Having volunteered with Tearfund ICS once, Mtambo returned as an ICS Team Leader in the summer of 2015. He led a team of UK and South African volunteers in the township of Chesterville, near Durban. The volunteers were the first Tearfund ICS team to be placed in Chesterville, with Mtambo establishing positive relationships with the community and paving the way for future volunteers.
I have always had a passion for volunteering and community development. I was already involved in community work before ICS and had been a young leader for different projects before establishing my own charity recently in Johannesburg. I have been working to secure donations as well as practical things, like clothes and blankets, for people living in informal settlements who are in dire poverty.
As part of my team leader placement with ICS, I oversaw lots of projects that the team supported. We helped a crèche by writing an Early Childhood Development report for them. On Mandela day we led a community ‘clean up’, picking up litter and we managed to fill 80 bags. There was only about 20 of us but we worked for hours until we’d cleared a whole area that had been totally covered in rubbish.
Last year when I was an ICS volunteer, it was a more chilled out experience but as a team leader there is more pressure to make sure people in your team deliver on their projects on time and meet deadlines. I had to write a weekly report about what the team had done and what we would be doing the next week as well as risk assessments. There’s also the other side to being a team leader and keeping the team updated with everything that’s going on, offering pastoral support for individuals and checking on how their relationships with schools and teachers are going.
My advice to future team leaders is to be open minded and willing to learn as much as possible. Do not be afraid and just remember why you applied and what you’re in a community to do. But also, don’t put too much pressure on yourself!