Kelly Smith
Montana, USA

“‘In my language there is a saying ‘Ndiwelimilambo enamagama’ ( I have crossed famous rivers). It means that one has traveled a great distance, that one has had wide experience and gained some wisdom from it.’ Nelson Mandela,  A Long Walk to Freedom.  Three months ago this quote defined my hopes for my travels. Three months ago I could only imagine living in the neighborhood of Observatory in Cape Town, South Africa and VAC was just an internship service. Three months ago Baphumelele was a name I couldn’t pronounce with a website that compelled me enough to travel across the world.

“Now a single word can define my existence in South Africa. That word is gratitude. I was continuously grateful for living surrounded by such beauty and amazing people and to have the same back home to miss. If ever there was a moment where I became jaded I just had to look up and stand in awe of living in the shadow of Table Mountain.

“Now after a weekend away returning to Observatory felt like returning home.  Life in Observatory quickly became natural with the support of VAC staff. My new found family of interns became an integral part of life in Observatory. It was so important to have fellow interns that were ready to share in all that life in Cape Town has to offer.

“Now Baphumelele is the beginning to my career, the fuel to my passion and the home to those who inspire me daily. As a social work intern at Baphumelele Children’s Home I was given the trust and responsibilities to gain everything I could from my short three months. My coworkers took me in, put up with my lack of Xhosa skills and let me join in their vision for Baphumelele.

“I know I will be back because South Africa has so much more to teach me. There are still experiences to be had and wisdom to gain but for now VAC has made it possible to have three months of unforgettable memories from South Africa that will always be MINE.”