Volunteer Feedback

Read the personal experiences of our volunteers.


We are grateful to the group of volunteers who spend time with the little lives we change by helping with hospital forms, enjoying play & learning time together and a multitude of valuable tasks that are absolutely necessary to make a positive impact on these little lives.

Expand each section to read more feedback!

Lorna Blackwell

NAME & SURNAME: Lorna Blackwell
NAME OF PROGRAM:   Job Shadowing
OCCUPATION: Registered Homeopath
AGE: 26


1. When did you start volunteering for SFLL?

My first volunteering project for SFLL was on 27th October 2020.

2. What made you want to get involved with SFLL?

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be “behind the scenes” of the amazing work you SFLLS does!

I am a Registered Homeopath. Currently in my household it’s just me and my partner. But I have a wonderful mom and dad, and a younger brother. My wish for SFLL is that it just keeps getting bigger and bigger in all ways possible! I hope you get so much funding, volunteers, milk donations, more more MORE!

Sarah-Rose Friend

NAME & SURNAME: Sarah-Rose Friend
NAME OF SCHOOL: Andrew’s School for Girls
AGE: 15


1. When did you start volunteering for SFLL?

My first volunteering project for SFLL was on Tuesday, 4 February 2020. Going forward, I would like to continue doing so during school holidays.

2. What made you want to get involved with SFLL?

My love for medicine and to help those less fortunate has always been in the forefront of my mind, so my application to Surgeons for Little Lives to job shadow a Paediatric Surgeon was my goal.

I was given the opportunity to sit in on the morning meeting where individual cases and the required treatments for each, were discussed. Senior Consultants and Specialists contributed to this discussion and jointly the best solutions were found.

Next up was the ward rounds of the Burns Unit, Maternity Ward, SFLL Sleep Over Unit and Ward 23 -Surgery.

I was alarmed at the number of children with burns, some minor that will heal completely and some severe with lifetime damage caused.

The incubators providing support to newly born babies, some prematurely or with difficulties experienced through child birth, was extremely interesting. Advanced technology is amazing and where would we be without it?

I was fortunate to witness two surgeries first hand and was amazed at how intricate each was. To experience the commitment, dedication and passion the surgeons had for the well-being of each patient, was mind blowing. They handled each operation with extreme care and the results spoke for themselves.

3. Where do you focus your efforts when it comes to SFLL / what do you do for SFLL?

I would like to continue volunteering at SFLL during school holidays and to gain more experience in this field. My focus would be in surgery and working with the amazing doctors of this unit.

4. Do you have a career / if so, what is that career?

I am still at school, and this year had to choose my subjects for the career I would like to follow. Ideally, and if accepted, I would like to follow a career in medicine to assist those less fortunate and without medical aid support but in need of special care.

5. Do you have a family. Tell us more

I am an only child and come from a very supportive and loving home where I stay with my Dad and Mom. I am privileged and extremely grateful to be able to attend a private school and to receive an excellent education which will stand me in good stead for my tertiary education to come.

I am a competitive equestrian showjumper, play club hockey, am a junior member of a NPO charity and enjoy the outdoors and spending time with my two dogs.

6. What is your greatest wish for SFLL?

To receive the required funding so badly needed for new equipment, medical supplies, etc to continue with the amazing work the founders, doctors and this unit are providing to all in need

Market this wonderful unit far and wide and encourage more people to volunteer their time and assist in every aspect of this field. Ongoing donor funding through registered corporations who have a commitment to uplifting the future of our country and the work doctors are providing free of remuneration.


Elisabeth Ledwaba

NAME & SURNAME: Elisabeth Ledwaba
NAME OF PROGRAM:  Volunteering – Community Service and Job Shadow
GRADE: Dagestan State Medical University, 1st year student


My name is Matipa Elisabeth Ledwaba. I am a pre-medical student at Dagestan State Medical University in Makhachkala, Russia. I started volunteering at Surgeons for Little Lives in February this year as it is aligned to my career path – saving lives.

I am 18 years old and was raised by a single parent (from aged 7) who, at the time of my father’s death, was unemployed. Growing up things were not easy and my siblings and I went through trying times over the years. When I was 11 years old, things changed as my mother found a stable job at the Department of Education after going back to school to get her degree. She is a strong woman and we were able to face the challenges together with her – we are stronger because of her.

Being here at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital has made me realise how lucky I am and seeing babies and children being admitted at such a tender age has taught me to be grateful for my life. Moreover, I would like to see every one of these kids discharged from hospital better and stronger than they were before they were admitted, so I hope Surgeons for Little Lives keeps doing the wonderful job they are doing, and that they receive the assistance and donations needed to continue with their work. Thumbs up to Surgeons for Little Lives!

Hilton College Visit to the Chris Hani Baragwaneth Hospital

NAME & SURNAME: Thomas de Beer
NAME OF PROGRAM:  Hilton College Johannesburg Academic Tour 2018
GRADE: Grade 11 student at Hilton College


On behalf of Hilton College, the boys and the staff I would like to thank all of you for being such great hosts on our trip to your amazing Hospital.

Our time at Baragwanath Hospital last week has been highlighted as one of the best visits of the entire tour. We would like to thank you for hosting the boys and for taking time out of you busy schedules to talk to us about what you do and how to get where you are today.

It gave great insight to the life of a doctor and allowed boys to understand what it means to work hard and work towards a goal. The stories you told us will stay with us forvever and these stories are stories of motivation for hard work.

Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity of a lifetime.

Abbey Sooku's Experience

NAME & SURNAME: Abbey Sooku
NAME OF PROGRAM: Community Service and Job shadowing
GRADE: Grade 9 student at St Stithians College


Thank you so much for the opportunity to complete community service hours with Surgeons for little lives. I really enjoyed being of service and felt that my efforts were appreciated. Everyone at Surgeons for little lives cares so much.

I packed care packs for new moms from bags and bags of clothes, it was similar to a “shopping trip” with a difference. A few weeks later when I job shadowed, and saw first-hand how these packs were used, how necessary they were and how much they were appreciated made it all so worthwhile. It truly became a humbling experience and I am determined to spend more of my time helping out.

Thank you so much.

Saxon Leathwhite's Experience

NAME & SURNAME: Saxon Leathwhite
NAME OF PROGRAM: Job shadowing
GRADE: Grade 11 student at Roedean


Dear Doctors, Nurses and everyone that made my job shadowing experience possible

I want to thank you so much for the time that you afforded me in the Baragwanath paediatric surgery unit.

It was an incredible experience and one that I will truly never forget. I loved every part of the experience from going through patients case files, to witnessing 6 operations and attending your feedback meetings. I truly felt so welcomed and immersed in the profession from day one and always felt comfortable to ask questions as I knew that I would get a response without any criticism.

Thank you so much for your help and time that allowed me to finish this task. I left Bara feeling inspired by the work that you do and a new sense of motivation to possibly pursue this career path.

Jessica Paul's Experience

NAME & SURNAME: Jessica Paul


After completing my Honours degree in Psychology last year, I decided to take some time this year to get involved in volunteer and community engagement experiences.

Having joined the Surgeons for Little Lives team in February, I have been able to take part in a number of activities and experiences at Baragwanath Hospital. I have been involved in the expressive arts programme offered by Jan which takes place in the paediatric burns unit. Not only do the kids love this time, but I thoroughly enjoy interacting with the kids, teaching them new skills and providing them with something fun to do outside of the usual hospital routine.

I have also been assisting Dr Vered Lack with her study (the THINK Study) and I have learnt how to administer psychological tests to children who have had head injuries, as well as score these tests.

Recently, I have begun the process of conducting my own research. This research focuses on the utilisation of the parental sleepover facility provided at the new PSOPD and will investigate how this accommodation has impacted the caregivers who have used it.

In collaboration with Dr Chris Westgarth-Taylor and Dr Catterina Bebington, I have begun offering counselling sessions for stoma clinic patients. These individuals often face body-image and self-confidence issues, and the aim here is to provide someone for these individuals to talk to, develop ways to manage their condition and improve their self-esteem.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time with the charity, and am extremely grateful for the opportunities and support I have been offered. I look forward to the rest of my time here, and the new experiences I will undoubtedly encounter.

Ruth Deolinda's Experience

2bNAME & SURNAME: Ruth Deolinda
NAME OF SCHOOL: University of the Witwatersrand
GRADE: 3rd year Student
AGE: 21
NAME OF PROGRAM:  Job shadowing at CH Baragwanath Hospital


On the 18th December 2017, I had the privilege of shadowing a group of doctors at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in the Paediatric department. During this time, I witnessed a couple of surgical procedures led by Dr. Chris Westgarth-Taylor.

It was one of the most heartfelt moments I’ve ever experienced, the chance to see the lives of children being changed by the hands of mere humans. If I was to be asked what the most stressful part of being a doctor as an observer, it would be the fact that these doctor holds the fate of an infant in his hands. I cannot begin to imagine how it feels to be under the scrutinizing watch of other doctors who are there to learn from the lead doctor.

It indeed was a marvelous experience, it came to me as a bit of a shock while I observed the atmosphere I’m the room. It amazed me to see the cool nature of the doctors as they went on to prepare for the surgeries they were meant to perform. One remarkable behaviour I noticed as I observed Dr. Chris was his never ending happy humour, amidst of the stress of having to operate on a child, he still remained composed and seemingly joyful. A behaviour which, in my opinion, made the environment a lot more bearable and conducive.

Having spoken to other doctors in the theatre, I wondered what kept them going despite what they see, despite the number of patients they may lose on the surgical table, despite the type of health problems or deficits they witness on a daily basis. Having asked them these questions, one answer that stood out for me was simply the fact that they rely on each other. The ability to talk about what they experience on a daily basis and to have a team of people who can so well relate to what they live through is a remarkable observation. It just shows how important it is to have someone to relate to in their line of work. In the midst of the trauma, it’s relieving to know that they have some type of coping mechanism.

Although these doctors have a coping mechanism, it doesn’t escape my mind to suggest another coping mechanism such as a visit for psychological therapy.

Although I have yet to qualify as a psychologist, I strongly believe that seeing a psychologist can help to deal with post-traumatic injuries that these doctors face. Very often we ignore the aftermath of a traumatic event, however, these events have an impact on us one way or another, it may not be today, nor tomorrow, but just as life teaches us, there’s never a better time as the present.

It doesn’t escape my mind that these doctors have been in the field of medicine for a long time and have had to witness a lot more dreadful situations in their line of work as opposed to myself, however, at the end of the day, we are all humans and whichever way we choose to look at it, we have emotions and as such, it is important to never neglect the significance of seeking personal help when we most need it.

Josephine Bezuidenhoudt's Experience

2NAME & SURNAME: Josephine Bezuidenhoudt
NAME OF SCHOOL:  St Mary’s School, Waverly
AGE:  16


I came to learn more about what it is like to be a doctor and what the job entails. I was allowed to watch surgeries up close. This both fascinated and inspired me. This opportunity also allowed me to talk to the doctors about how they balance their lives with such a demanding job.

Ruvimbo Chiswo's Experience

2cNAME & SURNAME:  Ruvimbo Chiswo
NAME OF SCHOOL:  Wits University
AGE: 19


I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Surgeons for Little Lives. The Surgeons were really friendly and allowed participation at a level that I could not get elsewhere. An amazing opportunity.

Kelli Jade Frew's Experience

2aNAME & SURNAME:    Kelli Jade Frew
NAME OF SCHOOL:    Roedean School (SA)
AGE: 15

A Truly motivating experience. I’ve always wanted to study medicine and this experience gave me the extra boost to make me want to study hard and follow through with my dreams of studying medicine.

Abigail Welthagen's Experience

AbbyNAME & SURNAME:    Abigail Welthagen
NAME OF SCHOOL:    NWU Potchefstroom
GRADE: 2nd year student
AGE: 19
NAME OF PROGRAM: New PSOPD and maternal facility


Volunteering at Surgeons for little lives and helping with making the beds in the new PSOPD & Maternal Facility was such a rewarding experience, knowing that I am contributing to such a unique project.

It’s unique because very few Paediatric units in other hospitals take the social circumstances of the mothers of patients into consideration.   Many of the parents travel long distances to get the necessary medical help for their children but once the kiddy is admitted they don’t have anywhere to stay.  

I enjoyed my time volunteering at Surgeons for little lives and would do it again. I would also urge others to join as well.