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Volunteer in Cape Town

Volunteering in Cape Town is the perfect way to discover South Africa's "Mother City" from a different point of view...

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Volunteer work Cape Town

Cape Town, or “Africa’s Mother City”, is located in the Western Cape of South Africa, which is said to be one of the most beautiful locations worldwide. The city is widely known for its stunning nature, the Table Mountain, and the Cape Point. In 2014, Cape Town was announced to be the best place in the world to visit by both the New York Times and the British Daily Telegraph. There are many different places to volunteer in Cape Town such as volunteering with children, working in community service, volunteering with South African animals or if you love sports, especially surfing, volunteering as a surfing instructor for unprivileged children.

🦒 General Facts & Figures about Cape Town

Cape Town attracts flocks of tourists on a yearly basis for good reason. It's a melting pot of cultures, boasting some stellar landscapes due to its prime location by the South Atlantic Ocean. Besides being every traveler's dream, it's also a great place to volunteer and give back to the community. Before we go into more detail on the various volunteer opportunities, let's take a look at some interesting facts about Cape Town.

  • Cape Town’s most famous landmark ‘The Castle of Good Hope’ is the oldest colonial building in South Africa.
  • The Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest and richest floral area in the world and was declared World Cultural Heritage.
  • 25 km away from Cape Town’s city center, Africa’s only sled run is located, which is named after the movie ‘Cool Runnings’.
  • Every month two couples say ‘yes’ to each other on the top of the Table Mountain.
  • Lion’s Head has not seen a lion for over 200 years.

🐧 What Are the Volunteer Opportunities in Cape Town?

There are many places to volunteer in Cape Town. Whether you love animals or prefer working with children in local communities, there is the right project for you. Think about how many days or weeks you want to dedicate to volunteering and check the options!

👩🏾‍🤝‍👩🏼 How to Volunteer and Teach in Cape Town

There are a great number of different places to volunteer in Cape Town that are focused on childcare. One project focus while volunteering in Cape Town is primary school teaching. The children at primary schools are six to 13 years old and the teaching will primarily be English language training but can also include basic level math, arts, and science.

Even though South Africa is a nation with huge potential, many children do not receive the education they need. Quality education largely depends on how well off families are. A great number of townships face problems like limited resources and drug abuse, which makes education all the more important for the children to escape the vicious cycle of poverty. Volunteer work in Cape Town at a primary school might include the following activities:

  • assisting teachers in the classroom
  • the possibility of teaching a class without supervision
  • assisting the slower learners
  • contributing to activities such as arts or sports
  • creating after-school activities

⭐ How to Volunteer for Special Needs in Cape Town

Other voluntary fields that need the helping hand of volunteers are children and people with special needs. As children with special needs are often very young and volunteers become more of an attachment figure, it is necessary to have professional experience and the skills to work with young children. Typical tasks with children and adults with special needs might be:.

  • teaching classes
  • feeding children
  • stimulating the mind
  • physiotherapy
  • supporting people with disabilities to live independently
  • being part of a community
  • gaining skills to generating an income (making arts and crafts items)
  • social interaction with clients and assisting in client-related activities
  • helping out in the kitchen and garden
  • telling residents stories about your culture and travels to help them explore the world despite their physical challenges

👩🏾‍🤝‍👩🏼 How to Support Community Services in Cape Town

Another way to help the locals as a volunteer in Cape Town is to be part of community projects which support the people in less fortunate areas of the city. In these communities, most people have insufficient income and the poverty rate is high. Voluntary work in Cape Town in projects like these is desperately needed. As a community volunteer, there are several community projects in Cape Town to choose:

  • helping with food preparation and handing out meals to the people of the community
  • working to support the foster care
  • assisting at learning centers and preschools for neglected children
  • assisting at local hospitals to help people who recover from substance abuse
  • assisting gardening teams with agricultural work

Working in community projects is the perfect way for volunteers to really get in contact with and experience life in the local communities. Volunteers in Cape Town, will help where it is most needed and learn a lot about the culture and the people.

🎾 How to Join a Sports Volunteer Project in Cape Town

A totally different way to volunteer in Cape Town is to participate in sports projects. The goals of these kinds of projects are to give underprivileged children a positive free-time activity and learning experience. It's one of the best ways to establish a life without crime and drugs in South Africa. The sports culture is used as a successful tool for change.

In order to work with as many children as possible and guarantee the safety of all participants, sports volunteers are in high demand. If you love surfing, skateboarding, volleyball, hockey, or football and want to be part of an amazing team, a sports project in Cape Town is perfect for you.

If you want to volunteer in Cape Town in sports projects, you will work with children from poor areas and teach them different kinds of sports. This has proven to be a very effective way to provide marginalized groups with opportunities for healthy, constructive recreational activities in safe environments. Sports projects provide a unique opportunity for volunteers to experience the local communities up-close and learn more about South African culture.

🐳 How to Volunteer for Marine Conservation in Cape Town

Volunteer programs in Cape Town combine the best aspects of volunteering and traveling. Marine conservation projects in South Africa are both informative and fun. You get the chance to learn about the coastal and marine ecosystem, the ecology and the factors affecting our oceans.

As a volunteer in Cape Town for marine life, you will also receive a deeper understanding of marine animals such as whales, dolphins, sharks, and others. Especially, volunteer work in Cape Town at a shark conservation project, where you can work with species like the South African great white shark can be an exciting experience. When joining voluntary work in Cape Town for marine conservation your tasks may include:

  • learning about marine conservation in South Africa
  • getting involved with regional marine conservation projects
  • learning about the perpetual threats to ecosystems and the environment
  • developing an appreciation for the coastal and marine ecosystems and their inhabitants
  • observing marine animals in their natural habitat
  • assisting with gathering important data on white sharks
  • learning ethical handling and angling techniques of smaller sharks
  • learning how to tag and take genetic samples
  • participating in community events

🩺 How to Volunteer for Healthcare in Cape Town

Joining any medical volunteer project in Cape Town is a great way to do something meaningful while gaining practical experience. As a volunteer in Cape Town, you will gain a lot of experience in healthcare in a very different work environment. Depending on your knowledge and qualification, your medical volunteer work in Cape Town can range from working closely with the patients to assisting the staff within the clinic or shadowing doctors. Are you ready for your medical mission trip?

If you are a trained doctor, nurse, medical student or pre-med, you will be able to get hands-on and support the doctors in hospitals, small clinics, and health centers. Some of the areas where specialized help is needed are:

  • dentistry
  • general surgery
  • gynecology
  • pediatrics
  • obstetrics
  • child health
  • adolescent health

If you are not a trained professional, there are still many ways you can help. As a medical volunteer in Cape Town, you can support the administrative staff in hospitals and clinics, educate locals about hygiene, illness prevention, nutrition and many other topics.

💡 Good to Know Before Volunteering in Cape Town

When traveling abroad, there are always a few things you should inform yourself and keep in mind. This is useful information about Cape Town that may help you.

Culture & Religion

South Africa is one of the multicultural places in the world. Cape Town also has one of the biggest and most important gay communities worldwide after San Francisco. The lifestyle in Cape Town is more westernized than in the rest of the country, however, most of the locals are religious and might ask questions when you are not.

Where to volunteer in Cape Town?

Cape Town offers a variety of amazing volunteer programs situated all across the stunning coast line, the central city and up into the outlying suburbs. Although most areas are fairly safe to travel to, bare in mind that it’s always important to be vigilant when traveling around in Cape Town.

If you want to take part in a program located at the sea front, but in the outskirts of the bustling city centre, places such as Gordon´s Bay, which is in driving range of central cape Town, or Hout Bay, known for its community village feel, are both beautiful and safe volunteer destinations to travel to. There are plenty of social programs situated further into the inland suburbs, boasting beautiful vineyard landscapes and a plethora of stunning nature scenery, such as the town of Durbanville or Stellenbosh, in the Western Cape Town province.

However, if you are looking to stay somewhere more central, Bloubergrant or the City Centre`s Sea Point, also offer a safe and fun volunteer sea side experience.

🦺 Is it Safe to Volunteer in Cape Town?

Thinking about South Africa and especially Cape Town brings up the topic of safety. Of course, volunteer organizations in Cape Town take the safety of their volunteers very seriously and will inform you about everything you need to know and accompany you whenever necessary. However, the right behavior and common sense are also very important to minimize all risk:

  • Do not walk around alone at night.
  • Do not leave valuables such as cameras etc. visible.
  • Do not wear jewelry openly.
  • If you want to take a taxi, use officially registered vehicles.
  • Most importantly, listen to your project manager’s advice and tips as they know the area best.

Health Advice

Hospitals and other medical facilities in Cape Town generally have a high standard. But hospitals are often overcrowded, so always keep in mind that you need some time. Before you start working as a volunteer in Cape Town, make sure that your medical insurance is valid in foreign countries. Most insurances offer a special contract for the time you spend volunteering abroad. You should also make sure that all your standard vaccinations are up to date and talk to your doctor about any additional vaccinations you might need for a volunteer trip to Cape Town.

🧐 Who Can Volunteer in Cape Town?

There are many different volunteer organizations in Cape Town that expect different skills and abilities from their volunteers. While you can find out the specific requirements for each project on their program page, here are some general requirements that apply to most volunteer projects in Cape Town:

  • You need to be at least 18 years old for most volunteer projects. When in doubt, we advise you to get in contact with the local project manager, as in some projects you can also volunteer when you're 16 years old. Also, there’s no age limit upwards: just check the 50+ icon on the program pages.
  • You need to have basic English skills to join a volunteer project in Cape Town. Please note that some teaching projects may require advanced skills.
  • Depending on the volunteer project you're interested in, you might need to provide a criminal background check and a health declaration before volunteering.
  • You are more than welcome to bring your friends or family to volunteer for the social project. Just contact the project manager and ask them for the available opportunities.