Named the best place in the world to visit by the New York Times in 2014, this South African gem promises to deliver nothing short of a life changing volunteer abroad experience. Referred to fondly as the Mother City, Cape Town, South Africa offers more than just breathtaking views of Table Mountain. Aside from many other natural wonders, Cape Town is an incredibly multicultural city, offering up a myriad of cultural delights. Those who choose to volunteer in Cape Town will find placements in nearly every field and numerous opportunities to positively impact communities for years to come.
Projects & Placements
The options for volunteering in Cape Town are plentiful, ranging from wildlife conservation and youth development, to business and human rights advocacy.
Working with children is common and can include projects such as: teaching English, sport coaching, and orphan care.
Building & Development. Building schools, initiating microfinance projects, and generally contributing to economic development of the city are all ways individuals can make a lasting impact through volunteering and participating in community work in Cape Town.
Health Care & Nutrition Education. International volunteers with a background in healthcare or nutrition have the ability to share a very valuable resource with locals, education in disease prevention, hygiene, healthy eating, medical techniques, and more. Nutrition and health care volunteer placements in Cape Town are highly needed and available.
Wildlife & Conservation. Equally rewarding volunteer work in Cape Town entails working with animals or contributing to conservation efforts, in which there is no shortage of opportunities.
Program Basics. Volunteer opportunities in Cape Town can vary in length from two weeks to six months, or can even be customizable. Program highlights often include cultural activities, homestays or communal housing, and free time, where volunteers can partake in the bountiful opportunities to explore South Africa.
Life in Cape Town
Activities in and around Cape Town make life in the Mother City exciting and awe-inspiring. From hiking to the top of Table Mountain, to exploring the Capeland wineries and many beaches, Cape Town has become a mecca for tourism, providing endless options for sightseeing, adrenaline rushes, and culinary masterpieces.
The currency in Cape Town is the rand (R), which is divided into 100 cents (¢), and prices for food and drink are usually considered quite reasonable for volunteers. Credit cards are widely accepted, and ATMs are available. However, travelers are warned to watch out for ATM scams by avoiding non-guarded or after-hours machines and refusing any offers for help completing a transaction.
While volunteering in Cape Town, volunteers will find that the city’s diversity requires individuals to be prepared for a variety of situations. Many program providers tell volunteers to remain open-minded, something that is not uncommon for traveling anywhere in the world; but due to South Africa’s troubled history, and status as a developing country, it is even more important to be flexible and understanding of the culture and realities as a volunteer in Cape Town.
Accommodation & Visas
Most volunteer programs in Cape Town assist volunteers in obtaining a visa and arranging housing. Tourist visas are relatively easy to get, however, volunteers should always research visa regulations as they are subject to change. The majority of volunteer placements in Cape Town offer prescreened home stays or dormitory housing options, which will no matter what be comfortable and clean accommodations.
Benefits & Challenges
Volunteering in Cape Town provides a unique chance to contribute to the transformation of a once unstable city into a city of hope and possibility. While there are still many challenges to overcome, hence the need for dedicated and motivated volunteers, Cape Town’s relaxed atmosphere and booming economy appear to be the light at the end of a dark tunnel.
As a volunteer in Cape Town, individuals will be able to learn how to work in one of the most multicultural cities in the world and communicate with people from all walks of life, skills that are coveted by many employers and international careers. The multicultural, diverse nature of the city provides a slightly more comfortable transition into volunteer work in South Africa for first-time volunteers too.
Volunteering abroad in Cape Town offers volunteers a plethora of opportunities to make a difference, providing benefits for individuals interested in almost every field.