Volunteer in SA – Choose Your Charity

The holidays are coming around again soon.  What better way to spend some of your time than to pay it forward?  Volunteering is a great way to give of your time.  If you are an exchange student, this is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the South African culture.

While enjoying your studies in sunny South Africa, you may be interested in doing some volunteer work. Volunteering, either with the university you are doing your exchange through or volunteering with a particular organisation in that town, can be an extremely rewarding experience for everyone involved. By volunteering, others are able to benefit from your skills, knowledge and efforts, and in return, you benefit from committing yourself to a worthwhile cause.

Below, you will find a list of volunteer organisations.  For each of our top 8 universities, you will see one organisation that is directly affiliated with the university, and one organisation that is independent of the university but in its nearby surroundings.

University of Cape Town

  • SHAWCO:

The University of Cape Town offers a huge range of volunteering opportunities through the Students Health and Welfare Centres Organisation, (otherwise known as SHAWCO). One project they offer is the Rural Health Project, which aims to provide health care services to areas lacking in healthcare facilities. If this is something you would like to get involved with contact SHAWCO:

Phone: +27 (0) 21 406-6740

Email: health@shawco.org

  • Helping Immigrants in Cape Town:

With a rise in recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa, it is important to consider immigrants and refugees. So consider giving your time and skills at the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town. The centre assists up to 50 people each day to search for jobs, create CVs, write cover letters and learn new skills through a series of workshops. (Please note that a three-month commitment is required for this programme). For more information about the Scalabrini Centre and their volunteering options contact:

Phone: +27 (0)21 465 6433

Email: Kaelynn@scalabrini.org.za

University of Pretoria

  • The Mnisi Community Programme:

The University of Pretoria is one of the few Universities in South Africa where you can study Veterinary Science and offers a number of opportunities to volunteer especially in the field of animal welfare in underprivileged areas. Mnisi Community Programme draws attention to the relationships between humans and animals (or livestock and wildlife) with the ecosystem. The programme aims to educate the community about disease ecology and emergence, livestock production and trade as well as natural resource utilisation and focuses on the upliftment and development of resource-poor communities. If you would like to know more about this programme contact:

Phone: +27 (0)12 529 8339

Email: jacques.vanrooyen@up.ac.za

  • Helping our Wet-Nosed friends in Pretoria:

The Wet-Nose Animal Rescue Centre is an animal shelter which rescues, rehabilitates and re-homes abused, abandoned and neglected animals. If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of our fellow animals, then this is the place to do it! They are always looking for volunteers to spend time with the animals and assist with cleaning the kennels. If you would like to get involved contact:

Phone:  +27 (0) 13 932 3941/2

Email: wetnose@absamail.co.za

University of Stellenbosch

  • SciMathUS:

The University of Stellenbosch offers a number of community-based volunteering options including the SciMathUS programme. The programme is run by Stellenbosch University and offers students who have not qualified to get into a University based on their results, a second opportunity to improve their NSC results (in specific subjects) to enable them to apply for university programmes. Preference is given to students from educationally disadvantaged circumstances such as poverty or poor health. The students will follow one of the following two curricula:

  • Mathematics and Physical Sciences. These students rewrite the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination in both subjects; or
  • Mathematics and Introduction into Financial Accounting and Introduction in Economics. These students rewrite the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination in Mathematics.

If you would like to get involved in this awesome programme contact:

Phone: +27 (0) 21 808 3032

Email:  info@sun.ac.za

  • Reaching out to the Youth in Stellenbosch:

Youth Outreach is an Organisation running programmes for street- and high-risk children under 18 years, in and around Stellenbosch. The programme offers a place of temporary safe care as well as an early intervention Drop-in centre. The programme aims to get children, who have been found on the streets, back into mainstream education as soon as possible. If you would like to be involved in this amazing programme contact:

Phone: +27 (0) 21 886 6216

Email: youthoutreach@webmail.co.za

University of Witwatersrand

  • The Emthonjeni Centre:

Wits offers a number of different volunteering opportunities which correlate with many of the courses they offer through the Community Engagement Programme which focuses on community engagement as an active form of academic citizenship. One such partnership offered by Wits is the The Emthonjeni Centre. The Centre is an initiative by the School of Human and Community Development at Wits and offers psychological, social work, speech pathology and audiology services to the public. The Centre provides quality services at nominal fees for the disadvantaged communities. If you would like to get involved please contact:

Phone: +27 (0)11 7178663 or +27 (0)11 717-4513

Email: Thandi.Buso@wits.ac.za

  • Helping vulnerable children in Johannesburg:

Cotlands is a non-profit organisation which aims to address the education and social crisis by creating early learning playgroups and toy libraries in underprivileged communities to serve vulnerable children from birth to six years of age. Cotlands provides a number of ways to get involved in this well established programme, from joining or creating a campaign, to shaking a tin outside your local shopping centre toy making toys for the children.  They are always looking for individuals who are willing to donate their time and/or services. They encourage potential volunteers to check out the volunteer policy and manual before applying.

To get involved contact:

Phone: +27 (0) 11 683 7201

Email: info@cotlands.org

University of KwaZulu-Natal

  • The Train of Hope:

A well-known volunteering programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal is the The Phelophepa Train of Hope This programme is an excellent platform for community based training. Students accustomed to the ideal clinical settings are able to access training on the train which will allow them to adapt to a rural setting. The programme consists of two unique trains that operate as mobile healthcare hospitals, bringing much needed medical and educational services to impoverished rural areas of South Africa. To jump on this train contact:

Phone: +27 (0)21 2229 0500

Email: info@phelophepa.org

  • Offering Aid in Durban:

Helping at the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust is an incredible opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those suffering from and affected by HIV and AIDS. The centre aims to provide unconditional love to all infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in a practical and sustainable way. The centre has a long- term vision to see the elimination of HIV-related stigma, new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in our region. If you would like to get involved in the centre you need to fill in a volunteer info form or contact:

Phone: 031 765 5866

Email: info@hillaids.org.za

Rhodes University

  • RU Community Engagement Programme:

Rhodes University, offers countless opportunities for volunteering with the Rhodes University Community Engagement Programme. In conjunction with the Rhodes English Department, Rhodes also offers The Ntsika Reading Club. The club is a ‘Friends of the Library’ and Department of English collaborative project which aims to promote the appreciation of literature and serves to improve reading skills in less privileged schools and environments. The club meets at Ntsika Secondary School in the local township – Joza, in Grahamstown once a week in order to read to and with the students from the school.

If you would like to know more about the The Ntsika Reading Club contact:

Phone: 27 46 603 8400

Email: c.booth@ru.ac.za

  • Helping out at Hospice in Grahamstown:

Grahamstown Hospice offers two interesting volunteering options: “caregivers” and “Friends of Hospice”. The Hospice offers a caregiver’s course, which, once completed, enables you to be paired with someone who needs extra care on a long term basis. They also welcome help with fundraisers (organising fundraising events on behalf of Hospice) and an extra hand at the Sunflower Shop in Grahamstown never goes amiss. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the Grahamstown Hospice:

Phone: 046 622 9661 (Grahamstown Hospice)

Email: hospice@telkomsa.net

University of Western Cape

  • Substance Misuse Project:

The University of the Western Cape offers a number of initiatives for Community Engagement. One such initiative is the Substance Misuse Project. The project was developed in response to the need in the Western Cape and the Provincial Government’s drive for higher education institutions to become actively involved in the training of professionals and community workers in the area of substance abuse. If you would like to get involved in this initiative contact:

Phone: (021) 959 3124

Email:  ahellenberg@uwc.ac.za

  • Helping the Children of Bonnievale:

The Bonnie People Community Project is a community development project in Bonnievale, Western Cape. The project is particularly focussed on the needs of the children in this area. The project runs a feeding scheme for all the children of the squatter camp, it also hosts a daycare facility for children 0 – 2 years, and a nursery school for the 3-6 year olds and facilitate youth activities. If you would like to get involved, fill out the contact form on their website or phone:

Phone: 071362 0156

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

  • Believing in Change:

CPUT offers a community engagement and work-integrated learning programme. The programme aims to forge new paths with the community on social justice, health issues, HIV and Aids and education in the area. The Believing in Change (BIC) project is a student-driven initiative which draws attention to environmental sustainability in the Langa Township. The aims of the project include: creating awareness on environmental aspects and global warming, promoting a Green economy in our communities and promoting a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet. If you would like to get involved in this project contact:

Phone: +27 21 959 6767

Email: info@cput.ac.za

  • Assisting the children in Cape Town:

The Al-noor Orphanage Centre is a registered non-profit organization and registered welfare children’s home and aims to protect vulnerable orphans; HIV/AIDS infected & affected & abused children by providing them with accommodation, education, medical, cultural and human basic needs. The orphanage is attached to various schools, and as a volunteer, you will be expected to teach or provide care to these children. If you are interested in being involved with this centre please contact:

Phone: +27 21 447-8472

Email: amina@alnoorphanage.org.za

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There are countless ways to get involved in SA’s communities and it is never too late to start! The rewarding and challenging experience is one which will stay with you for a lifetime. Find out where you can get involved today!

In the words of Nelson Mandela,

A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”