Being of service to others is an ethos that Scouting youth from around the globe live by. German Scouter Katharina Steiniger volunteered for 11 months at the Mpumalanga Regional Office. This is her story.
“I had the privilege of volunteering for the Mpumalanga region. During this time, I learnt a lot about myself, South Africa and its many cultures. At the beginning of my stay I was lucky to attend my first camp here. I was able to directly discover the similarities and differences between camp life in Germany and the camp life in South Africa, especially Mpumalanga. Central – as in all camps worldwide – was the fun the participants had and how they grew and came together as a group, but also as individuals. My role was to support the kitchen and so I learnt how to cook quite a few traditional dishes. I can now prepare ‘pap with chakalaka’ without problems and will also cook it in Germany for my friends and family. During the course of my stay in South Africa I participated in a number of camps and every time the highlight was the campfire evening. Here we sat around a fire and danced and sang together. The individual groups prepared small games which we played. I will miss these evenings.
In addition to these beautiful experiences, I also accompanied the office team to two funerals of Scouting members. During these very sad occasions I got to know a bit more about the culture of the people I was working and living with. I recognized that their cohesion extends beyond death. I found it impressive that all the men present filled the grave together with the family. The women present supported this action by singing. To me it felt like a sign of respect and a way to show the family that they were there for them too.”
When Katharina was not helping the region to implement their projects and camps, she took the time to explore South Africa. “During my “holidays” I was able to travel and explore the beautiful country. I was so impressed by the diversity of a single country. It felt like many different countries in one! I saw beautiful beaches along the Garden Route, walked through the breath-taking mountains of the Drakensberg and watched the lights of Cape Town from the top of Lions Head. I truly feel that these different landscapes reflect the different cultures of South Africa. It is just as admirable as how all the cultures live together.
In addition to all these experiences, I was also able to grow and develop myself. In Germany I often got very stressed and hassled. I thought about everything and everyone and was very restless. My friends and colleagues in Mpumalanga have taught me to be quieter, to take things as they come and not to get excited about things I can’t change. I am so grateful for this new gained attitude and I hope to keep it up in Germany”, she says with a smile.
With this new attitude and new friends in her heart, Katharina recently returned to Germany. ” I have met very special people in South Africa, whom I would not want to miss in my life. I will not forget their advice and the talks we had. Part of me will probably stay in South Africa, but I will also take a piece of South Africa with me to Germany. I thank the SCOUTS South Africa Mpumalanga region, DPSG and Worldwide for this wonderful experience that I will never forget.”