On community volunteering trips in South Africa, volunteers should be prepared for a pace of life that is much slower than they may be used to, so patience, respect and empathy are every bit as important as qualifications and relevant work experience. An open mind and a willingness to smile and be positive are essential for community volunteers, as well as the ability to be flexible and think on your feet when it comes to dealing with conditions that are very far removed from what you find back home. Healthcare, teaching and coaching positions require volunteers to have relevant qualifications, skills and/or work experience, whereas assistants are more likely to be given on the job training.
We recommend community volunteers sign up for a minimum of four weeks. It’s important that time is really invested when it comes to interacting with underprivileged communities in places like Port Elizabeth and Cape Town’s outer suburbs.

Sports coach & teaching assistants

Anne Smellie from Oyster World:
“Physical education isn’t formally taught in many of the schools that support South African townships and, as such, volunteer sports coaches provide a much needed chance for kids to run about and enjoy themselves after sitting down in a classroom all day. Some children will never have played cricket or rugby before, and often a kick around with a flat football will be the closest they’ll get to emulating the Bafana Bafana.”
Township schools around Port Elizabeth and Cape Town are extremely underfunded with limited resources and large class sizes, and volunteering as a classroom assistant or a teacher, alongside, not in place of, local teachers, can make a real difference. Volunteers teaching assistants with experience of working with children, especially in education, are vitally important. Full training will also be given to assistants on arrival. Volunteer teachers must have an appropriate qualification, such as a TEFL certificate, a PGCE, or another relevant certification in youth work. Although weekends are free to have fun, this is not a holiday and the longer you can extend your stay past four weeks, the better.

Our top South Africa volunteering Holiday

Endangered wildlife conservation in South Africa

Endangered wildlife conservation in South Africa

Award-winning, Fair Trade certified wildlife conservation!

From US $1544 14 days ex flights
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If you'd like to chat about South Africa volunteering or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Volunteer with deaf children

Volunteering with children with hearing difficulties in an underprivileged suburb of Cape Town is an incredibly valuable experience, not least of all for the kids. Skilled volunteers who know how to sign are always welcome to come and assist staff at the local school which caters for partially and fully deaf children aged from three to 13. Depending on your preference, and where help is most needed, daily duties will include assisting teachers and their permanent assistants in the classroom with standard Grade 1 – 7 lessons, including maths, English reading and writing. The preschool unit focuses on games, painting and outside learning play and you may well be helping little ones who are learning to sign for the very first time.
Anne Smellie from our tour supplier Oyster World explains where the volunteering fee goes, and the impact that sports coaching can have on disadvantaged children:
“Our volunteer projects help to fund scholarships for kids that show talent within our school sport sessions. Not only will a scholarship pay for further sports coaching but students will also benefit from uniforms, stationery and an education their parents could only dream about. Students often come back to their old schools to show current pupils what can be achieved. It gives township communities hope and potential access to a lifestyle that was once inconceivable. The young children’s faces when they see those shiny shoes and neck ties – pure adulation.”
“One of my favourite volunteering stories was when a young lad absolutely flourished at rugby during his after school sports sessions. He was picked out by the talent team and offered a scholarship to a senior school. He then went on to progress to university. A young black boy from a township attending university is a really big deal in South Africa. It’s thanks to sports coaching volunteer projects that this happened and will hopefully inspire more young people to follow on the same progressive path.”
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Frontier Official] [Child care group: Pod volunteer] [Sports and teaching: Frontier Official] [Boy playing soccer: Ssilberman] [Community healthcare: Frontier Official] [Volunteer deaf teaching: Travellers Worldwide] [deaf children in class: Travellers Worldwide] [Volunteer deaf children sports: Travellers Worldwide]
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