A Place of Good Hope

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Volunteer in South Africa

Experience true diversity by working alongside the local communities that make up South Africa’s rainbow nation.

Refine your field-work skills with invaluable volunteering opportunities in South Africa, a country deeply rooted in diverse nature, culture and tradition. Do meaningful work as part of community partnerships dedicated to the fight for a more equitable future, while living in one of the most naturally breathtaking cities in the world.

Positive<br/>impact

Positive
impact

Build a better world by contributing to vital, locally-led project work that strives for a more just and equitable future.
Ethical<br/>work

Ethical
work

In line with the UN’s SDGs, we are committed to ethical and sustainable engagement with our local partners and communities.
Beautiful<br/>community

Beautiful
community

Learn from the world’s most unique and significant cultures, in breathtaking remote locations.

South Africa volunteer projects

Overview
Programs
Location
Ethics
FAQs

In South Africa, GVI’s community volunteers work alongside community partners, offering assistance in areas where the community has identified a specific need. The end goal is self-empowerment and sustainable development.

We aim to be part of improving the quality of life for people in the communities we engage with – through inclusive engagement, quality education, equal access, and raising awareness. 

Our community development volunteer and internship programs in South Africa specialise in: 

Why it matters

South Africa’s major cities, economy and society have developed rapidly over the last 30 years, but there is still a wide wealth gap in the country, where underserved communities need support from extra-governmental organisations. 

GVI’s South Africa community development volunteer programs and internships offer support to local teachers – assisting with second-language English classes and contributing to youth learning skills through sports. We also work with women and young girls on public health education programs and projects that encourage self-empowerment and gender equality.

Youth programs in South Africa

Youth volunteering programs or internships in South Africa include teaching, sports and work in early childhood development. 

Teaching in South Africa

Our teaching program runs during school term-time. Volunteers offer assistance to local teachers, based on the needs of the learners identified by teachers. The learners are not first-language English speakers, which means they face difficulty transitioning into the fully English academic syllabus that’s implemented from grade four onwards. To make this transition easier and more manageable for both learners and teachers, volunteers do one-on-one tutoring to ensure each learner receives individual attention and support.

Two key characteristics of a volunteer on this program are being fun and being creative. The best way to keep children attentive and eager to learn is to make lessons fun and engaging. You will play an important role in this creativity by assisting teachers with lesson planning and implementation. 

Sports volunteering in South Africa 

GVI aims to implement sustainable sports programs in local schools. As well as balancing physical and mental health, the sports program also provides learners who are not academically inclined with the opportunity to excel in another area of the curriculum. This boosts all-round confidence, inclusivity and equal opportunities to learn. 

Early childhood development programs in South Africa 

Teaching is the core of this program, with the main focus placed on English and maths. Because learners are so young, they can easily get distracted, so we encourage volunteers to be as creative and engaging as possible. This interactive approach to teaching also helps learners to develop both fine and gross motor skills. Volunteers only offer assistance to local teachers and do not run lessons on their own. 

Women’s empowerment programs in South Africa 

Gender inequality is a long-standing issue in many communities around the world. Girls still don’t have equal access to education, and women don’t have equal access to employment opportunities. 

You can join a women’s empowerment volunteer program or a women’s empowerment internship to assist women in empowering themselves through various educational, public health and income initiatives. We also provide platforms for local women to meet and discuss their experiences and ideas on empowering themselves – to spread positivity and support, and encourage further involvement in the community. 

Some of the women’s empowerment initiatives include alternative income-generation skills workshops. These can involve support with computer literacy and English, and information around available employment opportunities. 

We also run public health workshops where we share valuable information on preventative health, like everyday hygiene practices, and discuss prenatal care. Additional education support is also offered to young girls in local schools to ensure equal access to education for all. 

Public health programs in South Africa 

To support and encourage healthy lifestyles in the communities we work with, GVI public health volunteers and interns assist other GVI volunteers across all programs. 

As either a public health volunteer or a public health intern, you will spend most of your time assisting on educational programs that teach the benefits of physical health, hygiene practices and nutrition.

Our community development programs in South Africa are based in Cape Town. Also called the “Mother City”, Cape Town is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, known for its natural beauty, rich history and food. 

Our base is 45 minutes away from the city centre, in the coastal village of Gordon’s Bay. From here we run our community development projects. Our volunteers work at a local primary school and a local nursery school in a nearby informal settlement (known as a township) called Nomzamo. GVI volunteers work with children from three surrounding communities: Nomzamo, Lwandle and Zola. 

When volunteering in South Africa, you will get the chance to immerse yourself in local cultures by working side-by-side with community members. You’ll have the privilege of learning about the language, cuisine, music and traditions of South Africa’s many distinct cultures. On any given day in South Africa, you might hear any or all of the 11 official languages: isiZulu, isiXhosa, Tshivenda, Southern Sotho, Northern Sotho, Setswana, Xitsonga, siSwati, and isiNdebele, Afrikaans and English. 

In addition to some of the world’s best beaches, hiking trails, museums, gardens and restaurants, Cape Town also gives you the opportunity to explore these must-see attractions:

  • Table Mountain: You have the option of hiking to the top on foot, or taking the cableway and enjoying a perfect view of Cape Town on the way up. At the summit, you can enjoy a meal, take pictures and purchase handmade items to take back home. 
  • Boulders Beach: Forming part of the Table Mountain National Park, this beach is especially popular for its penguin population. The environment is protected by the CapeNature conservation organisation.
  • Robben Island: Famous for housing the notorious Apartheid-era prison where human rights activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner, former president and father of the nation, Nelson Mandela, spent 18 years fighting for the freedom of people of South Africa.

Across all our work in education, youth programs, women’s empowerment, public health, community development and sustainable solutions, our actions are guided by local organisations with roots in the community – team members who are on the ground and monitor and maintain ethical standards and practises, in an ongoing effort to ensure our work remains inclusive and equitable. 

All GVI programs and staff are governed by our ten ethical principles and five human empowerment principles and our actions against oppression. Our badge of ethics reflects our pledge to continuously reflect on and improve our policies and practices. 

All our staff and participants are required to complete a police background check before arrival on the program, and on-site child protection training is provided once they arrive in the host country. We also protect children from cyber and real-world threats by ensuring that our marketing follows child protection best practices.

GVI does not support orphanage volunteering. For more information, see our stance on orphanage volunteering. We also support ChildSafe, a global child protection initiative, and regularly review our comprehensive Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection policy

You can read about the work we’ve done with the help of volunteers like you in our Impact and Ethics Report

GVI is a British Standards 8848 compliant provider

Who can volunteer in South Africa? 

You can! 

Maybe you’re considering a gap year abroad. Maybe you want to contribute to community work across the world while studying. Or you’re keen to get a meaningful summer internship under your belt. Maybe you are taking a career break and want to give back. Maybe you are looking for a new career, and want to explore an internship in community development. 

No matter how far you want to go, we can help. 

Who qualifies as a volunteer in South Africa? 

You do! We don’t require any pre-existing qualifications or certifications.

Most of our community development volunteering or internship programs require that you be 18 years or older, but we do also offer specially curated teen volunteer programs

Please note that as part of our child and vulnerable adult protection policy, each volunteer, intern and staff member must complete child protection training before starting on any project that involves interaction with children. All our volunteers, interns and staff are also required to complete a police background check before they can sign up to any of our programs.

Is it safe?

Extremely safe. We take every precaution to make sure our participants can live and work safely, no matter where they are in the world. We have trained support staff on hand 24 hours a day to ensure that all participants across all our programs are well taken care of.

Read more about our health and safety protocols

You can speak directly to one of our enrolment officers or alumni, who can answer any and all questions you might have about life in Cape Town or life on the GVI base. 

Do I need to know any other languages to volunteer in South Africa? 

Most people in South Africa speak English. English is one of South Africa’s official languages and all public and government communication is conducted in English. 

Who will I live with?

You will work alongside GVI volunteers of all ages, from all over the world. This is an opportunity to meet people from a range of backgrounds. Our international team of GVI staff will be at every location to guide volunteers throughout their time on our programs. On community-based projects, volunteers work closely with local community members.

I’m interested. What are the next steps? 

We’d love to have you! You can enquire or apply here.

Join a community internship and get an exclusive offer

Book by 31 October 2022
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New and Exclusive: GVI Experiences

A locally curated selection of extra activities are now included across our programs.

Experience a shisa nyama

Experience a shisa nyama

Visit Africa's largest art collection

Visit Africa's largest art collection

Take a sunrise beach yoga class

Take a sunrise beach yoga class

Snorkel in a kelp forest

Snorkel in a kelp forest

Paddle with endangered African penguins

Paddle with endangered African penguins

Try a sunrise cold-water immersion

Try a sunrise cold-water immersion

Visit UNESCO World Heritage Site Robben Island

Visit UNESCO World Heritage Site Robben Island

Hike up Table Mountain

Hike up Table Mountain