South Africa

Main Features

  • Orientation in Cape Town.
  • Introduction to local language, customs & culture.
  • Accommodation with a local family or on the project site.
  • Projects:  Community Development, Education, Childcare, Conservation, Enviorment.
  • From 4 to 24 weeks.
Music

Volunteering in South Africa gives participants a first hand experience of a new nation working towards a vision of unity and prosperity. Many serious problems need to be tackled if this vision is to be realised. Projects relating to community development, education, the enviornment and conservation help to tackle issues of poverty and inequality, and this is where volunteers can make a real contribution. There are many important volunteer projects available, mostly near the beautiful city of Cape Town.

 

There are many interesting projects available in the categories listed below. The projects given here are an example of the projects in each category. Our goal is to match the skills and expectations of the participants with the needs of the local projects. Our volunteer coordinator in the field will suggest a project for you once they have your application. They are well placed to match your skills and interests to the right placements.

Community Development

In recent years there have been numerous new projects set up with the aim of redressing the damages of Apartheid and supporting the budding South African democracy at local level. Volunteers work with a variety of registered non profit organisations specialising in running structured programmes addressing important social issues such as poverty, education, HIV and AIDS and youth development. Specific projects of the Community Outreach Initiative include:

HIV and Sexual Health Youth Outreach -  established and run by experienced local health workers who are close to the heartbeat of their communities with a passion to make a difference. Awareness raising outreach programmes such as workshops in community centres, schools and churchs aim to reach young people with information to prevent the spread of disease and support people living with HIV to live long and healthy lives through knowledge of ARV use and nutrition.

The Container Programme - old shipping containers are converted into vital community structures. Since 1993, 175 of these containers have been recycled, refurbished and placed in poor communities throughout Southern Africa.

Special Campaigns are run during the year and these include the annual outing to the sea for local children as well as bread distribution/ food parcels to the communities.

Mandela Day Library Project turns recycled containers into reading rooms for local children in communities.

What can volunteers expect to do?

Volunteers will be based in the projects office in Cape Town and will be working alongside project managers and staff.  The placement involves organisation, fieldwork and administration and volunteers play a vital role in providing supporting services to the existing staff. Volunteers with initiative have scope on these projects to share their skills with their project collegues to increase the sustainability of the project. You also have an opportunity to learn about community development from experienced people working on the ground.

 Tasks and activities could include:

  • Awareness programmes
  • General Administration tasks 
  • Packaging of food parcels and bread distribution
  • Furnishing and beautifying recycled containers
  • General upkeep of facilities
  • Helping out on the Beach outreach programme (only two weeks during summer period)
  • Playing games & interactive activities
  • Assisting with reading and library programmes

Education

The South African National Education System is facing enormous challenges and needs support specifically in poorer and rural communities.  Challenges include over-crowded classrooms, limited resources and over-extended staff.  The current educational crisis sees children not receiving equal opportunities to learn, grow and develop.  Over 1 million households in South Africa have illiterate adults, this coupled with lack of regular and structured recreational sport at primary and high school level, overcrowding (55-70 children per class) lack of libraries, computers, satisfactory toilet facilities and special needs teachers all contribute to an already over-stretched system.  Volunteers are encouraged to support local teachers in public schools in the hope of providing a brighter future for its children.  The programme includes supporting academic, sporting and life skills programmes at primary and high school level. 

What can volunteers expect to do? 

This is a very hands-on programme and volunteers will be expected to assist as teacher aids in classrooms on a daily basis.  The schools range from city based schools in historically disadvantaged communities to rural based schools.  

What specific tasks and activities are involved?

  • Assisting with teaching in classrooms
  • Beautifying and fixing up of classrooms
  • Assisting with sport and art activities
  • Providing extra classes for learners struggling with reading and mathematics
  • Teaching computer literacy
  • Setting up and organising library facility
  • Assisting with home-work
  • Providing support with projects run at the school during the time of placement
  • Please note that education projects do not run all year due to school holidays. Please check with EIL for further details.

Early Childhood Development

Projects in this category focus on the development of children cared for at local crèches and pre-schools.  Children catered for at crèches ranges from the ages of baby’s to toddlers between the ages 3 to 6 year olds.  International research reveals that “regardless of cultural distinction or level of development, it is that pre-school education for children greatly improves their chances of subsequent success in school. In particular, early childhood education can make a critical difference in the lives of disadvantaged children.”

In the South African context, there are many home-based crèches.  These are sometimes started by mothers in the community who provide day care facilities to working parents in the community.  Most of the home-based crèches are informal and do not offer formal structured learning for little ones.  Volunteers can make a tremendous impact by assisting with facilitation of better organisation within the facility as well as providing useful help in terms of offering learning ideas for children at a young age. 

What can volunteers expect to do?

Volunteers will have the opportunity to work alongside local caregivers and crèche staff and provide assistance in terms caring for babies and toddlers as well as pre-schoolers.  This is a fun environment to work in, as volunteers will be working hands-on and assist wherever help is needed at the time.

What specific tasks and activities are involved?

  • Bathing, feeding and caring for babies
  • Playing and interacting with children
  • Assist with lesson times, sing-along’s and storytelling
  • Provide support and assistance in terms of organising daily programme
  • Arrange a fieldtrip during the placement and accompany staff
  • Provide ideas and assist with fundraising initiatives
  • Beautifying of facility
  • Assist staff with annual projects (example end of year parties)
  • Assist with general upkeep 

Environment

Typically these projects offer environmental education camps for children and youth, as well as outreach and awareness programmes for children from impoverished communities in South Africa. These camps are aimed at making children more aware and responsible for their own local environments. Volunteers are based close to the environmental centre and will assist with running of the environmental education camps for children and youth. This could include outdoor hikes on the nature reserve, educational lessons and overnight camping out with the children. The outreach activities would involve going to poorer schools to assist with the Eco-Schools Programme. Maintenance and upkeep of the facilities, as well as painting and beautifying of the educational resource centre could also form part of the volunteer tasks.

Tasks and activities could include:

  • Assisting and facilitation on environmental education camps for children and youth
  • Assisting with the Eco-Schools programme
  • Upgrading of resource centre
  • Painting of walls and murals
  • General upkeep of facilities

Wildlife

Lion research and conservation education

The project is funded through eco-tourism and is based in a wildlife lodge in Limpopo. The project is dedicated to conserving African Lions and Cheetahs and is renowned for the unusually good health of its animals. Lodge guests can learn about Lion conservation. Volunteers duties include feeding and caring for young lions and working with the rangers.  Research from zoology departments in major university into the high health of these animals aims to find a cure for TB in wildlife to preserve the Lion for the future. Releasing established prides of lions and cheetahs into the wild is a goal of this project.

Form more information see our full page description with start dates, prices and photos here.

Rhino & Elephant Project

The project is run on a vast, rugged reserve in the north of Limpopo. The project is dedicated to conserving rhinos and elephants through active tracking, locating and monitoring on a daily basis on this 40 000 acre reserve.

For more information see our full page description with photos here.

Arrival & Orientation

You will arrive in Cape Town International Airport and will be picked up at arrivals and transferred to a high quality hostel where you will stay for the first 2-3 days while you have your orientation to South Africa. The purpose of the orientation is to give you an understanding of the people, history, culture, languages, and political climate of South Africa. It will also give you the necessary travel, safety and medical advice, as well as advice on how to prepare for the upcoming volunteer project.

Accommodation

During the orientation, you will stay at a hostel in Cape Town where all your transport and meal costs are covered.

Accommodation while on volunteer placement is generally with a host family, with meals provided by the family. Some projects (such as the wildlife project) have shared volunteer accommodation on site. Volunteers living with a host family are quickly integrated into the local community, and this is a unique opportunity to experience everyday life in South Africa. 

Start dates

21/07, 04/08, 18/08, 01/09, 15/09, 29/09, 13/10, 27/10, 10/11, 24/11, 08/12, 22/12

Visas

If you are staying less than 90 days, you will be issued a tourist stamp on arrival together with a volunteer endorsement.  If you are staying longer than 90 days, you need to apply for a volunteer visa.

The EIL Development Education Network

Our volunteers work and live alongside local people in local communities in some of the most deprived areas in the world. It is in response to their experiences that the EIL development education programme was set up. On their return to Ireland we ask our volunteers to be the voice for the stories of the people they worked with and to highlight their experience of equality and social justice. Then together we campaign to make a difference by promoting global justice, human rights, fair trade, debt relief, enviornmental sustainability and greater equality and respect among the peoples of the world. Our goal is to see global justice and equality reach the top of the Irish agenda.

The Application Process

Applying for the Volunteer Abroad programme is a straight forward process: after receiving your application and CV we will contact you to find out more about your interests and motivation for wanting to be a volunteer. We then send your information to our colleagues in the country of your choice and they make your placement. As soon as they confirm a suitable placement for you, we will send you all the information necessary to finalise your preparations. Although some countries can accept late applications, you should send your completed application 12 weeks in advance. The earlier you apply, the more time we have to find the most suitable project for you.

What you need to do:

  • Complete the application form and send it to us together with 2 recent passport photos, €350 deposit, and recent CV.
  • Do a telephone interview (or in person if you live in Cork and/or want to call in).
  • A confirmation letter of enrolment will then be sent within 10 working days.

If you prefer we can send you the application form by post.

For more information about applying to volunteer with EIL please see How do I apply? 

We guarantee no hidden costs.

We encourage you to compare our costs with other organisations  and a careful comparison of what is included and what is not included is always advisable.

What Is Included

  • Pre-departure information and 2 day preparation workshop
  • Airport pick up
  • Placement in project
  • Meals and accommodation for the duration of the project placement
  • 2-3 day orientation in Cape Town
  • Accommodation, food & transport costs covered during orientation
  • Transfer to host family/project after orientation
  • Full assistance and back-up support for the duration of the programme
  • Debrief workshop on return to Ireland
  • Invitation to join the EIL Development Education Network

What Is Not Included

  • Cost of flights
  • Medical, liability and travel insurance (available for €10 per week)
  • Personal expenses
  • Visa costs (if applicable)

Costs

  • 4 weeks: €1,499
  • 6 weeks: €1,749
  • 8 weeks: €1,949
  • 10 weeks: €2,099
  • 12 weeks: €2,299
  • 16 weeks: €2,799

Medical, liability and travel insurance available for €10 per week.

Prices are subject to change.

Visit our WHY PAY? and FUNDRAISING pages.

 

World AIDS Day is commemorated across the globe every December 1 in a bid to highlight awareness of the disease, show support for those living with it and remember those who have died from the illness. World AIDS Day is the longest running health commemorative day. The theme of World aids Day 2014 in South Africa is “I can’t change my HIV status, but you can change your attitude”. This year’s theme is all about addressing HIV related stigma and discrimination in South Africa. The tagline challenges people to reflect on their attitude towards people living with HIV and if it is a negative one...
kayamandi
My introduction to Kayamandi Township left quite the impression on me and also left me asking myself if I had made the right decision to make the place my home for 6 weeks. Large flames ripping through the evening sky could be seen from a fair distance out on approach as my driver pointed out quite calmly: “That’s where you are going!” A fire had spread through 25 informal dwellings or ’shacks’ and as the black smoke filled the air, a scene like no other I had ever witnessed was created right before my eyes as panic and despair spread throughout the community faster than the fire itself. I...
16 Days of Activism
AIDS was discovered in 1981. HIV the virus that causes it was discovered in 1983. It affects about 1% of the world’s population. Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland) has about 4% of the world’s population, but about 50% of the world’s HIV infected people. In global terms, it is important to respect that HIV/AIDS is a different problem in Africa compared to the rest of the world. However, the problem is also vastly different within different countries in Africa. 20 years ago, contracting the virus was a death sentence. Now, an early diagnosis and adherence...
Xhosa
It is clear from my time in Kayamandi that the Xhosa people are very proud of their customs and traditions which are well recognised by the community. One such tradition that was topical during my stay was the manhood ritual involving circumcision, known locally as the time that young boys ‘go to the bush’. It’s a type of ritual that marks the transition from childhood to manhood. The custom lasts several weeks and involves ceremonial parades throughout the township of boys usually between the age of 18 – 20, before they are accompanied to the bush by a mentor, usually a relative, for the...
Amazink Live
I had seen the hand-painted signs offering directions to ‘Amazink Live’ and walking along the dusty winding streets of Kayamandi I was often asked by locals, concerned that I had lost my way, “Are you looking for Amazink?” Although at the time I didn’t know what Amazink was, I never tired of seeing the reactions when I would simply reply: “No, I live here”. I asked around and some locals seemed to be in the same boat as myself and didn’t know what I was talking about. Some people told me it was a restaurant, some said it was a theatre, others said it was a kind of musical concert. There was...
16 Days of Activism solidarity ribbon
During my time in Kayamandi Township, volunteering my skills as a Registered General Nurse with local NGO healthcare projects, I was privileged to be invited to an event celebrating the 16 Days of Activism Campaign hosted by Kayamandi Women and Children’s Development Project. The event took place in the Ikhaya Trust Centre in Kayamandi on 5 December 2014, and was supported by Western Cape Government. Kayamandi is a historically disadvantaged black community consisting of around 75 000 people who mostly live in informal housing or ‘shacks’. Crime within the community is rife and there are high...
Mpomothseng in Kayelicha
After visiting the District 6 museum to learn the origins of the Cape Town townships I was lucky enough to spend time in a few of them and meet some industrious residents there. The first township I visited was Langa, the oldest township in Cape Town. Nelson, 29, (Xhosa name: Lwazi, meaning ‘knowledge’), a resident of Langa all his life showed me around. He says it makes sense that he enjoys telling people about the place he lives in, given the meaning of his Xhosa name. He told us about his favourite South African dish, the ‘smiley’, a barbecued whole sheep’s head which is a real favourite...
Embroidered display
Having settled into Cape Town I have been thinking about what a rich tapestry of culture there is here. There are layers upon layers in this place. Everyone seems to be well turned into their origins and what has brought South Africa to where it is now. The influences of the Dutch and British settlers is very evident in architecture and the sound of language. The Dutch ruled for 150 years from about 1650 to 1800 bringing with them slaves from Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia. The people who were brought in from around the world intermingled with the indigenous Khoisan...
Jamestown CTEET
Where did I stay, who did I meet? My time in Cape Town feels like a whirlwind. I saw some wonderful projects, met some inspiring people and stayed in some wonderfully welcoming homes. A few characters stick out in my mind… I began my journey at a home stay in the community of Retreat, where I received a warm welcome from Mary and Elroy. Mary and Elroy live in Grassy Park, Retreat, which is a tranquil community south of the city centre of Cape Town. The volunteers who stay with Mary and Elroy spend their project time at the enviornmental education project in the area. Mary works in the office...
Una Deasy recently joined the EIL team as the new manager of the Global Volunteers Team. Having spent the last few years of her career working with Trocaire and supporting volunteers in the SVP Una was exciting to start this new challenge; “I truly believe that volunteers are the best of us, they are what makes society work and I am looking forward to the opportunity to support them. This gives me the chance to combine my love of working with volunteers with my passion for global justice. I have been lucky enough to have travelled to more than 40 countries including 3 volunteer trips and had...
Recently, I volunteered for eight weeks with an NGO named Setjhaba Youth Awareness (SYA) in Kayamandi. Kayamandi is a township of Stellenbosch and is located 50 kilometres from Capetown in South Africa. Currently, 12% of the South African population is living with HIV. The prevalence of the virus in this township stands at 30%. SYA aims to provide health education in the areas of HIV and AIDS, T.B, STIs and teenage pregnancy. The names of the women who run the NGO are Nonyameko Monaheng and Vuyokazi Ncgwembe, locals of this community. These women are passionate about raising awareness of...
Today I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting a centre named Huiz Horizon. Huiz Horizon is a residential and day centre for adults with learning difficulties. It is part funded by the South African Department of Social Development and it also relies on donations from the national and international community. Huiz Horizon holds a bi-annual fête where the craft work of the residents is sold to the general public. These fêtes can raise up to R200,000 or over €14,000. I was interested in visiting this centre as I am involved in a similar type of work in Ireland. I teach in special schools...

Pages