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Alumni blog: Aldrin’s gap year in Zimbabwe

Aldrin in the office
Photo: Aldrin is enjoying the start of his professional career.

Aldrin with children at SOS Children's Villages Zimbabwe
Photo: Aldrin with the pupils at SOS Children's Villages in Zimbabwe.

Aldrin at SIS Children's Villages
Photo: The students enjoy outdoor activities as well as classroom learning.

Aldrin celebrates graduating from Pestalozzi
Photo: Aldrin Shumba celebrates the end of exams at Pestalozzi in June 2013.

20 May 2014

Aldrin Shumba was at Pestalozzi from 2011 to 2013. After graduating, he headed home and undertook a placement at SOS Children’s Villages in Zimbabwe. Here he reports on his fulfilling and enjoyable gap year.

I started volunteering for SOS a few days after my return from England, where I had just finished my IB course. SOS has a village with a similar setup to Pestalozzi and an ethos of providing a basic livelihood to orphaned children. The placement was made possible by Charlie, the Partnerships and Development Officer at Pestalozzi, who helped arrange it.

While at SOS, my work has been diverse, including providing psychosocial support, helping the children to set up projects to trickle down to the community at large and also helping community-based organisations under the support of SOS to come up with charity policies in order to receive donor aid.

While some of the work requires enhanced concentration, some is fun and jovial. For example, when I decide to set up a workshop (for example, about drug abuse), I can take the students out of town for camping in different tourist destinations around the country. At the end of the day, I receive quality experiences as a young professional and quality adventures as a young adult.

Most of the contributions I’ve made at SOS have been due to the experiences I derived from living at Pestalozzi. At one time at Pestalozzi, I had the opportunity to do work experience within the village for week. I was interested in how to market a charity, and I was placed in the marketing department. This gave me the know-how and skills to market the Community Based Organisations which are the ‘brain child’ of SOS, so I have been able to transfer the information and knowledge from Pestalozzi to SOS.

The experience of working at SOS has had a profound influence on my career prospects. I will be studying Globalisation: History, Politics and Culture this coming September at the University of Brighton. SOS, as an international organisation, has helped me get a better view of how African societies are globalising through interactions with donors from different countries whose aim is to develop under-developed communities.

I have also been trying to acquire certain skills which shall contribute to my entire career. While volunteering at SOS, I was fortunate to also have paid employment as a public relations officer for a group of private schools within my city of Bulawayo. This has enabled me to gain maturity within a professional environment and learn to become more responsible for my up-keep. From my earnings, as well as support from a friend, I have been running a separate poultry project which has also been helping support myself and my family. I sometimes wonder if I am only a 20 year-old given the responsibilities I have managed to handle in my gap year. It has been a fantastic journey which has enabled me to apply classroom skills into real-world practice.

My gap year is almost over, but it doesn’t feel like a year – more like a month. I have received fantastic support from the social workers at SOS who have made me feel like part of a team making a positive social transformation and encouraging development at grassroots level.

While many Pestalozzi graduates go straight to university, others choose to take a gap year. Read their stories.