2015 was a challenging year for AVA. We scaled up again, expanding the YearBeyond programme into 16 schools with 80 volunteers. AVA also ran a programme placing 50 volunteers on EPWP stipends into 18 host NGOs and small businesses. LiteraSEA was also piloted with 20 volunteers in 3 primary schools in Gugulethu. Another pilot involved placing 20 youth from the School of Skills into a variety of NGOs. Again AVA had huge successes from these programmes, with progression rates of up to 90%.
“What changes did I see in me as an individual? I was a very negative person. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t like looking at the brighter side of life. Being at AVA and doing the self-development actually changed me. I started to see things from the first perspective. I believe at AVA you are going to be more innovative and creative. You transform as a person. I am a more positive person now. I socialise with people I didn’t know, because I used to sit with the Xhosa people I know. So originally I didn’t understand or care about other people. It is a diverse culture here at AVA with different people. So I learn from people and they learn from me.”
AVA, I was a complete introvert. I wouldn’t make conversation with anyone. I
would just sit by myself. Now with AVA, I find myself more outgoing and putting
myself out there. Now I take up challenges. Even if I am not comfortable with
the challenges and it is not in my comfort zone, I still try to put myself out
there and try to do those things.
I am a realist. So I say things for how they are and how I see them to be. AVA has taught me to look further than my realism, and see other realities. If someone is going through something, it is not just because they are lazy. Why are they doing what they are doing? AVA has helped me a lot in that way. It has helped me to look and help. They taught me that you might want to help, but your approach isn’t necessarily what they need. AVA has given me a lot of things to do outside my comfort zone that have challenged me. This is how I became a better person. I never used to have patience. I have patience now. It taught me to be more understanding of other people’s situations.”
“AVA has taught me a lot of skills. A lot! How to treat kids and how to discipline them. Actually how to listen when someone is talking. I think that listening is the best skill AVA has taught me, because you know sometimes you just talk, talk, talk with your friends. At first, I thought ‘I didn’t want to do this’. It was boring, because we had to sit and let someone speak for five whole minutes. You don’t do anything. You don’t say ‘Yeah! I know that one’. You just sit and listen to someone talking. It has made a great impact on my life as well. I started listening to other people and I have used it to make other people listen while I am talking or whoever is talking. You need to make sure you listen. There are certain details you don’t take notice of. You just say ‘Oh… I know that one’. For instance, someone says they didn’t have food last night. You say ‘Ah! Same. It happened to me’, but you don’t really know why they went to bed hungry.”
“The motivational stuff I write for the volunteers is that they are making a difference, because some of them have principles from their schools putting pressure on them to see results. So I always tell them that they might not see the results now. But after ten years, the difference is that the learners could also do it to someone else. I always encourage them to keep on doing what they are doing, because it is a great thing! Also volunteering is close to my heart. It is what I have always wanted to do, but I did not have these opportunities until I heard about AVA and Year Beyond last year.”