If South Africa is on your “ to-do “ list of places to visit in 2019, then why not combine a holiday there with some Volunteering. We call this Voluntourism! Voluntourism is a growing trend, not only amongst University and Gap Year students, but amongst older people who have retired early; Baby Boomers and Third Age people. In fact, the trend to volunteering is increasing all the time.
On of the ways to experience a great time in South Africa is to teach English in one of the many Township Schools . They welcome people with good English who are able to participate as a classroom assistant. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any volunteering experience, because you will find many projects happy to welcome you for periods from 2 weeks to up to one year.
One of the more popular places to volunteer is Cape Town. Cape Town is a vibrant, European type City with great contrasts. It is also one of the more safer cities in South Africa. Some people come to Cape Town without any idea of where they can volunteer, but by the end of Day One you will have found lots of opportunities that will fit both your social and professional abilities. Volunteer Projects are ongoing and you don’t need to start at any particular time. They are just happy to receive you.
Local People in South Africa are naturally both curious and friendly. It is best to exercise some caution but most times you will find them happy to help any new person to their City and are also pleased to talk about “ the Mother City” as they call Cape Town. Crime is in certain areas of the city, like all large cities, but if you study the area you want to stay in and ensure you are always careful with money and phones, then you should not have any problems.
A trip to South Africa can be taken at any time. Although their winter tends to be in the European summer, they have bright days when you can experience highs of 20 degrees and that is in the middle of their winter. Rain can be scarce but be prepared for lots of windy days. So long as you check your packing list of what to bring you will be fine, but if you forget anything, don’t worry, Cape Town has everything you need – and more – and more reasonably priced than in other countries in the world.
Your Volunteer placement will be in an area close to where you are staying so it will be easy to attend each day. They will like you to be committed and if you can not give 5 days a week, then maybe it is better than you consider another opportunity. Even though you are giving your time freely, they will still expect you to be professional; reliable and on time. Before you start any volunteer project you will be briefed by your Project Manager who will chat with you about the opportunities available to you. They will take into account your past experience; age and length of stay. One of the more popular placements will be teaching English or Sport in one of the local High Schools. These High Schools are often well equipped but classes are large and so they really do need Classroom Assistants. Sport is very important to South Africans and they play it most days – Winter or Summer, so if you have an interest in sport and can help teach it, then they will be very happy to hear from you.
Another popular placement to Volunteer is the local Animal Sanctuary for lost and unwanted pets. Domestic and Wild. One day you can be walking a dog in the Park and another day rescuing a Baboon from the top of someone’s roof. You can see why this type of Volunteering Project is so much fun! Food Kitchens are always in need of someone to help them prepare meals for large numbers of people each day who rely on these facilities to give them their only hot meal of the day. You will always find this a great environment to work, not only with the people you will cook with but the people who are so happy to have a hot meal.
Finally, there is a great project running at The Sewing Café, where you can help teach local folk to use a sewing machine. This means that they can apply to local factories to make uniforms and sports wear as well as learn how to use the Computer. So if you are useful on either the Computer or the Sewing machine then you should consider this place to Volunteer
Finally, when you come to the end of your placement, you will have made a huge difference to some of the people in South Africa but not only that but you will take away with you some great friends made not only in the Volunteering Projects but also with the people of South Africa that you have helped.