You are about to discover a new culture, accomplish something unforgettable, and explore what South Africa has to offer!
Follow in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and take action in South Africa. Use your personal experiences and creative activities as motivation and encouragement for youth and communities in various rural and urban locations. While living with your host family, you’ll contribute to projects in education, childcare, health and wellness and a specialized ‘Heroes of Service’ program in honour of the late Mandela.
I worked at a children's home in Thohoyandou, S.A. for one week, then taught at Manamani secondary school for three weeks. Just do it, you won't be disappointed in any way, shape or form, and just have a completely open mind as to what you would like to experience/accomplish as these goals change weekly, even daily, as you are there.
Amanda | South Africa Volunteer
My time in Venda, and as a teacher, has most certainly been an element in my development of global perspective. The resilience, good humour and willingness to learn - continued in children who have very little, certainly instils me with humility, admiration, and even a little awe.
Evelyn | South Africa Volunteer
Just Choose a Project and Apply!
When you volunteer in our South Africa program, you'll have a unique opportunity to join in everyday life in South Africa with your host family. Our South African host families are selected for their dedication to the development of their community. Along with sampling some of the local delicacies, there’s plenty to see in South Africa – including the 'Big Five' at Kruger National Park.
Are you great with kids? Do you want to help them get a good start in life? The town's Children's Home and shelters are referred to locally as "places of safety". As a volunteer, you can help by working with children, and general caretaking which includes handing out porridge and brushing teeth, teaching English, reading, writing and pronunciation. Simple mathematics and counting, body hygiene, crafts and educational games for younger children may be available as well. Volunteers will be able to use this time to display their mentoring experience, and motivate the students toward a positive future.
By working with orphaned children you will be moulding the young minds of talented and blossoming children. These children are in unfortunate positions and the impression that you leave on them will remain for the rest of their lives. Working at a Children’s home is a life changing experience for you and the children you are helping.
Locations: Venda, Limpopo or Soweto
Teaching and Cultural Learning
By joining this program, you will have the unique opportunity to assist local staff by teaching and mentoring students coming from impoverished communities.
This volunteer program offers individuals the opportunity to work with primary school-aged children (5 years to 12 years) and secondary school-aged children (13 years to 17 years). Your role will be to teach and assist in a variety of ways. You can teach English, Math, or Science at your comfort to identified classes, or work with a teacher and assist in reading comprehension. You will have an opportunity to engage with many students in the classroom, one-on-one, and during classroom breaks.
Volunteer teachers may teach geography and the history of their countries, introduce life skills lesson plans, or teach extra-curricular activities between classroom breaks. Each school-lead will serve as your anchor and guide throughout your learning and teaching experience.
The children receive a meal at school and volunteers can assist with planning and distribution of meals. An important role for volunteers in this program is teaching English and Mathematics, as well as reading and writing skills. You will inspire the students to develop a positive attitude towards learning, while learning about their culture.
Locations: Venda, Limpopo or Soweto
Healthcare and Wellness
Are you interested in the health and wellness of others? Or perhaps you are a health or medical practitioner? Our partner in South Africa has good relationships with home-based care centers and local clinics. This program places you in an institution which addresses health and wellness issues. You will take part in projects around HIV/AIDS awareness, gender based violence, chronic disease management, home-based care and vulnerable children. We are seeking volunteers who are studying medicine or nursing, or volunteers who wish to make a contribution in health awareness in rural and township communities in South Africa.
In this program, you will work with a wide range of young and elderly people. You may work as an administration assistant or accompany care givers when they go to visit patients and children headed households. We welcome individuals, researchers, or health practitioners who wish to experience the challenges in South Africa’s health care sector to apply.
Locations: Venda, Limpopo or Olivhenhoutbosch
Do you enjoy working and playing with small children?
This volunteer programme places you at a village pre-school or daycare center. You will be working with children from the tender age of 6 months to 5 years old. You will work as an assistant and teacher with the support of a school staff member. There is a lot of interaction, care, singing, laughing, etc. This is a perfect placement for a person who enjoys working with little children and thrives in a positive, high-energy environment. You can assist with activities in the classrooms as well as games during playtime, setting up and tidying the children’s learning spaces and teach them personal hygiene and health skills. These children are young and they will need close supervision.
Location: Venda, Limpopo
Heroes of Service
Friday July 18th has been declared "International Mandela Day" to honor the former President Nelson Mandela. The spirit of Mandela day is to inspire individuals to take action and to help change the world for the better. Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere. The slogan "Take action, inspire change, Make everyday a Mandela day" motivates people to keep helping others throughout the year.
Our partner organization is giving 10 volunteers per month the opportunity to join the first Mandela Community Service Program for 2 weeks during June and July. You will be a global “changemaker”, someone who is committed to undertaking volunteer work in the spirit of Madiba and his vision to spread justice and freedom and opportunity for all.
The Mandela Program allows you to work alongside other South Africans, and engage in more than one service project in the communities where our partner operates. If you are selected in this special programme, below are some activities you may be involved with:
Help out at an orphanage by doing chores
Offer to paint and renovate a shelter for the homeless
Help fix the playground at a daycare centre
Help paint and decorate a children’s ward at a local hospital
Spend time at a children’s ward in hospital talking to the children and assisting the nurses
Spend a day with the elderly listening to their stories
Take a bag of toys to a local hospital’s ward or a daycare centre in a rural village
Read to someone who can’t read
Coach an extramural activity at a school
Help out at a local soup kitchen
Locations for volunteer work include: hospitals, hospices, the Center for the Blind, community pre-schools, public health prevention centers, homeless shelters, schools/libraries, children's homes and national parks. This project is located in Venda, Limpopo.
Additional activities: Apartheid Museum, Hector Pieterson Museum, visiting the famous Vilakazi Street, where Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu's house stands, 1/2 day trip to Kruger National Park.
Our vision is to connect people with communities in need, with a particular focus on vulnerable women and children. We do this by supporting the work of local community organizations in countries through the placement of international volunteers.
We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:
Be a part of GVN's efforts to inspire learning, innovation and action to unlock the potential of vulnerable communities around the world. Work with exceptional grassroots projects in community development, conservation and wildlife, personal development, fundraising and physical challenges.
Have the 24/7 support of a non profit with 12 years experience in placing 19546 volunteers that will provide you with an affordable and rewarding placement.
Volunteer with a world-class organization which is recommended by Bill Gates and CNN.
Be a part of progressive non profit that has raised over $2 million to help women and children in need.
Have the comfort of knowing that GVN staff have collectively flown over 1 million miles to ensure you get a quality placement.
Make a long-term impact in your community of choice - it's not just a vacation.
How GVN works...
The first step is to fill out an application to see if we have a place for you. Then if your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.
GVN is a registered Charitable Trust, so volunteers finance themselves, or can fundraise online with our unique GVN platform, with US donors receiving tax receipts. The Program Package provides you with all that is listed below, along with personalized support from our expert staff and the knowledge that you'll be working with a reputable and registered charity with over 12 years experience in the field.
At the heart of our work is the communities our volunteers work to support - we ensure that these communities truly benefit from your time in South Africa Community and that the Program Package fully supports you financially while you're volunteering.
The Program Package also includes a project donation, which supports the work the GVN Foundation does in addressing nutrition, education and healthcare needs, as well as supporting longer-term development approaches, including income generation activities and microfinance.
Your program package includes:
Personal support from your Program Specialist throughout the preparation process.
Your Program Guide, with all the details on South Africa Community and your placement.
Fundraising strategies and access to our crowd funding platform where you can raise up to 100% of the cost your trip, with tax receipts for your US based donors.
Access to Your Own Online Journal: which helps you to communicate effectively and easily with your family and friends back home.
Opportunities for Preferred Pricing and Personalized Service when booking Airfares: through our travel partner GYT Flight Centre who go the extra mile to support GVN volunteers.
Accommodation: Home stay.
Meals: All meals are included, except the first two nights of orientation.
Airport pickup: Included on arrival date.
Training: In-country orientation and training.
Supervision: In-country staff supervision.
Support: Pre-departure personal support from your volunteer coordinator, 24/7 in-country support from partner, and 24hr emergency line.
An opportunity to debrief and provide feedback
Free access to GVN Changemakers program which alerts you to future internship/job opportunities at GVN.
A Letter of Completion in Volunteer Service.
The opportunity to stay connected with your project.
Global advocacy and fundraising campaigns to continue your part of the movement for social change with an international non-profit that has granted over $2 million to our partner organizations.
The program package does not include: Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, transport to projects, departure from the program.
We recommend you allow a weekly budget of up to US$ 40 for your other expenses like bottled water, personal items, beverages, and entertainment.
Your Program Package
Calculate the price of your individualised program package. Details on longer placements may be available on request.
Select A Project
Then: Select A Length
Your Program Package
For those securing far enough in advance, there is a possible US$300 discount. Confirming your placement early on allows us and our partner communities the ability to plan in advance with confidence in terms of volunteer numbers and funding for the months ahead.
Tell me more about South Africa?
As its name suggests, South Africa is the most southern country on the African continent. It is bordered by Namibia to the north west, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the north, and Mozambique to the north east. South Africa is roughly 5 times the size of Britain, and covers 1.2 million sq km. South Africa was isolated politically and economically for a long period of time, as other countries protested against their racial discrimination known as apartheid (apartness). That era ended in 1994 when the ANC (African National Congress) was elected to power, led by Nelson Mandela. Pressure from ANC, other black political organizations, and the international community forced an apartheid government to pass a referendum in 1992, for everyone to vote in free and fair election.
What is the climate like in South Africa?
In South Africa, the seasons are predominately summer and winter. The autumn and spring seasons are very fleeting. Finding itself at South Africa’s northernmost area and bisected by the tropic of Capricorn, visitors to Limpopo can expect sunshine, long summer afternoons, and dry days for most of their stay. Summer (October to March) in the Limpopo province can reach 30°C -35°C during the day. The winter is dry and very pleasant. Although the temperature can fall below 5°C at night, the days can present clear blue skies and temperatures in the low 20s.
What kind of volunteer work is available?
There is a wide range of volunteer work available.
Teaching Assistance/Tutoring: Volunteers with varying skills will be able to help in areas of academic and skill development through mentoring and tutoring activities. Assist with teaching at preschool, primary or secondary level. At primary and secondary levels, volunteer teaching assistants can help teach core subjects, such as English, mathematics, life skills, health and hygiene, and science. The subjects will be relative to each school’s needs, however the greatest need is typically in mathematics and science, particularly at the secondary school level. There will be additional opportunities for tutoring, career development, and organizing extracurricular activities for students. At the preschool level volunteers will teach basic English skills and carry out basic childcare duties. A teaching qualification is not required but volunteers need to be confident in the above subjects and preferably have, or are studying towards a university degree.
Childcare: Volunteers may work in settings such as day care centres or "places of safety" in the community. The town’s Children’s Home and certain foster home situations are referred to locally as "places of safety". As a volunteer, you can help by working with children ages 2-6 or at a daycare centre working with children ages 6 months to 5 years old. You can get involved with general caretaking like handing out porridge and brushing teeth, teaching English, reading, writing, and pronunciation. In addition, simple mathematics and counting, body hygiene, crafts, and educational games for younger children may be available as well. Volunteers will be able to use this time to display their mentoring experience, and motivate the students toward a positive future.
Healthcare: As a volunteer you can participate in projects around HIV/AIDS awareness, gender based violence, chronic disease management, home-based care and vulnerable children. We are seeking volunteers who are studying medicine or nursing, or volunteers who wish to make a contribution in health awareness in rural and township communities in South Africa. You will work with a wide range of young and elderly people. You may work as an administration assistant or accompany care givers when they go to visit patients and children headed households. We welcome individuals, researchers, or health practitioners who wish to experience the challenges in South Africa’s health care sector to apply.
Community Service: You could be one of 10 volunteers getting involved in community service tasks in our specialized program in honour of Nelson Mandela. Volunteer work includes the following:
Helping out at an orphanage by doing chores
Offering to paint and renovate a shelter for the homeless
Helping fix the playground at a daycare centre
Helping paint and decorating a children’s ward at a local hospital
Spending time at a children’s ward in hospital talking to the children and assisting the nurses
Spending a day with the elderly listening to their stories
Taking a bag of toys to a local hospital’s ward or a daycare centre in a rural village
Reading to someone who can’t read
Coaching an extramural activity at a school
Helping out at a local soup kitchen
What hours do I work?
Teaching assistants typically work weekdays, approximately 7 hours per day. There is a small variation in hours depending upon the time of year. The hours are generally longer during the school terms. Volunteers in childcare centres will normally have a busy afternoon schedule as children are done with school for the day, however there are some morning shifts where the children are under school age. Weekends are the normal days off.
Where will I be located?
Volunteers will be asked their preference on rural or township setting after they have confirmed their spot on the program.
The initial orientation and first night of accommodation is in Tshwane, Pretoria.
Volunteer placements are in the following locations:
Venda (rural setting): Placements are in Manamani, Itsani, and Mahematshena villages which are all located in the Limpopo province (the northernmost province of South Africa). Volunteers can get involved with Childcare, Teaching, Healthcare and our specialized Heroes of Service project. Venda is about 4.5 hours north of Johannesburg within the Vhembe District, situated in Limpopo, the northernmost province of South Africa.
Soweto (township setting): Teaching and Childcare placements are available in Soweto which is located south west of Johannesburg. Areas include Orlando West Soweto, and Kliptown Soweto.
Olivenhoutbosch (township setting): This is a recently added location and is currently available for our Healthcare project only. This is in the southwest area of Pretoria.
What resources are available for the program?
Some placements will have a stock of toys, but in most cases resources are limited. Classrooms do typically have a blackboard and chalk up front and sometimes even a bulletin board at the back. You may like to take donations of goods with you to distribute or use in the program. If you do choose to fundraise or donate items, please consult the list of suggested items in the Program Guide you will receive later.
Do you cater for vegetarians?
Vegetarians are very welcome. Host families are happy to accommodate this. If you are not a vegetarian, meat is typically served a couple times a week. If you have a particularly restricted diet, you need to indicate this on your application form.
Do you provide training?
GVN does not provide training. There is an orientation process when you first arrive to help you adjust to your new surroundings, determine a schedule, and answer your questions, supervision and general guidance are provided throughout your placement. Volunteers are however expected to be confident in carrying out their program activities without further training.
What is the average cost of flights to South Africa?
Prices will vary according to your country of origin, time of travel, and time of purchase. However, on average, return tickets to Johannesburg cost between US$800 and US$1,000 from Europe and between US$1,300 and US$2,300 from elsewhere.
How do I get to the project?
Volunteers simply need to organise their travel arrangements such that they arrive at OR Tambo Airport (in Johannesburg) prior to the official commencement date of the program. Our partner will meet you at the airport and bring you to your first night’s accommodation in Tshwane, Pretoria. The next day, volunteers will be transported to their respective project location and undertake the second part of their orientation on ground. Upon completion of your placement, our partner can help you arrange transport back to the Johannesburg area or the airport, but this will be at your own cost.
Tell me more about the accommodation?
Volunteers located in Soweto will stay with a local host family in Soweto. Accommodation facilities are more western, basic bedding and 3 meals a day are provided. Volunteers located in Venda will stay with local Venda families in Thohoyandou town area and surrounding villages. The accommodation facilities are basic, typically with electricity, pit toilets, and bucket showers being the norm. Basic bedding and 3 meals per day are provided. Thohoyandou Mall in town has an internet shop approximately $2 per 30 minutes.
Can I bring my family/children to this program with me?
The spaces in the accommodation are reserved for volunteers only. We are unable to accept volunteers’ family members unless they are volunteering as well.
Do I have to be from New Zealand to participate?
No, we can take volunteers from all over the world. Participants have come from Australia, the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, and parts of Europe. Everyone is welcome.
What age do you have to be to volunteer?
You must be 18 years old and above. There is no upper limit. All that is required is a reasonable level of health and fitness.
Do I need to speak English to become a volunteer?
Yes, you need to speak English to volunteer. You may have English as your first or second language. In Venda the main languages are English and Tshivenda.
When do I need to arrive in South Africa?
The program runs year-round. Volunteers should arrive on the day before their start date, i.e. the first or third Thursday of each month. Placements run between 2 weeks and 6 months according to your preference and program availability.
What immunizations/vaccines will I need?
DTP (Diptheria, tetanus and polio): Essential
Yellow Fever: Required if travelling from an infected area
Hepatitis A and B: Recommended
Rabies: Not Required
Malaria is endemic in the lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, and on the Maputaland coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Kruger National Park, a very popular destination, is within a malaria area. We strongly urge you to visit your GP or travel medicine specialist. If you intend traveling beyond South Africa, you must consult additional, reliable sources.
Are we able to do any sightseeing while volunteering?
Absolutely. The project is well positioned for trips to local scenic sites and Kruger National Park less than an hour away. An optional weekend excursion will be organized by our partner organization if there is enough interest. Pilanesberg National Park, Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Mozambique, Durban, and Swaziland are other examples of destinations volunteers have visited in the past.
Are there more expenses once I arrive?
The in-country fee covers all the necessities - food, accommodation, airport pickup, and so forth. You will need to have additional money for bottled water, internet, extra food, additional traveling, tourist activities, for days off, airport departure tax, and any personal shopping you may do.
How safe is it to volunteer in South Africa?
South Africa, particularly Johannesburg, has a high crime rate and a very poor image when it comes to the issue of personal safety. You will be staying in rural South Africa which is quite a close-knit community, volunteers are still asked not to walk around at night. When you are outside the area, we will advise you on where it is safe to travel and stay. Most volunteers will be accommodated in a home stay situation. The host families have all been carefully selected to provide you with a safe family environment and an insight into Venda life. As in many countries, foreigners are perceived as wealthy in South Africa. Although the people are generally warm and friendly towards foreigners, as well as appreciative of the work done by volunteers, not every individual is the same. We work extremely hard to ensure you are placed in safe environments while volunteering and security policies are in place to achieve this. However, as in any situation at home or abroad, there is no way to erase all potential threats.
What clothing and other personal supplies do I need to bring?
Volunteers are encouraged to wear comfortable but tidy attire. It can be very hot at certain times of the year, however covering up is important not only for protection from the sun and insects, but also to show respect to your local co-workers and members of the community. For women this means long pants, skirts, and dresses. For men, this means long pants, or even nice knee-length shorts if necessary. If you are working with very young children, keep in mind that your clothes may get extra dirty as the greatest fun for children is making a mess!
Can I get my medicines in South Africa?
You can’t count on it. Please ensure that you bring all the medicines you do - and may - require.
Should I bring my mobile phone?
You can bring your own phone and purchase a local SIM card so that it will work in South Africa. The cost of a SIM card is approximately U$10 and you can buy prepaid credit to top up your phone.
How many volunteers are there on site at the same time?
This depends on how many people volunteer at the one time. Numbers can range from 2 to 5 volunteers with a maximum of 14 volunteers.
Can you tell me more about the partner organisation in South Africa?
Our partner is a South African based organisation aimed at establishing educational, cross-cultural, and service delivery projects in areas of Africa. Through its projects, our partner asserts its active commitment to youth development, improved education opportunities, and skills development for young people. Their education initiatives (volunteer program and career fair) seek to work in partnership with Vhembe District to create an enabling environment and communities which are supportive of youth and present positive role models.
How does GVN choose volunteers for this program?
Each GVN program has different criteria depending on our partner's requirements. Every application is reviewed to ensure that the minimum requirements (as set out on the program page) are met. Next we look to see what skills or experience you have that relate specifically to the program. We are also interested in any previous volunteer experience you may have (either local or international), travel experience, and your particular interest in the program.
After reviewing your application, should we require any further information from you, we will email you to request this.
Who organises my visa for my volunteer placement?
You will be granted a 3 month tourist visa on arrival, providing you have a valid passport, and 2 adjacent pages. If you chose to stay in the country longer, either as a result of extending your volunteer placement or electing to travel, it is possible to extend your visa at the Department of Home Affairs. As at 1 April 2004, a tariff of ZAR 425 applies. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after you intend to return home. You will also be asked to substantiate that (i) you have enough money to support yourself during the remainder of your stay (ie. bank statements) and (ii) you have a return ticket.
Do I need travel insurance?
All GVN Volunteers must have insurance. You are free to take out insurance cover through any provider of your choice. However, as some policies do not cover volunteering, we recommend you check you are covered during your volunteer placement.
For your convenience we have arranged a comprehensive package specially designed for volunteering. It includes excellent medical and accident coverage as well as “loss of deposits” cover which covers fees paid to GVN, airlines etc. If you would like to learn more just follow this link: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/insurance/
How do I pay my fees?
Your program fee is payable to Global Volunteer Network 10 weeks prior to the 1st of the month you wish to volunteer. Please note, your placement is not confirmed (ie secured) until your program fee has been received. Please note that all charges incurred by the payment of the program fee are at the volunteer’s expense, e.g. if a bank transfer incurs a bank fee at the point of origin, that is at the expense of the volunteer. Seventy percent (70%) of the program fee is refundable until two calendar months before the 1st of the month you are due to begin your program. For example a volunteer with 15 July 2012 as their start date would need to submit their refund request form by the last day of April 2012 to be eligible for a refund. Refer to GVN's legal terms of service for full details.
Do I need a police clearance document to volunteer in this program?
Yes, all volunteers in this program will be required to provide a police clearance document. This is because volunteers will be working closely with children and other vulnerable individuals. To obtain a police clearance you will need to contact your local police station to find out what their procedure is. Normally, you will be asked to complete an application form authorizing the check to be done, pay a fee and a few weeks later the check will arrive in the mail. A copy of your police clearance will need to be sent to GVN before your placement begins and you will need to take the original with you when you volunteer.
About South Africa
South Africa comprises the southernmost tip of Africa. It shares it's borders with Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Swaziland, with the southern coast bordering 2 different oceans. Further, in the interior of the country lies the Free State of Lesotho, encircled entirely by South Africa.
In terms of size, South Africa is one-eighth the size of the US, twice the size of France and over three times the size of Germany.
Development in South Africa
South Africa is a country rich in natural resources such as gold, coal, platinum and copper.
South Africa's unparalleled scenic, wildlife, cultural and historic attraction has made it a very popular tourist destination. Tourism contributes over R25-billion to the economy (8.2% of GDP).
About a quarter of the population is unemployed, and lives on less than US $1.25 a day. Development is significantly localised around four areas: Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, and Pretoria/Johannesburg. Beyond these four economic centres, development is marginal and poverty is still prevalent despite government efforts.
Volunteers provide greatly needed assistance in the social and academic development of young people in Soweto and Venda, South Africa.
As a volunteer in South Africa you can provide love, affection, education and support to disadvantaged children. You will help to improve education in schools ensuring children learn and flourish. You and also provide education, inter-cultural exchange and understanding in South African communities.
What else can I do in South Africa?
If you're looking for diversity, South Africa's hard to beat. If landscapes are your thing there’s the deserted Kalahari, Namakwa’s springtime wildflowers and the phenomenal Table Mountain.
No visit would be complete without a trip to Kruger National Park to join a safari where if you're lucky you could spot the Big Five. For something a little more cosmopolitan, try the nightclubs of Cape Town, a curry in Durban’s Indian Area, or dig in at a braai, a traditional South African barbecue!