Healthcare Counselling Assistant

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founded in 2006
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Coordinator | sallie
Coordinator | sallie
Volunteer with a community organisation in Port Elizabeth which provides healthcare, nutrition and education to HIV sufferers and vulnerable children and their families. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

About the Program

This program supports Emmanuel Advice and Care Centre, which is a non-profit organisation, based in the KwaNoxolo district of Port Elizabeth.  It was founded in 2003 as a means of addressing the high incidence of HIV and AIDs, and works towards a vision of an AIDs-free community. Emmanuel needs volunteers with appropriate skills and experience to help the staff with:

  • building the administrative capacity of the organisation
  • capacity building for community carers who support HIV sufferers
  • Providing child care for orphans and vulnerable children
  • Requirements

The skills they are looking for are:

  • organisational and administrative skills
  • fundraising, marketing and business skills
  • nurses, health visitors and counsellors
  • nutritionists
  • early childhood development practitioners and pre-school teachers
  • life skills education and development

Why this is important

In their work to support adults and children with or affected by HIV and AIDs in their community, the Emmanuel team carry out home visits to around 300 clients, providing practical support and counselling to families in need as well as running regular support group on issues relating to health and social care. They also run a community crèche and pre-school for around 25 children, and as often as possible a feeding programme provides a meal for these children plus up to 100 additional vulnerable children from the community.

All the care-givers and crèche workers are drawn from the local community and so have a deep understanding of the issues affecting the area.  Many referrals come from people in the community who approach them with concerns about a neighbour; the team at Emmanuel are always there to provide a listening ear to those who regularly drop in with concerns. This has enabled Emmanuel to build a caring organisation which is effective and committed to supporting and empowering adults and children within their community.

Your Role as a Volunteer

Although Emmanuel received funding from the Department of Social Development for the first 10 years of its existence, enabling them to employ paid staff and work with more clients across a wider area, that funding has now ceased and Emmanuel depends totally on donations and self-funded initiatives for its survival.  The entire team now works on a voluntary basis and is a genuine, caring grass-roots organisation, determined to continue providing love and support for their community in very practical, needs-driven ways.

Depending on their skills and experience, volunteers work with staff working with the children in the pre-school, or accompany the caregivers in their visits to families in the community. They may support the local team in their healthcare and counselling work by running workshops to enhance their skills. Or they may use their experience to increase the capacity of the organisation as a whole in their business, marketing or administrative skills. There are many ways volunteer's skills can be used to support this caring organisation.

Typical day

Every day is different!  Volunteers will have a placement outline explaining the focus for their work, but they should expect to be flexible as the staff at the advice and care centre respond to community needs.

If you are a health care volunteer, you will go out with carers, observe, feedback, and maybe offer small insights into medical issues you confronted. You will share admin skills, reporting skills, and you will listen, learn and share. The carers have indicated that they want to know and learn more. It’s scary sometimes how little they know – amazing sometimes how much they know. They know a home remedy for every ailment, but sometimes know little about how the body works, or signs & symptoms of particular illnesses.

You will be a helping hand. You will make them feel recognized just by your presence. You will highlight best practice (of which there is much), and guide on alternatives to poor practice.

If you have counselling skills, you can reinforce knowledge of active listening skills, evaluate support group strategies, talk to and give time to people who walk in looking for an ear, help counsel clients in the community. You will give your time, go out with carers, observe and feedback.

If you have marketing skills you will help Emmanuel get a wider profile - develop marketing materials, help and share skills in writing proposals, write bids for funds.

If you have business skills you can help build the capacity of the management team all of whom have little or no formal training. Previous HR and admin volunteers have given staff at Emmanuel new management tools which help them run the complex beast that is Emmanuel. Management support and organisational development are coming through from volunteers as much needed areas of support, but it is important not to reinvent the wheel – what is needed is help to review and extend systems already in place, not constantly to introduce new ones, as this only causes confusion.

If you have early childhood development skills you will help in the crèche. But you can also give some workshops for carers in terms of advising parents and possibly help to run support sessions for the community on aspects on childcare. You may also organise activities for older children in school holidays.

And if you have people development skills you may be able to help with strengthening the Board, or building better relationships with the Emmanuel Team. 

Free-time activities

This program is based in Port Elizabeth, a lively city on the coast of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.  

Volunteers may want to take advantage of the beautiful beaches, to swim in the sea or take scenic walks along the shoreline. Sports facilities are available in the town and our local partners can give advise on how to join them.  

Alternatively, not far away is Addo Elephant park, and volunteers may want to organise a safari trip there to see the wildlife - again our local partners can advise on the best way to book a trip. 

Some volunteers hire a car and drive a little further afield to explore more of the 'Garden Route'.



In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Criminal Background Check
Required Documents
'Life story' and 'references'
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs as follow:

- organisational and administrative skills
- fundraising, marketing and business skills
- nurses, health visitors and counselors
- nutritionists
- early childhood development practitioners and pre-school teachers
- life skills education and development
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

What's Included

Services by people and places


  • full board home stay
  • airport transfers
  • full local orientation
  • city tour
  • social event
  • local SIM card
  • daily transportation to the project
  • project and placement liaison
  • contribution to the project - previous donations have helped to fund the feeding program, bought essential equipment for the creche and the carers, purchased computer and cooking equipment and funded carer stipends

Airport Pickup at Port Elizabeth International Airport

When you come out of the arrivals hall our local partner will be there to meet you, holding a sign wit your name on it.  You will be taken by car to your accommodation, which is about 30 minutes away.


You will stay with a host family in a safe township community environment in the township of New Brighton.  

The house has a comfortable sitting room with TV, a well equipped kitchen, a bathroom and three bedrooms with storage space, two of which are used by volunteers. There is also a small garden.  

Your host, Miki, is very sociable and a great cook!  Volunteers are made to feel very welcome - this is a home from home.

Alternatively, accommodation in a small guesthouse can be arranged at additional cost.

Bedroom (Single)
Food & Beverages

Breakfast and evening meal ate eaten with your host family.  We do not ask your hosts to suddenly produce a five course meal – rather they should look at adding to their regular pot.

Traditional cooking is basic and tasty and usually encompasses meat (chicken or beef), vegetables and rice or pap served with chakalaka or sauce. Pap is the South African equivalent to the potato – it is ground maize prepared into a fairly bland, firm staple. It is usually served with chakalaka (a sauce relish of tomato, onion, carrots, peppers and spices).  

However if you prefer other types of food, or if you have special dietary requirements, your host will do her best to accommodate you - all you have to do is let her know. 

Lunch on work days is a packed lunch - volunteers usually prepare this themselves.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) in Port Elizabeth. We assist you to find cheap flights to South Africa.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for South Africa provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in South Africa you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for South Africa.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

Volunteers can join this program at any time throughout the year.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
4 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
4 weeks (min. stay)
$ 1,696
5 weeks
$ 1,987
6 weeks
$ 2,277
7 weeks
$ 2,568
8 weeks
$ 2,858
9 weeks
$ 3,149
12 weeks (max. stay)
$ 4,020
Average fees
$ 380 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. people and places will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with people and places during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Change your reservation at no extra costs
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We refund your fees if people and places cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by people and places.

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  Africa Southern Africa South Africa  Port Elizabeth, Centrahill

Healthcare Counselling Assistant

Volunteer with a community organisation in Port Elizabeth which provides healthcare, nutrition and education to HIV sufferers and vulnerable children and their families.


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