Give your time, love and enthusiasm to deprived kids in schools and nurseries in Port Elizabeth. With your help, the kids will gain confidence in the classroom, improve their English and take more enjoyment from their studies. The kids are desperate to learn, and this immersive programme not only helps to support their educational goals, but their overall chances to succeed in life!

Duration: 4 – 12 weeks
Dates: See arrival dates and availability here
Arrival day: Saturday
Return day: Saturday
Eligibility: Beneficial but not essential to have experience with children
Age: 17+


  • Helping to change the future for some of the poorest children in Port Elizabeth
  • Meeting volunteers from around the world
  • Seeing the enjoyment and happiness on the kids’ faces as they learn
  • Exploring the best of South Africa in your time off

Port Elizabeth, South Africa


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.

Volunteering with children in schools

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.

The children are mainly aged 7 – 14. 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 Africa is a rewarding experience, and gives you an insight into an upbringing far from your own.

Volunteering with children in a nursery

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 crèches are running on minimal funding.

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.

Coaching sports in township schools

If you are sporty, you can also help to coach sports in the township schools. Sports include football, rugby, hockey, swimming, netball, tennis, cricket and basketball. To find out more about coaching sport whilst you volunteer in Africa, visit our sports coaching website.


  • The accommodation is located in a leafy suburb 10 minutes’ drive from the city centre and sea front
  • On site are the charity offices, staff accommodation, volunteer dormitories, kitchen facilities and living areas
  • Childcare and teaching volunteers share accommodation with sports coaching volunteers
  • Single sex dormitory rooms with shared toilets and showers
  • On site is an outdoor swimming pool, miniature gym, TV lounge and games room
  • WiFi provided


  • All meals are included
  • Breakfast consists of cereals, toast, spreads, tea, coffee and fruit
  • Packed lunch usually consists of sandwiches (tuna, chicken, cold meats, cheese, salad), crisps and fruit
  • Dinner, prepared by a local cook, can include lasagne, cottage pie, roast chicken, sausage and mash, chicken stir-fry, chilli con carne, macaroni, BBQs and potije
  • All dietary requirements can be catered for, as long as we know about them in advance
  • Volunteer with children work will make you hungry – many volunteers choose to supplement their meals with snacks bought in the local shops, just 10 minutes’ walk away
  • There is a volunteer kitchen where participants can do any cooking they wish outside of mealtimes

Want to go travelling afterwards?

  • We can arrange a week-long Garden Route tour after your time on the project.
  • Follow the link to find out more about the Garden Route Tour.

Travel arrangements

Airport: Port Elizabeth (PLZ)
Arrival day: Saturday. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to the project
Departure day: Saturday. You will be dropped off at the airport.

Supporting You

Nick and his team of 23 members of staff will be overseeing the sports, teaching and childcare projects in Port Elizabeth. They are on hand to support you throughout your time away, and are dedicated to the volunteers and to their projects.


  • Access to your own personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the program and manage your booking
  • Dedicated contact time with an experienced destination manager to discuss the project, answer any of your questions and for us to find out more about you
  • Help and advice from our UK office before arrival and whilst you are away
  • In-country support
  • Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and project advice
  • Gold level, 24/7 Pharos crisis management and incident support cover
  • Financial protection: ATOL (if we book your flights); IPP (if we don’t book your flights)
  • Thorough orientation on arrival
  • Accommodation (see the ‘accommodation’ section above for details)
  • Advice on visa requirements
  • Oyster plants a tree in Africa with TreeAid to help reduce the impact of global carbon emissions
  • Three meals per day
  • Airport and project transfers
  • Several weekend, evening, adventure and social activities/trips. Find out more.
  • Monthly donation to provide 2 children with one meal a day for a year

On your return:

  • Help and advice following on from your programme
  • Certificate of recognition (on request)
  • References (on request)

Not Included

  • Flights – as an ATOL bonded company, Oyster can book flights for you
  • You need a valid passport that meets the requirements of the country you will be travelling to
  • Insurance (covering your time with Oyster and any planned independent travel)
  • Any costs associated with changing your return flight date if you need to
  • Independent travel costs
  • Home country travel costs
  • Spending money for additional trips, food and entertainment
  • Criminal Records Bureau check/ police check
  • A reference from a recent employer/ teacher or otherwise

More Information

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. 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.

It’s incredibly rewarding to see the children develop under your care, but the experience will change you too. Volunteers come away more independent, confident and more aware of the hardships faced by many on this planet.

06:45 – 07:30 Breakfast
08:00 – 14:00 Teaching project
14:00 – 15:00 Lunch
15:00-16:30 After school clubs (a few days each week)
18:00 Supper

06:45 – 07:30 Breakfast
08:00 – 14:00 Care work projects
12:30 – 13:00 Lunch
13:30 – 17:30 Free time to plan lessons and activities
18:00 Supper

The simple answer is yes, absolutely. You can even combine teaching and childcare with sports coaching too if you wish. Just let us know your preferences when you 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.

Port Elizabeth gets moderately hot summers, and mild winters. It is one of the richest rainfall areas in South Africa. Most of the rains occur in the winter months, brought on by the humid sea winds from the Indian ocean. The area is perennially green, making it a beautiful region to visit.

  • Spring: late August to October.
  • Summer: November to March, with December to February seeing mid-summer daily temperatures of about 24-30ºC.
  • Autumn: April and May, with average daytime temperatures in the low 20s.
  • Winter: June – August, where the days can still be warm (up to 20ºC), but expect chilly nights.

We would recommend budgeting £60-£100 per week.

There is easy access to cash machines in Port Elizabeth so you don’t need to take all of your cash with you.

If you are going for over 4 weeks, you might like to consider getting a cash card. Cash cards are a safe and convenient way to take your money travelling with you – they act just like debit cards but do not have the same fees as you might have to pay on your bank cards from home. Check out our blog for details on how the card works here.

No visa is necessary for under 90 days from UK and most western European countries. You will receive a tourist stamp upon arrival allowing you stay in the country for free for up to 90 days.

You need to make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 30 days after you leave South Africa.

Most of our volunteers are independent travellers and you will become part of a group of people from around the world here. It is fine to travel with friends or as part of a small group too however- more the merrier!

The simple answer to this question is, yes absolutely!

It is important to bear in mind however that this may not be like other holidays that you have taken. Remember that you are volunteering, and this means that you will be put to work! This sort of holiday is a world away from sun loungers and cocktails, with our volunteers often heading home tired but immensely satisfied. If you think that you will need a bit of relaxing time on your trip too, do make sure to factor this in when your time on the project is complete.

You should visit your doctor or travel nurse to find out what vaccinations you will need. Your routine vaccinations will need to be up to date; hepatitis A and Typhoid are likely. You should follow your doctor’s advice.

Please check below for where the closest hospital to the project is – your doctor may ask to know this so that they can provide information on rabies.

For any more information, including entry requirements related to Covid-19, please see the Fit for Travel website or the UK government’s travel advice page for South Africa.

There is good access to pharmacies, doctors surgeries, first aid clinics and hospitals in and around Port Elizabeth. The main hospital is a 20 minute drive away and there is 24/7 access to vehicles.

Port Elizabeth is known as the “Friendly City” (but also the Windy City!). It is at the far end of the Garden Route linking it to Cape Town. This makes it very much on the tourist trails and you will not feel out of place here! The city is very modern with large shopping malls, a beautiful promenade and great free time activities.

The accommodation is in the leafy suburbs of the city, in a very friendly location. Crime in South Africa is mainly concentrated in the larger townships of the country. Whenever you go into the townships this will be as part of the project with full time staff who will be with you. The team is very well known in the areas and everyone knows the amazing work that our volunteers do so you are very welcome indeed.

You are advised not to walk alone at night time and to take a taxi back to the accommodation if you have been out and about at night time. The streets are less well lit in South Africa than you might be used to at home.

  • The town centre is about 10 minutes’ drive away
  • There is a mini supermarket within easy walking distance and restaurants and shops about 5- 10 minutes walk away
  • Transport in Port Elizabeth is very good, with excellent links throughout the city

There is wifi access available at the accommodation but this can be intermittent and you will need to take a device to be able to connect to it. There are also internet cafes available in the city centre.

There is good phone reception.

South Africa is 2 hours ahead of GMT (GMT +2)

In South Africa, a mixture of European plugs and South African plugs are used.

Port Elizabeth is a hot-spot for travellers worldwide and with its abundance and variety of exciting activities there is no wonder why. You will be able to experience all the delights of the local area, including the game reserves, its renowned scuba schools and friendly nightlife, as well as its 40 km of the golden beaches.

Included in the project price is a whole assortment of sports and adventurous activities for you to try out – if you can muster up the courage! Fully inclusive free activities and outings in a 12 week stay can be seen below. Several of these will be available in the 4 week stay or shorter durations:

  • Visit to Kragga Kama Game reserve – Port Elizabeth
  • Authentic evening meal under the stars at the Bushcamp Boma – Port Elizabeth
  • Traditional dances and drumming performance and workshop
  • Traditional play performed by local artists

You will generally in line with the school day so you will have evenings and weekends free. There are often socials laid on so there is lots to do in your down time.

You can read more from returned volunteer Saskia about her first weekend on the project.

If you would like to learn more about choosing the right childcare project for you, check out our guide to volunteering with children.

Supervision will be fairly intensive during the first few days, when you will receive a thorough induction and work-related training.  Once you are comfortable with things, you might not always have a supervisor working alongside you, but there will always be staff and other volunteers around to help, and you will always be accompanied for any high risk activities.

Staff at Oyster’s head office and in-country will be responsible for your safety and welfare while you are at the project.  This will start from the moment you are picked up from the airport until the time you are dropped back there.  Before and after these times, you will be outside Oyster’s responsibility and should make sure that you act safely and avoid risk.  This is also true if you choose to leave the project during your time off. We will give you plenty of guidance and advice about this. 

Got a question or want to chat to Project Manager Kate who has first-hand experience of the project? Call +44 (0) 1892 771 973or email: – [email protected].

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