Engagement and mentoring changes lives in South Africa

Name: Ian Sulcer

Volunteer DestinationSouth Africa

Volunteer Ian Sulcer with kids in South Africa
Ian’s dedication and passion for helping at-risk youth has left a lasting impact on the lives of the South African children he worked with.

Ian Sulcer wanted to dedicate his life to helping children at-risk of dropping out of school, using drugs, or struggling with behavior and discipline issues. Utopia Volunteers (UV) Executive Director Debbi Asuncion and Dreamcatcher, a UV partner organization in South Africa, organized a program for Ian that would let him develop an engagement and therapy model to use with at-risk youth in South Africa.

Ian immersed himself fully in the experience and gave everything he could to the kids he was working with, finding enrichment and direction that would help guide his future service.

After Ian’s volunteer experience, Dreamcatcher reported that his time profoundly transformed the lives of two at-risk boys.

One troubled 10-year old boy who Ian mentored for three months was recently elected class captain, significantly improved his grades and attitude, and was even nominated the best cricket player on his team. His 16-year old brother who was under-performing at school, missing many classes, and facing constant pressure by peers to use drugs, has found focus and a new lease on life from his litter brother’s example. Witnessing his sibling’s resolve and personal growth, the elder brother has cast off the shackles of anti-social behavior and has set his sights on enrolling for a skills development -and post-school enrichment course for high-school drop out youth.

Well done Ian — your legacy is alive!

During his time volunteering, Ian wrote this about his experience:

“At the start of my volunteering journey I felt as though I had too much responsibility. I thought I needed some direction, or else I would go through the 3 months without anything of merit to show on the other side. However once I was able to find my bearings, orientate and dedicate myself to making something happen, I was able to take charge of my own experience and create something beautiful. I know that I made the right choice in placement and, go figure, it wasn’t for the reasons that had expected. … I have been forced for these months to take control of the work that I do, to think about what kind of experience I want to want to have, and to make it happen. As it turns out, I am getting exactly what I needed out of this experience in order to learn and to grow into the kind of man that I want to be in a way that was wholly unexpected and completely perfect.”