One of our student Volunteering in Child Welfare in Stellenbosch
Many University students who take a Gap Year really enjoying going to foreign countries and volunteering or teaching. Even if you do not have a lot of experience in teaching English there are many worthwhile projects that you can attend especially in the Rainbow Country of South Africa.
South Africa is a huge country and depends on the goodwill of Gap Year students or University students or even Third Agers, who are looking to take time away from Europe and volunteer. Its a hugely rewarding thing to do and use your skills and knowledge to help other more disadvantaged children. There is always a Community Project or Development going on and some of the more interesting ones are listed and spoken of below.
Many University students enjoy the thought of sharing their knowledge with younger students. So many Volunteering students will enjoy the thought of helping in a local Township; working with children or other Development Projects. Many of these local children you meet will be low on life skills and even showing them how to write a CV or play a game of Football – to the Rules! – will be rewarding and enjoyable for both sides. If you are interested in doing teaching in some of the small Primary Schools and helping these children improve their English, or just being a classroom Assistant, then you will find that taking a TEFL Course, even a short one will benefit you. Take a look at some of the Courses held locally to you and see if you can obtain a TEFL Teaching Certificate before you arrive. Here is an example of a good weekend course, covering many of the mediums of teaching English.
Cokking a meal for 120 kids. Lovely tomato stew and rice.
You can see that they cover a lot of the important topics for teaching in classes.
Local Communities can be challenging but they always welcome any help and support they can get. You may find your life skills will be called into question on a daily basis but at the end of the day you will return home to your host family to relax before the next day.
A lot of the Projects will be around the Centre of Cape Town, especially in the very overcrowded Primary schools such as Chapel Street or even the area of Grassy Park. However, if you prefer to be further away from Cape Town, then schools such as Simons Town Junior School are ideal. Delightfully small schools from Junior right up to Senior High are located just outside of Simons Town, the Naval Community for South Africa. You can really take part in this Junior school and teach them English; help them with their Mathematics or take part in their Sporting Afternoons.
Perhaps you would prefer to do some Conservation Work in which case you should be thinking about contacting Charities such as Tears, which looks after stray and lost animals or the Owl Sanctuary over in Stellenbosch which is another popular project with Gap year students. There is also the Penguin Sanctuary over at Boulders Beach which tries to protect the Penguins and allow them to mate without fear of loss of life or interruption. This Charity also goes into local schools and speaks to them about Marine Conservation.
Volunteering in Cape Town is not all work and during the weekends you can visit some wonderful locations such as Table Mountain. A great place to hike to the top and watch the sun going down. Or wander around the Waterfront, idea for bargains and street music. Maybe you want to see and read more about Mandela and so book a ride out to Robben Island. If you have more than the weekend off, then book a visit to Kruger Park and just watch wild animals up close. It will have a lasting impression on you. Of course during that time you will make new and life long friends, not only in South Africa but through your Volunteering Projects with other Volunteers from countries around the world. Long lasting friendships are often made after work is done and you are relaxing with other Volunteer students either in your host family or out in local Bars and Cafes. You will be experiencing new things together and this is what makes the Volunteering Projects so long lasting an experience as well as fun. Speaking in English all of the time to your co-Volunteers as well as in the Schools; Townships and Community Project will allow you to improve your English naturally and before you know it, you will be speaking English like a South African!! You will know when that time is because you wont want your meat cooked on the BBQ but will be asking where the nearest Braai is! Or telling people to “ have a good day, further!” rather than just telling them “ Goodbye, and finally, when its time to go you will turn around and tell everyone that you have had a Lekker stay.