Rachael Mazzaro

“I decided to come to South Africa on a whim when one of my friends from college told me about the VAC program right before our Christmas break. I knew going to Africa was always something I wanted to do; I was just waiting for the perfect moment to make it happen. VAC seemed like a great program to connect with due to their tailor-made internships and the opportunity to have some pretty awesome adventures in such a beautiful place as Cape Town.

“I came here as a social work student hoping to expose myself to the world of social work in a global setting. My internship was at Baphumelele Children’s Home in a township known as Khayelitsha. Since day one I was welcomed with warm smiles and open arms. My supervisor taught me so much about the challenges social workers face here in South Africa and how Baphumelele has worked to overcome these challenges. Every day I was constantly inspired by the work being done here and the resiliency of the children at Baphumelele. I will never forget the smiles of the children I worked with and how much fun we had together. They brought me so much joy and I can only hope for a brighter future for them all.

“When leaving the States to come to South Africa, I could not have imagined how strong of a bond I would have made with those I met at my internship. Going to work every morning was not a job to me, but a time to see my new family. It hurts my heart to say goodbye to everyone here, but I am walking away with great memories, an abundance of knowledge about social work, and a new place to call home. I am forever grateful to VAC for allowing me to have such an amazing experience and I can only hope that this is not goodbye forever, but a see you all very soon!”

-Rachel Mazzaro, pictured at the summit of Lion’s Head.