A new year often goes hand in hand with new resolutions. Depending on our own circumstances, it can be anything ranging from starting an exercise routine, saving more or giving back to the community through volunteer work. We reckon, why not do it all – and Mia Uys is the perfect example.
We met up with the multifaceted Mia Uys – enthusiastic trail runner, Master’s student, long-term Anna Foundation volunteer and forgood Global Citizenship Winner of the month (November 2018) – to learn more about her experiences as volunteer.
[Anna Foundation] You’ve been a volunteer with the Anna Foundation for just over two years. You must love it to keep committing to the cause. What are some of the highlights that stand out for you?
[Mia] I’ve become very close with the children from Neethlingshof farm. Every week, they bring a new energy. I always try find fun and innovative games focusing on different aspects, not only physical exercise and sports, but also teamwork and problem solving.
“They’re always very eager and it seems to me it’s one of their weekly highlights, just as much as it’s one of mine. I also enjoy all the events that the Anna Foundation is part of, such as trail running, cycling and bringing the kids to also experience that.”
[Anna Foundation] Back when you started as a volunteer, what influenced your decision to choose the Anna Foundation?
[Mia] When I started, I was in my second year of undergraduate studies. When I was in school, at Rhenish Girls High, I used to volunteer with the school society at the Kayamandi crèche. I realised that I hadn’t been as involved in the community during my varsity life and it was something I really missed being a part of. I started doing research about organisations in the surrounding area and my Dad mentioned that I should take a look at the Anna Foundation. I looked at their website, loved what they were doing and met up with Anna. At the time, Neethlingshof needed a sports facilitator and it just developed from there.
“I like that it’s a very holistic offering, not just academics and sports. The Foundation really makes an effort to include all sorts of different extra activities and outings, like arts and crafts, drama and life skills coaching. It really makes a difference to the children’s lives outside of school.”
[Anna Foundation] For anyone interested in volunteering, what does it take to be a volunteer?
[Mia] It takes time, of course, and also passion for what you do and empathy for what they’re going through. Sometimes you get there and they’re upset and you don’t know what’s happening in their lives. Just to be present and feel that what you’re doing is making a difference, makes you keep doing what you’re doing.
It’s not always easy. In the beginning it was hard to get them to listen; they’re all different ages. It gets better. Now when I go it’s so easy. They are so attentive and listen so well.
“I’d really recommend people to volunteer, even if it’s just at events, helping out at the water tables. There’s a lot of opportunities for different kinds of volunteering. You don’t have to come there every week, there are so many other events where you can get involved.”
If you’re reading this and would be interested in volunteering, or know someone you’d like to refer, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the next two months, we’ll be at the Stellenbosch Harvest Parade on 2 February, the Simonsig Trail Run on 9 February and the Fairtree Simonsberg fun run on 10 February. After that, we’re looking forward to the Absa Cape Epic in March.