The gentle English accent might fool you, but Theo is fluent in Afrikaans. In fact, he and his family speak nothing else when they are ‘home alone’ in Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, north of London. His surname is the giveaway: the Bredell family hails from Bethlehem in the Free State and moved to the UK in 2009. Theo did all of his schooling in England and has been accepted to study medicine at St Andrew’s University later this year. Fellow congregants at the local church in Sharnbrook are South Africans and it was through the wife’s parents, Morningside residents, Gary and Sandy van Vuuren, on a visit to see their family, that Theo came to hear about The Domino Foundation. The aspiring medico was planning a trip to visit family in South Africa and was invited to stay with the van Vuurens in Durban. There Theo met Shaun Tait, Domino’s CEO, who suggested the young Englishman spend time as a volunteer with the foundation.
He has landed himself a heavy schedule working with several of the programmes at Domino, taking part in many aspects of Domino’s work: sandwich-making; food deliveries; preparation of hygiene kits and emergency relief hampers; data-capture and even visiting the Babies’ Home to spend time with the infants and toddlers! “Perhaps this is where my ambition to become a doctor is showing?” he said. “I want a career with a dynamic balance of academic challenges and helping people from every walk of life. Interacting with these little people and seeing their response when someone takes an interest in them really has gladdened my heart.” Theo joined Domino’s Disaster Relief Unit in a trip to Jozini to distribute hygiene supplies to local communities. Commented Cathy Whittle, DRU’s team leader: “Theo’s participation in this distribution was greatly appreciated by the team and by the beneficiaries.”
When asked whether there might be an ongoing Domino/Sharbrook connection, Theo enthusiastically said: “I really hope there will be!” The van Vuurens echoed that: “Theo has been a delight and his heart to make a difference in people’s live is very evident!” said Sandy. A report-back is on his schedule when he is back home and he said he will definitely be recommending The Domino Foundation as an excellent and rewarding organisation to do voluntary work with.
Esther Madikane, who manages Domino’s volunteer programme said: “We have had a number of international volunteers spend time with us. They always go home deeply impacted by what they see and do here and are always our greatest ambassadors.” She invites anyone, either local or from overseas, who is interested in volunteering with the foundation, to contact her on 031 563 9605 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: English volunteer, Theo Bredell with Domino’s Volunteer Co-Ordinator Esther Madikane.