Plan My Gap Year supports a range of day-care centres that provide essential childcare facilities to impoverished families of nearby communities.
It is estimated that about 80% of young children in South Africa’s townships do not have access to early childhood development education and lack the support required to develop to their full potential.
Since the end of Apartheid in 1994, poor government funding and flawed policies have exacerbated many of the problems for South Africa’s poorest. Today about 57% of South Africa’s population lives in poverty. In low income township areas, living conditions are challenging, with high crime and unemployment rates, health problems and high population densities. A lack of childcare facilities leaves many children unattended and unprotected.
Plan My Gap Year supports a range of day-care centres that provide essential childcare facilities to impoverished families of nearby communities. The majority of these children come from the Townships and other underdeveloped communities where social and health problems such as gang violence, drugs, malnutrition and HIV/Aids are rife.
The day care centres we support are either independent local initiatives or government subsidised community support programmes. Some are home-based crèches run by local women and others are more structured organisations. However, they all have a common goal: to help provide the little ones with their basic right to develop their full emotional, social and physical potential. Some of the children arrive each day by bus, whereas others are dropped off by a parent. The children will then leave again in the afternoon. The children range from 3 months to 6 years old, depending on the facility.
The first five years of a child’s life are fundamentally important. They are the foundation that shapes children’s future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievement at school, in the family and community, and in life in general.
Children learn more quickly during their early years than at any other time in life. They need love and nurturing to develop a sense of trust and security that turns into confidence as they grow. Babies and young children grow, learn and develop rapidly when they receive love and affection, attention, encouragement and mental stimulation, as well as nutritious meals and good health care. Volunteers help to provide all of this in our day-care centres offering invaluable assistance to the over-stretched local staff.
The teachers and assistants communicate to the children using a mixture of Afrikaans, English and Xhosa. Some of the centres provide meals for the children so volunteers can assist with feeding times.
Specific childcare experience is not required but it is an advantage. As long as you have patience and a willingness to do your bit then you can really make a difference.
You should arrive into Cape Town International Airport on the selected Sunday start date. You will be met at the airport by one of our local staff or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The programme ends on the Saturday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day.
Can I use this program as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.
The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions.
In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.
When you join PMGY we will send you a Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visa issues etc. Furthermore, our UK team are only ever a phone call away should you wish to discuss any aspect of your upcoming programme. When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive safety briefing during your orientation course by our local coordinators. We will go through everything from emergency procedures, how to use local transport and cultural differences. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM card, something we strongly suggest, so you’re contactable at all times. We will provide you with a full list of the important contact numbers that you’ll need to know.
All our local teams are experienced development professionals who have years of experience in hosting international volunteers. They are our representatives on the ground and will assist you 24/7 throughout your stay. Whether you need to call home, travel at the weekend or require urgent assistance – they are there to support you.
While we cannot guarantee your volunteer experience to be 100% trouble free we have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure each programme is as safe as possible.
Your role will vary from assisting permanent staff in daily tasks, creating learning aids and general supervision. Volunteers can also carry out some teaching such as reading, writing, basic maths and arts & crafts. Volunteers are also expected to help with feeding at lunch times if applicable and general maintenance at the project too. Importantly, you will become a positive role model for the children, which is something that so many of the children are so sadly lacking.
We work with a range of childcare programmes across Cape Town. Each centre is different varying from 50 to a 100 children and ranging from children as young as 6 months up to 6 years old usually. Usually children are broken down into smaller group sizes depending on their age. Below is two examples of the projects that we work with.
PROJECT EXAMPLE – DOPLHIN EDUCATE
Dolphin Educare was established over 30 years ago. They have 80 little ones between the ages of 3 months and 5 years. The kids are mostly from the local area. They have a fundraiser once a month in order to keep the educare sustainable. They have 18 babies at the centre. Dolphin Educare is located in the picturesque coastal area of Strandfontein. Sand dunes and Table Mountain offer a spectacular backdrop to this project. Dolphin Educare is a crèche facility offering childcare to families in the nearby community. The children that attend are Afrikaans.
English and Xhosa speaking and come from underprivileged homes. PMGY volunteers ease the workload of the understaffed team by providing the children with the extra care and attention.
PROJECT EXAMPLE – NEW WORLD FOUNDATION
The New World Foundation is a crèche located in Lavender Hill, deep in the Cape Flats in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. The working class area of Lavender Hill is a predominantly Afrikaans speaking community. Many social malaises affect this area such as unemployment, alcoholism and drug abuse.
Many of the children at the crèche come from broken homes and deprived backgrounds so the extra care and attention that PMGY volunteers contribute is highly appreciated by the staff, children and community alike.
IN & AROUND CAPE TOWN
PMGY volunteers are based in Sea Point, a fantastic cosmopolitan spot in Cape Town with a great vibe. The Promenade runs the length of Sea Point’s beachfront, from Bantry Bay to Mouille Point and is the ideal place to walk, jog and watch the sunset. The beach provides a nice spot for just chilling out and relaxing in the sun.
There is a host of pubs, music clubs, coffee shops and restaurants. Sea Point’s vibrant nightlife creates a carnival atmosphere for visitors and locals alike. The beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay are not too far off, and the V&A Waterfront and Two Oceans Aquarium are just minutes away.
In fact the possibilities in Cape Town during your time off are endless and you may well struggle to fit everything in! Whether you want to stay in the city or explore the rest of the Western Cape there really is something for everyone.
THE V & A WATERFRONT
Located in the heart of Cape Town’s working harbour the Waterfront offers visitors an abundance of experiences. You will find a range of restaurants, shops and hotels surrounding the highly impressive marina. There is usually live music being played throughout the day. The Waterfront is only a stone’s throw away from the Cape Town Stadium and is about a 20 minute walk from the Volunteer House. It is definitely worth a look!
Situated in the City Bowl, Long Street is the main hangout spot for backpackers in Cape Town. It is famous for its bohemian feel and the street is lined with bars, restaurants and interesting shops. Many of the backpacker hostels are located on Long Street and it is the main place to go if you want to experience Cape Town’s exciting nightlife.
One of the most popular attractions in Cape Town is Table Mountain. It stands 1000m above sea level and the summit can be accessed via cable car. If you’re feeling energetic then you can always trek to the top! The journey takes around 1.5 hours. It is a challenging trek but the views from the summit are truly spectacular. The cable car is weather dependent so don’t rely on it to take you back down to the bottom! There is a restaurant at the top, it’s quite pricey but if you took the trekking option it’s a nice place to sit and relax. For the adrenaline junkies there is an abseiling company who operate from the top of Table Mountain, it’s the highest commercial abseil in the world.
Used as a prison right up until 1996, this Unesco World Heritage site is preserved as a memorial to those such as Nelson Mandela who spent many years incarcerated there. You can only go there on a tour lasting around 4 hours. It includes the ferry and departs from the Nelson Mandela Gateway beside the Clock Tower at the Waterfront. Booking online well in advance is highly recommended as tours can sell out.
We provide a free pickup service from the airport. If you would like us to also arrange your return, we will charge a fee of £15
During your time with PMGY in South Africa you will live in our Volunteer House located in Sea Point, a great, lively spot in Cape Town. The beach is only a short walk away, and there are plenty of bars, restaurants and local amenities in the surrounding area. Long Street, Cape Town’s premier nightlife destination is only 10 minutes away by public transport. You’ll be living with other PMGY volunteers from around the world, so you’ll make plenty of friends along the way.
The accommodation is basic but comfortable with Wi-Fi (there will be a small charge). Each room has bunk beds with up to 8 people per room in mixed-sex rooms. Bathrooms are shared, have a shower and western style toilet. During the winter period (June to August) it can get quite cold, so please bring warm clothes and a sleeping bag – although you are provided with a bed sheet and blanket so it’s up to personal preference.
The house has a communal area for volunteers to hang out with sofa’s, flat screen TV and DVD player. Each volunteer has their own locker to store valuables so you should bring a padlock with you to store away your items. There will also be fridge space available for volunteers to store any items they need to keep chilled.
Please note that rooms are mixed gender and we cannot accommodate single-sex or private rooms in the Volunteer House.
During our busiest months (June to September) you may be placed at alternative accommodation. This could be a nearby guesthouse or one of our summer Volunteer Houses.
You will be provided with breakfast and dinner from Monday to Friday. You will need to purchase your own lunch during the working week (Mon-Fri) and all meals at the weekend. Please note that although the Volunteer House has a kitchen, this is quite small and makes cooking meals difficult if the house is very busy, so it may be easier to eat out. You should budget around £40 per week for meals not included.
For breakfast we provide yoghurt, fruit, cheese, bread, jams, tea and coffee, peanut butter, eggs etc. Volunteers just help themselves – all cutlery and crockery etc is provided. Dinner is provided at a local restaurant where volunteers all eat together, the restaurant is a short walk from the Volunteer House. Typical meals include spaghetti bolognese, curry, burgers and chips, fish, salads, pasta and vegetables.
If you fancy eating out there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and local amenities in the surrounding area. Long Street, Cape Town’s premier nightlife destination is only 10 minutes away by public transport.
Note: Our team will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements but there may be instances where you may need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense.