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. Cape Town offers many different places to volunteer such as volunteering with children, working in community service, volunteering with animals or if you love sports, especially surfing, volunteering as a surfing instructor for unprivileged children.
Cape Town Trivia
- 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.
- Afrikaans is the most widely spoken language in the Western Cape.
Volunteer Options in Cape Town
There are many different volunteering options in Cape Town. Take a look and decide what works best for you!
Volunteering with children
There are different places to volunteer with children in Cape Town. One project that you can work in while you volunteer abroad in South Africa is primary school teaching in and around Cape Town. The children are 6 to 13 years old and the teaching will primarily focus on English language training, basic level math, arts, science and others. Even though South Africa is a nation with huge potential, many children do not receive the education they need, because it largely depends on the wealth and location of their families. Also, due to the inflow of refugees, schools are overfilled and lack teachers. Volunteering at a school will include the following activities:
- Assisting teachers in the classroom
- The possibility of teaching a class without supervision
- Assisting the slower learners
- Contribute to activities such as arts or sports with your creativity
One project example for volunteering with children is the Ikhaya Primary School, which is located in the township of Kayamandi, outside Cape Town. Due to its location the school has limited resources and depends on your indispensable volunteering. Another place to volunteer at is the Kannemeyer Primary School, located in Grassy Park, a working, middle class community in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. The region has been badly affected by drug problems and education on drug abuse is vital.
Other places to volunteer with children are crèches or kindergartens. Here, you will work with infant babies to 6 year old children and fulfill different task, such as feeding, teaching and playing, meal preparation and the preparation of educational toys.
Another project available as a volunteer in Cape Town is to be part of the ‘Cape Town Community Projects’ in order to support the people in the Kraaifontein community. In this community, most people have insufficient income and the poverty rate is high. Results are alcohol abuse and child neglect. Volunteering work in this project is desperately needed. During your time volunteering in community service there are several programs available that you can combine with each other if you wish:
- Helping with Food preparation and hand out meals to the people of the community
- Work and support the foster care
- Assist at the Grade R learning center, a preschool with 180 children
- Assist at the local hospital to help people who recover from substance abuse
- Assist the gardening team with agricultural work
A totally different possibility to volunteer in Cape Town is to participate in the ‘Surfing Smiles’ program. The goals of this project are to give underprivileged children a more positive view and to establish a life without crime and drugs in South Africa. Here, surfing and the whole surfing culture are used as a tool for change. Usually, the project works with about 12 children at a time. In order to continue with the project, volunteers are badly needed. If you love to surf and want to be part of an amazing team, this project in South Africa is perfect for you.
Educational Conservation Program
As a volunteer in Cape Town you also have the opportunity to work in an educational program. The Marine Conservation project is both informative and a fun marine program, where you get the chance to learn about the coastal and marine ecosystem, the ecology and the factors affecting marine conservation. Also, you receive a deeper understanding of marine animals such as whales, dolphins, sharks and others. During volunteering you will do research, workshops and explore animals.
Another more educational volunteering program is the ‘World Greenest Road Trip’, where you will take part in different projects in South Africa. This program combines eco tourism, nature conservation, local outreach programs, ocean mammal research, recycling, tree-planting and more amazing tasks, on a four week roadtrip. In order to get an idea of that program, here are some projects pervious groups participated in in the past:
- White Shark Research
- Wildlife survival bush camp
- Ocean conservation and sea mammal research
Being a volunteer in Cape Town is perfect for you to get in contact with new people who share the same interests like you!
For Couples & families
You are able to volunteer abroad together with your partner or family. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to accomplish an important duty together. It will also bond you and your partner or family. Volunteering is also possible with children. During the work they will not only learn about inequalities, but also get the change to get to know the African culture.
Taking part in a volunteer project as a group is an amazing opportunity to connect and to meet your people in a new environment. Volunteering is also a great team-building opportunity for you and your colleagues.
On the days you are not busy volunteering, Cape Town offers you many possibilities to experience an unforgettable time.
Free time activities
Sometimes you want to experience a contrasting program to your daily work as a volunteer in Cape Town. At the V&A Waterfront both tourists and locals meet. During the day you should walk to the food market and try local dishes. Or, stroll around Water Shed, a big hall, where African locals sell handmade jewelry. At night, the Waterfront is a popular place to party. When in Cape Town, you definitely need to visit the Table Mountain. Once you are on top of the mountain, walk a few minutes away from the touristic area, to experience a beautiful and quiet nature. If you love animals, you cannot miss the penguin colony in Simon’s Town. The little town is located in the South of Cape Town and worth a visit. Insider tip: Take the train instead of the car, which drives along the beautiful coast. If you love surfing, do it in Cape Town. The city offers you many spots for both beginners and advanced surfers.
Best time to volunteer
When it’s grey and rainy in Germany, it is summer time in South Africa. Between December and March, the temperature in Cape Town can go up to 35 degrees but due to Cape Towns’ location at the seaside, there is always a nice breeze.
Cultural & Religious differences
South Africa is multicultural and has one of the most diverse cultures worldwide. But, the lifestyle is more westernized, which is especially noticeable in Cape Town. Most of the locals are religious and might question when you are not. Often, they invite you to a church service.
Generally, hospitals and other medical facilities in Cape Town have a high standard. But, hospitals suffer from overcrowding, so always keep in mind that you need to bring 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.
Thinking about South Africa and especially Cape Town brings up the topic of safety. With the right behavior, you minimize the chance to become a victim of a crime. Make sure to stick to the usual precautions, meaning do not walk alone at night and do not leave valuables such as cameras etc. visible. Also, especially important for women, do not wear jewelry. If you want to take a taxi use official cars and not the minibuses.
The most dominant languages spoken in South Africa are Afrikaans and English. Whereas in the Northern Suburbs most people speak Afrikaans, English is more used in shops and businesses. During the time you volunteer abroad, you will notice that locals sometimes switch between both languages.