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Organization Review

Overall Experience: 
Hello. My name is Natalie Finkelberg. I am from Montreal, Canada (currently living in New York City) and I feel so fortunate that I was able to travel to South Africa and work together with the wonderful ladies of Philisa Abafazi Bethu. Volunteering with PAB was a “life changing” experience for myself and all the other volunteers I worked with. After leaving our home in Canada and going to South Africa, we never could have imagined what was in store for us. Living and working on the Cape Flats, a suburb of Cape Town stricken with extremely high poverty, drug usage, gang, domestic and gender based violence, was definitely an eye opening experience. Coming from Canada I expected a vast difference in culture but could never have expected the warmth we were greeted with. From the day we walked into our host family’s home they treated us as part of their family and taught us all about their culture and the way they lived. 
You often meet many different types of people in your life. Lucinda Evans, the founder of P.A.B., meant the world to me as there really is no one else like her. Her drive, positive thinking, and big heart provided me with the energy to support the community every day. For me, Lucinda and 4 other special ladies volunteering full time for P.A.B. taught me the meaning of selflessness – living their lives solely for the good of others, desperately trying to fix their broken community, the community of Lavender Hill. From the moment I met Lucinda and heard about P.A.B., I was drawn to the organization trying to lend a hand wherever I could. P.A.B. gave myself and my fellow volunteers the chance to help women and children who are affected by disease and gender based violence. We Provided one on one counseling for women and children who are victims of rape, domestic and gender base abuse and those suffering from HIV/AIDS and TB as well as, supported and facilitated Women‘s weekly support groups for survivors of domestic abuse and gender based violence and lastly, ran after school programs, and weekend camps for local children providing life skills and sport lessons. 
One of the most meaningful experiences for me was the weekend at camp. We took 86 children out of Lavender Hill and to camp where they were free to play, be with their friends, eat three full meals a day, explore a new part of Cape Town while walking to the beach, and swimming in a swimming pool. For many of the children these are not luxuries they are accustomed to in their daily lives. 
For us, camp simply reinforced the value P.A.B. brings to the community of Lavender Hill- and they are just starting. Founded only 2 years ago, they were able to gather 86 children who need support and bring them to camp. Just imagine what the next 2 years can bring. They still need support, because as they get bigger and expand their group, they will need more volunteers, better vehicles and more money to really make the impact that they are capable of. 
Leaving South Africa for me was extremely difficult as I feel that I have left my family and my home. I feel truly lucky to have been given the opportunity to learn from these unique and special people. The people we met and lessons they taught us are ones that will stick with us forever. I have no doubt that it is only a matter of time before I am back in SA working with Philisa. It is the type of place you just can’t stay away from!
Please feel free to email me and ask any questions, at