Volunteer with kids in South Africa
Give your time, love and enthusiasm to kids in township schools and nurseries around Port Elizabeth. Encourage them in their learning, developing their English and giving them confidence in the classroom. Volunteers work alongside full time staff to provide support and an extra dimension to the education provided to these children.
Play an active role in helping to develop the lives of underprivileged children living in some of South Africa‘s poorest townships. The kids here are motivated to get a good education, and the presence of an English speaking volunteer stands them in very good stead for later life. Volunteer in childcare facilities or schools, or a combination of both, to help these children to reach their potential.
In the schools our volunteers assist the South African teachers with their lessons, helping the kids with their English and getting them involved in some great extra curricular activities. The children are mainly aged 7 – 14.
The schooling system in South Africa means that children from the townships often lack quality teaching, especially in English, and class sizes are often too big for one teacher to manage. Volunteer teachers are hugely appreciated to help overcome these challenges. Volunteers mainly help to teach English and Maths, although there is also the opportunity to help with other subjects such as Geography and Drama.
Many of the kids only receive one meal a day at home, and the schools are working hard to bring out the best in them – even though they have very few resources. Volunteering in these schools is a rewarding experience, and gives you an insight into an upbringing far from your own.
The childcare project takes place in a township crèche working with children aged 0 – 6 years. The South African system does not provide free pre-school care for disadvantaged families who cannot afford to pay childcare fees, so many of these creches are running on minimal funding. The care homes are inspiring places, working with the kids to give them the best chance in life.
It is important to have a deep affection for children and to be able to get along with them well, so that you can really bring out the best in them. Be prepared to become a “human climbing frame” (a term coined by one of our volunteers) as you do it. You will be focusing on providing stimulating activies for the children, as well as helping with their feeding and general care.
Who can join this project?
Everyone who is passionate about children can join this project. If you work as a teacher, a teaching assistant, a special needs coordinator or are part of an educational charity then your knowledge could be beneficial. The teaching in our project schools may be different to what you are used to and this project will provide you with the opportunity to widen your own understanding of how education works in South Africa.
Accommodation and Food
You will be sharing accommodation with other childcare and teaching volunteers, as well as the sports coaching volunteers. The accommodation is in a large area encompassing the offices and accommodation for some staff members, volunteer accommodation and living areas and kitchen facilities.
It is located in a lovely leafy area of Port Elizabeth. It caters for all tastes, with great gym facilities, a games room including pool, table tennis, table football and darts, a swimming pool and TV lounge with access to many channels. There is wifi available and all your meals are provided by a lovely homely cook, who prepares your dinner each evening. You take a packed lunch out to the projects with you each day, and breakfast is a large buffet affair.
The accommodation is located about 10 minutes drive from the centre and the sea front, and a couple of minutes walk to the local shops. It is a perfect place to unwind in the evenings, with plenty of space to chill out with the other volunteers.
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
Want to go travelling afterwards?
We can arrange a week-long Garden Route tour after some of the sports coaching sessions. Follow the link to find out more about the Garden Route Trip.
- Spend your days playing games, reading to children, making a fool of yourself and providing much-needed friendship and attention, in the knowledge that you are making a bunch of kids extremely happy and making a valuable contribution to their education.
- Enjoy a varied programme of trips outside volunteering including a township tour, lots of braais (BBQs), a trip to the surfing mecca of South Africa, and a visit to a game reserve.
- Get to know South Africa, its people, and its education system in a way that’s not possible as a tourist passing through.
- Enjoy the diversity of South Africa with its incredible climate, great nightlife and delicious food.
- Become part of a group of like-minded people, keen to help any way they can in Port Elizabeth’s township communities.
Whyshould I do this?
Life in Port Elizabeth’s townships can be very tough. For many of the inhabitants they can be lucky to expect one meal per day. Education is of the utmost importance in these communities – parents will push their children to excel, seeing this as the means to make a better life.
You will see very motivated and very happy kids coming from this difficult background, and this is what makes your time here so important. Whilst the schools in the townships are often very under-equipped, the determination to succeed is there, and the presence of motivated and enthusiastic volunteers can really help them move forward in their education.
Volunteers fly in to Port Elizabeth (PLZ) on the start date of the project, which is usually a Saturday. See here for the project dates. Port Elizabeth is a 90 minute flight from Johannesburg.
On arrival at Port Elizabeth airport you will be collected by a member of the team and taken down to the accommodation to settle in and get to know the rest of your group.
Nick, who runs the Port Elizabeth sports and childcare programmes, is our local representative. He, or one of his team, will meet you at the airport, get you settled in and will liaise with Oyster about your welfare and progress while you are there. You’ll have most interaction with Domineque, the volunteer co-ordinator. She is an ex-volunteer who loved it so much that she has been working there ever since! There are 23 members of staff at the foundation, and you will get close to many of them.
What is provided
- Before booking: Dedicated period of time on the phone or in person to discuss the project, answer any questions that you might have and find out more about you
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Help and advice from our UK office before departure and whilst in South Africa
- Advice on obtaining a visa (not required for EU citizens)
- Met and greeted warmly at Port Elizabeth airport and transferred to accommodation
- Food (three meals a day)
- Accommodation – dormitory style
- Full orientation and induction course in-country to orientate you and brief you on local matters
- 24/7 country support and back up.
- All transport to and from project sites
- Several weekend, evening, adventure and social activities/trips. See here.
- Monthly donation to provide 2 children with one meal a day for a year
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
- Oyster luggage tag
On your return:
- Help and advice following on from your programme
- Certificate of recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- Flights (Oyster can book for you)
- A full passport valid for a minimum of 30 days after your return date
- Visas (where needed)
- Insurance (we can introduce you to a policy)
- Personal spending money – laundry, drinks, independent travel (approx £100 per week)
- All home country travel costs (eg to airport)
- Criminal Records Bureau check/ police check
- A reference from a recent employer/ teacher or otherwise