19-year-old Luca Coniglio is from Germany and after finishing school, he came to South Africa in October 2013 to work with JAM SA as a volunteer until the end of the year.
As a volunteer, I was able to stay on the JAM Base in Honeydew, Johannesburg. It is just beautiful, with two pools, a tennis court and a café for WiFi. On top of that, you have many neighbours but you stay in your own little unit, with a bedroom, kitchenette and small lounge. For me that was very exciting because I was living on my own for the first time and in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Luckily the base here is very safe and everybody is nice and wants to help. I made new friends very quickly and I learned that it is very important to be nice to each other. I would say that nowhere in Germany would I have been welcomed so well by strangers!
One of the most exhausting tasks at JAM is the delivery of the porridge to the day care centres they support in their Nutritional Feeding programme. Every second month, a truck comes to JAM with 1 200 x 25kg bags of the CSS+ Porridge. We have to unload them and store them properly in the containers. Then we have to deliver them in two weeks to all (500+) day care centres – so that is about 120 bags a day delivered with just two bakkies (vans)!
Those deliveries changed just everything in me. If you see the poorness in those informal settlements and how some people have to live, it is just overwhelming. That is where I learned how important it is to help. To work at JAM changes just about every little part in your body.
After a while at JAM, I had made great friends and it just felt really good! When my parents visited me, they were really proud of me and said I had gathered great experience and became more mature. I see it the same way – JAM was just a perfect opportunity to improve my English and to learn how life works, it made me wiser and showed me how good it feels to contribute to change.
JAM was one of the best experiences of my life and everybody in this whole entire world should do it – just to see what we can change and how good our life actually is! After my time at JAM, I will never complain about my life again because it is just amazing!
So stand up from your little chair in front of your desk and go and volunteer at JAM, it will be great fun and fulfil your life.
Luca Coniglio, JAM SA volunteer 2013
If you would like to find out more about JAM SA’s volunteering programme, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.