As one of the most tourist-friendly countries in Africa, South Africa has so much to offer for travelers who want to explore the world, learn about new cultures, and make a positive difference wherever they go.
Geographically, South Africa is comprised of a 1,600-mile coastline with gorgeous beaches, an enormous Central Plateau bounded by the Great Escarpment and mountain ranges, and modern metropolitan areas such as Cape Town, Durban, and Port Elizabeth. It’s one of the few countries with multiple capitals (Cape Town, Bloemfontein, and Pretoria), and has 11 different official languages, making South Africa an incredibly culturally diverse country. And being close to the equator, it’s home to some of Africa’s most famous wildlife: giraffes, hippos, leopards, lions, and much more.
Despite the country’s amazing diversity, South Africa’s communities and environment face many challenges. South Africa’s high unemployment rate (just under 26%) means that many of its citizens live below the poverty line, and are unable to access quality education, healthcare, jobs, and other services. And climate change, pollution, deforestation, and human encroachment on natural habitats threatens South Africa’s environment and wildlife more urgently every day.
Volunteers like you can make a difference by working alongside local NGOs and international volunteer programs to educate, care for children and the elderly, empower people in need, conserve the environment, and protect animals from endangerment or extinction. As a volunteer in South Africa, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the country and immerse yourself in a culture different from your own, make a positive impact on communities in need, and pick up new skills and make lifelong friends.
Read on to learn about the many ways you can explore South Africa and plan the trip of a lifetime!
Nine Great Programs In South Africa
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) partners with NGOs worldwide to provide high-quality, affordable volunteer programs for travelers who want to make a difference in the communities they visit. Since 2007, IVHQ has placed more than 80,000 volunteers on 150 different projects across 35 countries all over the world. If you’d like to volunteer in South Africa with IVHQ, you have a lot of different opportunities to choose from, including environmental conservation, teaching, surf outreach, sport development, childcare, and computer training. No matter which project you sign up for, you’ll stay at a shared volunteer house close to your volunteer site. IVHQ’s South Africa volunteer programs start from just $250 for your first week abroad, and include airport pickup, orientation, program supervision, housing and meals, 24/7 support in-country, and administration costs.
One of the many volunteer opportunities offered in South Africa through International Volunteer HQ is the Surf Outreach Program, where you’ll volunteer with an after-school project for children aged nine to 15. Your work in building students’ self-confidence, providing a structured environment after school, and encouraging a healthy lifestyle is vitally important to these children, many of whom come from a background of poverty, abuse, and violence. You’ll help plan activities, teach children how to surf or play beach games, and assist with other daily activities at the surf development center. Each week, you’ll spend three days surfing, one day organizing games, and can even volunteer with teaching or childcare programs locally if you’d like. And while you don’t need a surfing background to apply for this program, you must be a competent swimmer.
Another way you can make a difference with IVHQ is through their computer training project, where you can teach basic skills to help individuals improve their employment and education prospects. Several small towns where IVHQ operates have internet cafes and public computers – and your job will be to teach desktop publishing, how to use the internet, and much more for community members that are computer illiterate. This program is operated by the local school, and depending on when you sign up, you may work on holiday projects or around exams toward the end of the term – however, this will allow you to assist volunteers and teachers on other projects, so there’s no shortage of work you can take on throughout your stay. To sign up, you must be computer literate, and preferably have relevant qualifications in your subject area.
If you would like more information about these two projects or the other opportunities that International Volunteer HQ offers in South Africa, please visit this page.
What Volunteers Say: Review from Denisse
Volunteering abroad has been in my bucket list since I started it. So this summer I found the opportunity to travel and volunteer with IVHQ, totally recommend it. I felt completely safe all time! Wish I could have stayed longer…I definitely miss seeing the kids smiling at me every afternoon.