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Khaya Volunteer Projects

Ithemba Special Day Care Assistant

Port Elizabeth, South Africa show on map

Ithemba is a special day care center where mentally & often physically disabled children aged between six and 18 can go to.

About the Program

The intention of a special day care centre like this is to give disabled children the attention and support they need (knowledge, time and means are usually insufficient in townships).

Next to education and attention, Ithemba includes the teaching of basic life skills. In this way more independency is created. This is a very useful and positive development (especially for disabled children) as they can maintain themselves better in society. Furthermore, Ithemba tries to include parents in the program to expand their knowledge of different disabilities and how to cope with them.

Ithemba came into existence in September 1988, when 3 local community members were discussing the fact that mentally disabled children didn’t have the opportunity to educate and develop themselves because there was no special day care centre. To examine the real need for such a centre they enumerated the level of demand within the townships. Especially parents of mentally disabled children were asked for their opinion. Apparently, the parents encountered a lot of problems which they were unable to tackle themselves. The biggest problems were lack of attention, lack of tools, stalled development and no independency. The early founders of Ithemba concluded that the existing level of demand for a special day care centre was huge and proceeded to put the original idea into reality.

They started a centre for disabled township children that at first, was run from an empty ward at the hospital. As more parents heard about the centre the numbers of children attending increased. The ward became too crowded and the founders of Ithemba realized the need to build their own centre.

Today Ithemba has its own centre with 3 classrooms, a therapy room, office, kitchen and volunteer offices, playground and gardens around the premises providing daily support to up to 44 children with a team of 3 teachers, class assistants, a cook, Centre Manager and other supporting staff. 

Vision

To be a dynamic movement thus supporting handicapped children in attaining optimal mental wellbeing and quality of life in society.

Mission

We actively work with the community to achieve the highest possible level of mental health for all by:

  • Enabling people to identify mental health needs and responding appropriately (i.e. communicate with parents, analyse children’s home, supply ergonomic devices);
  • Developing equal caring services for people having difficulty coping with everyday life and those with mental handicaps (i.e. supplying day care, life skills education and transportation);
  • Creating public awareness of mental health issues and striving for recognition and protection of mental health rights (i.e. external activities to church or beach to promote understanding and integration).

The existence and continuity of Ithemba can only be assured because of our loyal staff. They create an environment where the children can learn several skills and develop themselves by offering a structured program.

Program Needs

As a Non-Profit Organization (NPO) Ithemba relies heavily on subsidies, parents contributions and donations. Next to the need for support by active involvement of volunteers Ithemba also has ongoing financial needs such as:

  • Kitchen supplies such as cooking gas, utensils, etc.

  • Craft and drawing materials (crayons, pencils, paint etc)

  • Tooth paste and brushes

  • First aid supplies such as plasters and bandages

  • Gardening needs such as tools, seeds and soil

If you like to prepare your stay at Ithemba and do some fundraising they will be most grateful for your support. 

Typical day

The support of volunteer and trainees will consist of several tasks:

  • Individual work: physiotherapy/speech therapy/occupational therapy
  • Give a lesson in classroom (teachers will translate)
  • Arrange outings for a group of children
  • Daily life activities: going to the shop, learn to look out for traffic, behaving safely in their environment
  • Basic mathematics, reading and writing, counting, alphabet
  • Creative work
  • Garden work: watering plants and vegetables
  • Self-help skills: toilet training, washing, dressing, shoelaces, buttons, brushing teeth
  • Colouring, painting, any other suitable form of handwork
  • Board and card games
  • Sports and games: ball skills, new games
  • Self-help skills to enable children to be more self-sufficient: washing, dressing, shoelaces, brushing teeth
  • Domestic skills: cleaning, sweeping, wiping, washing
  • You will work Monday-Thursday from about 8h00-14h30, while Friday is from 8h00-12h00 and weekends are off. Some days might start earlier or later and in summertime, due to the heat, hours can change.

A general schedule is as follows:

07h30  Departures from Volunteer House
08h30-09h20 Arrival group 1- Going to the toilet/bathroom and individual work
09h20-09h30 Arrival group 2
09h30-10h00 Morning greeting, exercises, prayers (everyone is involved)
10h00-10h30 Breakfast- helping children that struggle with feeding
10h30-11h00 Lesson of the day-including numeracy/colours/theme of the month
11h00-11h30 Creative activities - garden work (help of volunteers and assistants)
11h30-12h00 Outdoor sports, games, singing, organized plays (mostly supported by volunteers)
12h00-12h25 Sounds and communications-words-story time
12h30-13h00 Lunch – supported by volunteers and assistants
12h45-13h00 Teeth brushing
13h30 Departure group 1 (volunteers take charge of group 2 until their departure)
14h30 Pick up to go home 

Please note that Ithemba will be closed for the school holidays throughout the year and that during those weeks any volunteers will be supporting holiday programs for the youth at one of our other programs: Izizwe Projects.

Free-time activities

PE is the biggest city of the Eastern Cape, with approximately 1.2 million inhabitants (including the Northern areas, Despatch and Uitenhage). In the Eastern Cape you will find cities such as Bisho, King William’s Town and Umtata which can be found in the regions of the Transkei and Ciskei, which were known as ‘homelands’ in the Apartheid years.

During the Apartheid era, the ‘homelands’ were the home of the Xhosa speaking people. There weren’t a lot of facilities and work opportunities in those areas. Many off the Xhosa people worked in the bigger cities, but went home every year to visit their families. Fort Hare University was the only university in the area where Xhosa people were allowed to study. Famous politicians namely Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Steve Biko completed their studies at this university. Although Bisho is the capital of the Eastern Cape, it remains poor and an undeveloped city. Many people moved from these homelands to Port Elizabeth in search of employment and a better life.

The Eastern Cape is as culturally diverse as it is in nature and the climate of the region. The diversity in culture is represented by the black population (mostly Xhosa speaking), coloureds, Indian and white people of Port Elizabeth. As you can see here and will surely notice in South Africa; we do not mind using the colour of our skins to be identified with, so there is nothing insulting to call somebody black if they are.

The Eastern Cape and the surroundings of Port Elizabeth show a large variety of natural beauty and make PE a great central place to visit the variety of South Africa. To the East you will find the Wild coast (former Transkei and Ciskei) which is mostly rural and undeveloped, but closer you will find Addo Elephant Park and great coastal villages such as Port Alfred. 

To the North you will find the great Karoo; a semi desert area with wide open spaces, large nature areas and long open roads with historical places such as Graaff Reinet, the Baviaanskloof Wilderness and much more. To the East towards Cape Town, you will be amazed by the Tsitsikamma National Park, holiday villages such as Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and natures Valley or the surf mecca of Jeffrey’s Bay. This gives you plenty to see and visit while you are here. 

Water Sports
Swimming
Concert/Music
Diving/Snorkling
Climbing
Safari/Zoo
Hiking
Museum/Opera
Sports
Riding

Program Requirements

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).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Criminal Background Check
required
Education Requirements
at High school level
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Ithemba is looking for volunteers which are experienced with kids that need special care. Either educated qualifications or experience with for example within your own life circle.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 07:30 - 14:30

Suitable for

Singles
Couples

Included Services

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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Khaya Volunteer Projects.
Services by Khaya Volunteer Projects
  • Information and assistance before departure
  • Pick up upon arrival and drop off at the end of your stay
  • Welcome pack with information guide, free SIM-card, maps, etc. upon arrival
  • City Tour and Introduction Program
  • Accommodation in volunteer house close to the beach
  • (7 nights per week of volunteering booked)
  • Onsite volunteer coordinator available 24/7
  • 3 basic meals a day
  • 15% direct donation to the program’s needs
  • Transfers to and from the program daily
  • Offer of weekend trips and outings (extra costs apply) to enjoy yourself on the weekends 

Airport Pickup at Port Elizabeth International Airport

Your airport pickup is included in your fee when arriving on Monday or any other day of the week. If you choose to arrive on a weekend, we will gladly organize a cab to pick you up (or you can take an Uber) to any accommodation of your choice. We will collect you there on Monday morning at 9AM to start your stay with us.

 

If you prefer to come to us directly over the weekend, as well as when you depart again, we will charge an extra Weekend Fee of R200 (15 EUR) for your pick up or drop off. An additional R250 (20 EUR) per night for any extra nights outside of your booking dates. Please discuss your personal preference with us to make sure all is prepared for you.

Accommodation

The volunteer house lies in the popular beach front area of Humewood, and is only a five minute walk away from the beach. Shops, beachfront cafés, restaurants and access to other facilities are all within easy reach. It’s the perfect location to enjoy the beach after work or during weekends.

The volunteer house offers spacious living conditions and is shared with other volunteers who work at Door of Hope, Missionvale Care Centre and Izizwe Township Projects making it the perfect place to enjoy your stay with other volunteers from all over the world.

It is fully furnished and has all the facilities needed and more; two kitchens, two washing machines, a dining room and TV lounge, a garden with a swimming pool to cool off, great views of the ocean and 9 bedrooms offering a variety of sleeping options. Wireless internet is free; just bring your own laptop or any other device to access the Wi-Fi network.

We even have a full time cleaning lady, as we believe in offering local employment but especially in offering clean and well looked after accommodation. All bedding is provided, but no towels, so please bring your own.

Depending on how busy it is, you will share a room with other volunteers, some rooms are very large, which offer dorm style accommodation (4 beds in a room), others are a bit smaller for only 2 volunteers sharing. Male and female volunteers will have separate rooms and bathrooms to use. We have a total of 6 bathrooms in the house.

If you would like to have a private room, we will gladly see if we can arrange that for the small surcharge per week. Couples and older volunteers will have preference for private rooms if available, but if you want to be guaranteed a private room we will have to charge this extra fee. Let us know if you want more information. 

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

Our full time cook, Melanie will provide all meals at the volunteer house on a daily basis. This means you will be able to enjoy great South African home cooked meals, learn how to cook some of these specialties and have a House Mother to comfort you when needed. Melanie is a lady with a warm heart and even bigger embrace for those that need it and she will look after the house and the meals to provide the best possible.

We believe in participation, so volunteers will not be sitting back and get served, they still need to help her cook at times, chop vegetables, clean dishes and warm up the food for dinner themselves.

Melanie will create weekly menus offering breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as alternate meals like stews, curries, stir-fry, soups, pastas and other wholesome options. Meals will be prepared and cooked from Monday to Friday, where on weekends volunteers will only have to heat up a meal or make their own similar meals.

There is free coffee, tea and cordial juice available at any time. For breakfast you will have toast, fruit, yogurt, cereal and/or eggs. For lunch you can have sandwiches with cheese, marmalade, cold meats or other spreads. Please tell our coordinators about any wishes, vegetarian wishes and allergies concerning food.

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.
Vaccines
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.
Costs (Prices in USD)
8 weeks (min. stay)
$2,205.00
10 weeks
$2,705.00
11 weeks
$2,955.00
12 weeks (max. stay)
$3,205.00
Average fees
$271.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Port Elizabeth/South Africa between 8 weeks and 12 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Khaya Volunteer Projects will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in South Africa.
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 Khaya Volunteer Projects during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
Africa Southern Africa South Africa Port Elizabeth, 3 Chalmers Road
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