View volunteer testimonials here.



Age 24
Nationality American
Resident USA
Project Children's Home Project
Lisa Marie McAllister

My experience with AVIVA can only be described as positive, uplifting, inspirational and motivating. From the moment I decided to go, the AVIVA staff were there to help me and provide me all the information I needed to plan a safe, fun and rewarding trip. This was my first time travelling alone and my first time out of the country and I couldn't have had a better experience. The house in Observatory exceeded my expectations and Kim, Keenan and Ursula, who I interacted with on a daily basis, were more than staff--we became lifelong friends.

The projects AVIVA offers, along with the accommodations and tours they provide, made for the best deal I found on the internet. After months of research, no other project or organization could even compete and I am so happy that I made the choice that I did. AVIVA really does have something for everyone--whether you are travelling on a budget or have a little more spending money-AVIVA can accommodate you. They also have so many different projects to choose from: animals, the environment and working with children, that choosing just one was the hardest part!

Volunteering at the Children's Home led to an experience that I had only hoped to have. I learned so much about the culture and people, and the children taught me more about myself than I probably taught them. The handprint I left in the volunteer flat is nothing compared to the handprint those children left on my heart. I think of them every day and cannot wait to return someday, not just to the Children's Home, but to join AVIVA & the staff in another of the amazing projects offered.

I also made lasting friendships with many of the other volunteers through AVIVA. Frances Abbott (U.K) and I hit it off right away and she came to visit me over Christmas break here in the U.S. I was so thrilled to see her again after only 8 months since South Africa! And now I have the opportunity to go visit her for a week and I couldn't be more excited. I can't wait for more adventures with her as we travel together and we have agreed to try to visit each other as often as financially possible! Breanne Smith (Canada) and I, although we only volunteered together in passing (maybe a week or two together) remain close. In fact, we decided to volunteer together in New Orleans, a trip we planned while sipping wine with friends and chatting in the Obz house in South Africa. We met down in Louisiana and had another great experience together as we built houses in St. Bernard Parish and then stayed a few extra days to celebrate Mardi Gras New Orleans style! She is planning to visit me again in July, and once again, I couldn't be more thrilled!

These are just two of the many people I am still in contact with. I think of Kim all the time as we had so much fun together and she loved how loud I was (I think!) in the house. Thanks to technology, also known as, Facebook, I can wish my South African friends Happy Birthday or ask how they are doing, whenever I want, which is awesome and more reliable than snail mail. I can also keep track of the new projects provided by AVIVA and start making plans for another trip, sooner rather than later, I hope. I am so blessed to have met and enjoyed so many different people's company and stories and can't wait to go back and have a completely different experience next time. Spreading the word about this unique and powerful organization is just another way to make a difference, especially in your own country. If everyone told just one interested person, imagine the amount of people that would visit the website and maybe make a donation or sign up for a project themselves. Just because the trip is over, doesn't mean the movement should stop.

I thank AVIVA everyday for making it possible to realize my potential and dreams. Volunteering doesn't stop here. It is has invoked in me the interest of non-profit organizations and, as cliche as it sounds, really changed my life. I am even thinking of earning a non-profit certificate so that I can make those dreams possible. I dreamed of going to South Africa, and thanks to AVIVA and a little fundraising, I did it. Now, the sky really is the limit. Thank you AVIVA and thank you to the beautiful children at the Children's Home. I'll be back, I promise.

Will Buttery
Age: 19
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Will Buttery
Nicola WilliamsNicola Williams
Age: 27
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