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“Even if I’m not able to be in Cape Town anymore I hope I can do some good.”

UBELONG

Mary Kate Williams is a bright and caring undergraduate student at the University of Delaware in the Business Administration Management program. Even at such a young age, she is passionate about making a difference in other people’s lives. She volunteers at home and partakes in numerous exatracuricular activities, including being a basketball coach. Over her winter break she joined the Helping at a Daycare project in Cape Town, South Africa for three weeks. She was an excellent UBELONG Volunteer and an absolute joy for everyone to be with. Since returning to the United States she is using sports to keep making a difference in Cape Town. Find out how, keep reading!

What made you want to volunteer abroad in South Africa?
My whole life, I’ve always done volunteering. Back in high school, I went to Ursuline Academy, and our motto was SERVIAM, which means “I will serve”, so I was always taught that it’s not just about me – it’s about helping others.

I have worked as a camp counselor for many years in sport camps and educational camps. I taught kids how to play sports and how to better their knowledge both academically and in athletics. Working with children and seeing them learn and grow is something I love to be involved with.

In regards to volunteering abroad, this was my first time. I wanted to go abroad, but I didn’t want to have the typical tourist experience. I knew that I could use my skills for good and that’s why I decided to volunteer abroad.

What were the main challenges you  faced?
The main challenge was definitely having to leave and knowing that there was so much more that I could do. My last day was terrible just because I had to say goodbye. I got attached to the children, especially to one of them, a one-and-a-half year old girl named Jocelyn. I didn’t even have the courage to say goodbye to her. I knew where she lived and had even gone there to visit. The conditions she lived in were very difficult. So I couldn’t take leaving knowing where she was going back home to. I hope for my time there I helped brighten her life, but leaving was still difficult.

What was your impact?
Well, we all took some school supplies with us, but that’s the smallest impact we had. The most relevant impact is knowing that those kids loved having us there and that we made them happy, even for just a short time. They smiled when they saw us and I think the teachers also appreciated our being there—we made their very difficult jobs a little easier.

The first week the children had not started yet and we were helping to clean up the school and get it ready. Brother Tino was a maintenance worker there and he was just incredible. He never stopped working to make the school better. So one day Brother Tino brought us altogether and told us “I believe people come together for a reason and I believe you guys are making a difference”. For us, this was amazing, because this was someone we admired, who wouldn’t stop working, even during lunch-breaks, and there he was saying he thought we were amazing! We were the ones finding him amazing. This meant a lot for me, and I guess for all of us.

Right now, we’re trying to extend our impact from the US. We decided to start fundraising for their bus that needs fixing. They don’t need a lot of money –it’s around $7,000 –so we decided to promote a basketball fundraiser with our families and teachers to try to help donate to this cause. It doesn’t sound like a big thing, but it’s crucial that they have it fixed, and right now, they don’t have the resources to do it. Every little bit helps. Even if I’m not able to be in Cape Town anymore I hope I can do some good.

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Related post:
Meet Jamie Frank, a University of Delaware student who volunteered with UBELONG in Cusco, Peru on the Caregiving project.

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