COP17: ‘exhausting but wonderful’

2011-12-09 14:19

Being part of the COP17 climate change meeting in Durban was a wonderful experience, conference volunteer workers said today.

“We thought we would have a tough time because the conference is attended by bigwigs, but we have enjoyed every minute,” Mxolisi Thabethe said on the last day of the event.

Thabethe was one of scores of volunteers who helped delegates navigate the conference venues and the city since the start of the climate summit two weeks ago.

A few got to shake hands with figures such as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and national presidents.

“These people have been very nice to us. I have no doubt they valued the assistance we rendered to them,” Thabethe said.

Vukile Majola, another volunteer, said: “I had a wonderful experience. It has been a valuable experience and I don’t regret doing it.”

Although he had been posted at the exhibition area to help delegates, some asked him to accompany them to destinations such as local malls and other tourist attractions.

“Today I took delegates to Gateway mall and Moses Mabhida Stadium’s cable car. They enjoyed it and they thanked me for what I did for them.”

Majola, a second-year project management student at the University of South Africa, said some delegates he helped gave him money.

“I told them not to give me money, but they insisted until I took it.”

Volunteers were paid R180 per day.

“Even if we were not paid I would have still enjoyed it. The experience we had is huge.”

Thabethe said he enjoyed giving delegates information about Durban.

“They asked a lot of questions. They expected us to give them information about street names, buildings and also the history of our city. You have to be knowledgeable.”

Nicole Smith said working during the conference, which started on November 28, was exhausting. “I am happy it is over.

It was very tiring because we had to stand the whole day. The experience was good though,” she said.

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