Bradford, United Kingdom
- Chenoa Gachupin – Detroit, United States
- Carole Spiers – United Kingdom
- Debbie Siebers – Denver, United States
- Emily O’Brien – Traverse City, United States
- Jean & Tom Penny – Florida, United States
- Julia Roake – California, United States
- Lisa Fusella – Australia
- Marijke & Marjolein – the Netherlands
- Ricardo Alvarez – The Netherlands
- Ryan Woodard – United Kingdom
- Sarah Edwards – United Kingdom
- Spencer Holk – United States
- Veronica van Nederveen – The Netherlands
What kind of work can you do?
We have different kinds of projects and work in the communities. Here is an overview of the possible projects you can take part in. We can use any help we can get!
We do assist volunteers to get to know the country and its many attributes. We do that by helping them to travel and enjoy South Africa like a local. To experience the beauty, diversity and nature before or after they have volunteered with us or over weekends. Leisure time is not part of the volunteer activity. However it does not mean volunteers do not have fun! Many report that they have laughed more with the community whilst working alongside them, and learned more about the country, than ever before on a trip. Here is some more information about the volunteering program.
Here is an overview of the project fees – what’s included and what’s not included.
Here is a list of more practical information about volunteering:
If you seriously think about volunteering you might have some more questions. We have put the questions that are being asked more often in a frequently asked question list.
If you are interested, have more questions or want us to set up a volunteering trip for you please contact us. You can contact us using the contact form or send us a travel request form so we can provide you with an amazing experience. You too can make a difference, for the people of South Africa but also for yourself.