Edward's experience with SAVWA

Long term volunteering

Written by Edward Chilopa from Zambia

April 2023

Edward Chilopa from New Hope Waves, Zambia, is currently doing long-term volunteering with South Africa Volunteer Workcamps Association (SAVWA).

In February 2023 he travelled 24 hours by truck, nearly 1200km, to reach his new home for the coming months: Soshanguve, a township situated about 30km north of Pretoria, South Africa. He has been busy supporting SAVWA’s After School programmes with local youth, their permaculture farm, and in his free time singing in the choir of the local community church. Edward first visited in 2022 SAVWA as part of the project Forging Ubuntu (funded by UNESCO), where he learned hands-on skills in permaculture and participated in sessions on gender equality. Now he is back to spend more time with the organisation. Edward hopes to take knowledge back to his own organisation and strengthen ties between the organisations in the region.



Here, Edward shares his feelings on volunteering so far, in an interview with Enock Pedze, chairman of SAVWA:


Enock: Hello everyone, my name is Enock Pedze from South Africa Volunteer Workcamps Association (SAVWA). I’ve got Mr Edward Chilopa here from New Hope Waves, Zambia. Welcome.

Edward: Hello, greetings to everyone. I’m Edward Chilopa from Livingstone, Zambia, New Hope Waves organisation.


Enock:Tell me, Mr Chilopa, how was your travel from Livingstone to Pretoria?

Edward: My travel from Livingstone to Pretoria was marvellous! I experienced a new mode of travelling, I travelled by truck. It was my first time coming somewhere by truck.


Enock: How was the experience itself? Coming here in October, did you learn something?

Edward: Yeah, actually it was marvellous. Even through the experience of coming with the truck, I learned something, because it wasn’t easy. I learned that youth like me can make it, to travel, reach new places and know new things! It’s important.


Enock: How has your experience been staying with SAVWA?

Edward: The experience staying with SAVWA has been marvellous, so good. I’m really enjoying it. It’s a good thing, going volunteering to a certain country, where you don’t know anyone, but because of the heart and the confidence which you have as a youth. Volunteering is something all youth can do, you just need the heart. You must be passionate in what you want. You can make it at any time.


Enock: Tell me about your experience in Soshanguve. Do you like it? Is there anything that you regret? 

Edward: The experience in Soshanguve, I love it very much. People, kids are social with me. When I was coming here, in my mind I thought of xenophobia. Last year I was watching the news, and it seemed like there was a lot of violence. I thought it was going to happen to me. But it’s not real. What you see on media platforms and social media, it’s not always real. You have to see with your own eyes. People here are social, they are very careful in taking care of me, helping me learn their local language, learning their culture, and communicating with kids.


Enock: The last question, Mr Chilopa, what’s your advice to young people from Africa and maybe from around the world in terms of volunteering? What would you say to them?

Edward: My advice to young people all over the world is to believe in yourself! When you want to do something you have to activate your belief system. You must be confident in everything you do, and then you can do it. Don’t worry about what people say. We are all different, and you can make it as long as you have passion in whatever you want to do, as long as you have the heart to volunteer. Volunteering means paying attention, it means putting in more effort. When you volunteer, you work for something without being paid. It has to come from deep down in your heart. So in whatever you believe, whatever you do, what you think is what you become. So believe in yourself, youths out there, that you can do it! It doesn’t matter how far it feels, but as long as you believe your belief system is active, and you’re going to make it. Just the same as I did.