How volunteering helps us all (and your favourite cause)

21 November 2016

Oxford English Dictionary just declared “post-truth” the word of 2016 and that sometimes feels just about right. After Brexit, an upcoming Trump presidency in the US, and the hottest year on global record, things feel like they’re going a bit crazy and we’re getting more and more disconnected from our shared experience as a global community.

Because of this, there’s one other topic we’ve been coming back to a lot in the if i could… office recently — volunteering and where it fits in in our lives.

Getting out to volunteer our times and skills for causes we believe in means we reconnect with the goodness inside ourselves, and also make new friends, have new experiences, and hopefully change a life.

This belief in the power of volunteering is why we’re really excited to have launched our volunteering program in New Delhi for this Christmas.

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The one great thing about philanthropy is that you really can do no wrong! Find a cause that you care about and spend a couple of hours a week or per month. You don’t have to be an expert by any means – you just have to have a drive and willingness to help others. Any amount of time is appreciated – you make a huge difference just by being there. Spending time in situations where people are faced with hardships can be challenging.

How volunteering can change things

One of our interns shared one of her strongest volunteering memories from back home:

I remember one day in particular. It was a difficult Monday (aren’t they all?) where nothing was going right – my hair was not cooperating with the weather, I had slept through an early morning class and I had to walk through campus in snow that came up to my knees. I was almost going to excuse myself from a volunteer commitment I had made to help out at homeless shelter, but I decided to go anyway. At the shelter that day, various companies around the city had put together tables with amenities for the under-privileged. As a volunteer, I had to show people around the area and make sure they knew where to find everything they needed.

My first guest of the day was a middle-aged man who was very cheerful despite being out in the snow all day. I showed him around the hall and asked if he needed to see a doctor, or perhaps some groceries and clothes. He said all he needed was some dog food for his beagle which was waiting for him outside. I led him to the pet section and he picked up some pet food and went on his way. I was completely amazed that although this gentleman was facing difficult circumstances, he was not thinking of himself at the time. I went home that day with a new perspective on things that I thought were tough, and gratitude for everything that I had.

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Which brings us back to the question – why volunteer? Volunteer because it keeps us humble and helps us to appreciate the world I live in. Volunteer because it’s possible to learn something from everyone you meet and interact with. Volunteer because every little bit of time you spend helping others makes a positive impact in someone’s life. Finding a volunteer project can be overwhelming, but that’s where we can help you!

Why volunteer in India?

Working in a third world country like India, which is going through an economic boom, combined with the experience of living with 1.2-billion fellow inhabitants, getting to know their culture, religion, tradition, and enjoying the beautiful nature the country has to offer, makes for a truly memorable experience.  Not only will you grow your skills and build on your resume but you will also grow as a person given the richness and diversity of this country.

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We all look for experiences that broaden our perspective and change us for the better. India is far from a simple country. The culture shock you experience upon arriving there almost demands that you change your horizon and look at things in a way like never before.

When a stranger helps you or even when a child you helped touches your feet and folds hands to express how thankful they are to you, there is no way you cannot feel a feeling you have never had.

What we say about India can never do justice to what you can actually experience there, but rest assured you will not leave the same person.

Change your perspective this year and come and volunteer with us in New Delhi. Click here to apply today! 🎄

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Finding adventures in and around Cape Town

18 November 2016

20160902_154748by Camille de Vos, who’s interning in Cape Town

At the beginning of this week, I was regaling a friend of mine with tales of the weekend. While I was covering Sunday afternoon’s hike, an adventure we hoped would take four hours but ended up being five and a half, he broke into laughter and exclaimed ‘Wow, you really are living the life.” After stopping and reflecting on that, I realised I really am living the life, whatever it is that phrase means.

Not only do I have an incredible internship opportunity, which has opened so many different doors and opportunities for me professionally, each and every moment is filled with adventure.

Reflecting on all the adventures I’ve had here in this vibrant city, they are all so different yet so wonderful at the same time. I’ve travelled on the back of a motorbike to catch the sunset from Signal Hill, hunted down fantastic restaurants to catch a delicious meal and hiked up Lion’s Head during a full moon. Other times I have piled in the back of a car with friends to head out of town to go horse riding, followed by a marvelous lunch and wine tasting in the winery next door. I’ve discovered banana bread French Toast for breakfast and discussed the meaning of life beneath the light of the super moon.

Being in another place and open to the new experiences that come with it, anything can happen. You may even find yourself baking cookies at 11pm on a Wednesday evening.

No matter what your interests are, Cape Town will definitely have something to fit into your taste. If you’re a more active person you can always find a hike to do, go surfing or even paragliding. If that isn’t really suited to your taste, you can very easily find a restaurant that serves up some tasty food and a great wine to go with it, or you could head out of town a bit and go wine tasting at one of the many wineries in the region.

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Within town you can also visit the “old school” Labia theatre for a movie, check out the art galleries and shops on Bree street as they open up on the first Thursday evening of each month. Over the weekends various markets are running, offering more great food and a range of different crafts, clothing and other fascinating items.

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Adventure is there, waiting for all who are willing to grab it. Breathe in the good vibes of Cape Town and hold on tight as you ride the waves of adventure as it comes your way.

Start your adventure today and apply for an if i could… internship like Camille’s here.

The 3 things you have to do for Christmas in New Delhi

16 November 2016

With Christmas almost around the corner, it certainly is the time to be jolly and why wouldn’t you be?

Sign up for the if I could… Christmas volunteering experience in New Delhi to make the festive season even more jolly for yourself and those who need the work of a changemaker like you.

You’ll be immersed in a development sector experience that’s making real change for the people (and animals) of the city, and take a cultural trip that you can’t get back home!

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If you’re looking for a unique way of celebrating Christmas away from home, here are some of the other interesting experiences that you can expect in New Delhi over Christmas.

Connaught Place: the heart of the Indian capital, around Christmas Day this area buzzes with activity. It is decked up with Christmas lights, decorations, seasonal sales stalls and street food vendors. We recommend trying out Peanut and Jaggery Chikki (traditional Indian stick-jaw candy) that you can get from the street food stalls.

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Attend a Christmas Mass: Get the feeling of a traditional Christmas and visit the Sacred Heart Cathedral, which is decorated with bright lights and shining stars at least a week before the 25th. It is one of the oldest and most significant churches in Delhi. The main events here are the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the Christmas Vigil Service an hour before midnight on 24th December and the Morning Mass on Christmas day.

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Christmas market: Come December, Christmas markets spring up all around Delhi. One of the popular markets in the city is the German Christmas Market where you’ll find German Christmas cakes, German sausages and beer, apart from the usual gift items and Christmas decorations.

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Another popular Christmas market in Delhi is the Christmas carnival at Select Citywalk mall in Saket. The carnival has India’s largest Christmas tree (70 feet tall) and has several stalls where you can buy gifts, decorative items, cakes and candles and sample amazing different foods.

if I could… offers you the opportunity to truly embrace the spirit of the season by giving back and supporting children at risk (and other worthy initiatives) while warmly celebrating a joyous holiday.

What are you waiting for? Book today!

Some cool things you didn’t know about Cape Town

14 November 2016

With Cape Town being one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, it is safe to say that the internet is inundated with information about our beautiful City. Through a few Google searches and a quick read over a few articles, you might think you know just about all there is to know on “The Mother City”. However, we thought that some interesting trivia on Cape Town from an insider’s perspective would make for an interesting post:

  • Cape Town was NOT originally founded by Jan Van Riebeek and the Dutch East India company when they landed to setup the half way port that has now become the Castle of Goodhope. Instead, it was founded some time before that by Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias, and was initially called “The Cape of Storms.” But there were many people living in the area before the European settlers arrived…
    In around 2300 BP (Before Present), hunter-gatherers called the San acquired domestic stock in what is now modern day Botswana. Their population grew, and spread throughout the Western half of South Africa. They were the first pastoralists in southern Africa, and called themselves Khoikhoi (or Khoe), which means ‘men of men’ or ‘the real people’. This name was chosen to show pride in their past and culture. The Khoikhoi brought a new way of life to South Africa and to the San, who were hunter-gatherers as opposed to herders. This led to misunderstandings and subsequent conflict between the two groups. The Khoikhoi were the first native people to come into contact with the Dutch settlers in the mid 17th century. As the Dutch took over land for farms, the Khoikhoi were dispossessed, exterminated, or enslaved and therefore their numbers dwindled.
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Cape Town is credited with being the South Westernmost point of the African continent

  • Remains of old hand axes have already been found near Cape Town dating back to 750 million years ago, playing true to Cape Town’s nickname of “The Mother City”.
  • National Train service provider, Metrorail, has locomotive roots dating all the way back to 1859. An old steam engine by the name of “Blackie” was brought down to South Africa to help build one of the first railway lines in the City.
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“Blackie” the steam engine can be found standing in Cape Town Station for all to see.

  • One of the busiest and oldest streets in the C.B.D, Adderley Street, was originally covered by wooden blocks, only being covered with tar much later on.
  • The oldest living tradition in modern day Cape Town is “The Noon Gun”, which fires at 12pm everyday (except for Sundays) to signal that it is midday to the rest of the City.
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The bang of the Noon Gun on Signal Hill let’s everyone in the City know when the clock strikes 12pm

  • Contrary to popular belief, it is the V&A Waterfront and NOT Table Mountain that is South Africa’s most visited destination.
  • South African doctor, Dr. Christiaan Barnard, performed the world’s very first human heart transplant  at Groote Schuur Hospital in Observatory, Cape Town all the way back in 1967. He then went on to perform the first lung transplant in 1971.
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Dr. Christian Barnard (left) performing the first heart transplant in the world (right) at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town

  • Cape Town is actually situated on an underground river called “Camissa” which means “Place of Sweet Waters”.
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The Camissas River till streaming steadily underground until this very day.

  • The internationally renowned wine industry in Cape Town is one of the oldest trading wine industries in the world outside of Europe and the Mediterranean. It dates all the way back to 1659.
  • Afrikaans which is commonly used in Cape Town by people of all races (owing to it’s Dutch history) is the youngest listed official language in the world.

While we don’t promise that these random tidbits of information will do anything to make your visit to Cape Town more exciting, we do feel proud in the fact that we managed to give you some insight into some of the things not commonly known about this City.

(images in this post are sourced from the internet)

How India will give you a whole new perspective on life

9 November 2016

“If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.” – Romain Rolland

From slums to traffic jams to extreme weather conditions, Delhi is a city where beauty lies in its chaos.

Home to the world’s oldest and most diverse cultures, Delhi is a perfect example of how people from religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Sikhism and Islam live together in one community. The well-preserved historical monuments such as the Red Fort, Qutab Minar and Humayun’s Tomb are like storybooks carrying great tales of the past. Set aside some time while you volunteer in Delhi to take a tour around some of these awe-inspiring cultural and historic sites.

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But if you’re not in the mood for something ancient, you could visit India just for the food! Although Indian food is heavily influenced by religious and cultural choices and traditions, the use of a combination of herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables make it an absolute delight.

What you can eat

Apart from the famous curry, what is worth trying in Delhi is the street food called ‘chaat’. Indian chaats are typically savoury snacks found on roadside food carts and are very tangy and spicy on the palate. Delhi is a city of culinary wonders and eating out in the capital is always a delightful adventure. From mouth-watering samosas to buttery paranthas on street corners, the city is known for its delicious fare.

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As an if i could… volunteer from another country, you may find yourself in a fix when having to choose from a myriad restaurants. All kinds of cuisine are available and there is a place and an item on the menu to cater to each and every kind of palate and pocket. So, whether you are a vegan from Bali, a hardcore carnivore from Iceland or a steak lover from America, as long as you are ready to get your heart stolen by New Delhi’s food, you are in for a treat.

Who you’ll meet

Delhi-ites are very proud of their hospitality and you will find them to be one of the warmest people who treat their guests like gold. From a street vendor to a posh businessman, what you will notice in common is that they are always ready to help! If you are shopping at a local market and someone notices that you are unable to convey your message to the vendor, they will immediately jump at the opportunity to help you in translating. It is quite serendipitous to see that despite all the chaos, everyone finds a way to keep smiling and going out of the way to help strangers, especially foreigners.

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How you can celebrate

Grey skies, misty air, heat relief, spicy food, foggy views, boots and scarves, jam-packed transport and endless opportunities for romance, friendship and travel – Delhi winters are the stuff that poems and songs are made of. There is definitely no dearth of celebration in Delhi, but December brings with it more festivity than most months; Christmas, new beginnings and plans for the new year mark the season. Besides the great weather (occasionally very cold though), there is a tangible festivity in the air with everyone experiencing end-of-year abandon. Offices shut, markets and malls get lit up and restaurants get creative with their menus. Praise the lord and just in case the day after Christmas is a downer, know that you have more days (until the second week of January) legitimately dedicated to relaxing and indulging in other fulfilling activities.

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How it will change your life

We all look for experiences that broaden our perspective and change us for the better. India is far from a simple country. The culture shock you experience upon arriving there almost demands that you change your horizon and look at things in a way like never before.

When a stranger helps you or even when a child you helped touches your feet and folds hands to express how thankful they are to you, there is no way you cannot feel a feeling you have never had.

What we say about India can never do justice to what you can actually experience there, but rest assured you will not leave the same person.

Change your perspective this year and come and volunteer with us in New Delhi. Click here to apply today! 🎄

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Contact us for more information