Known as the Mother City of South Africa, Cape Town has history that goes deep into the roots of their heritage and culture. Cape Town’s diversity of sights makes it Africa’s most popular tourist destination as you many sights to choose from mountains, beaches, wineries, and wildlife. The history of the city will give you hope for the future as the beauty is not only in the sights but the people that stroll the streets and feel the energy of new life within the city. Cape Town’s economy thrives from tourism which emphasizes the importance of diversity and culture awareness. People from around the world come to Cape Town to see the plethora of sights and also experience the diversity among the culture of the people that call it home.
What used to be a city filled with danger has been transformed into a city of possibility. With continued efforts from volunteers and organizations that support the city to be a place for the future, those who never thought they would have a future, now believe they will. Volunteers are the hope they need to help them address the fears they have to break away from their current paths.
Photo Credit: South Africa Tourism.
Many volunteer projects are available that fit your skill sets and interest. Here are just a few options for you to utilize your skills to help others.
Health: Cape Town continues to face challenges with cases of HIV/AIDS, due to tribal medicine campaigns and a lack of knowledge for many people. Volunteers with a medical background are therefore very much needed for actual care and awareness raising programs.
Youth development and education: Orphanages, schools, and community programs are great ways to volunteer with the future of Cape Town, the children. Many children do not receive the education or support they need. Options are available for assisting in the classroom and also through sports to help children learn development skills.
Conservation: With all the beauty Cape Town has to offer, there are many opportunities for volunteers to preserve the nature and maintain the environment and wild animals.
Community Development: Cape Town has many townships, where the people and communities are experiencing immense difficulties due to their poverty and unemployment. Volunteers are needed to increase the quality of life of these people by building the skills they may need to live and develop a trade.
Gender Equality: Many women are affected by domestic violence. Volunteers can help empower these women to be aware of their rights and transforming their lives.
- Volunteer Support: If you volunteer in Cape Town through an organization, they should have a support system in place. Don’t hesitate to ask them questions and get all the help you need. Your home country’s embassy or consulate can be reached in Cape Town for information and support as well. Getting involved in new things and meeting new people will help you make the best of your experience. Check out groups like Expats in Cape Town for support from other foreigners in Cape Town.
- NGO/Nonprofit/Volunteer History in Cape Town: Many organizations exist in Cape Town to address their challenges. From health to environmental issues, there are many opportunities to participate in a type of nonprofit organization you’re interested in.
- Know Before You Go: English is one of the official languages of South Africa, therefore you can find it easy to navigate and communicate throughout the city. Volunteers in Cape Town should always keep an open mind when visiting a new, diverse place and be respectful of their culture.
- How Volunteering in Cape Town Will Help Your Future: Volunteering in Cape Town is rewarding as you see the efforts of those that helped in the past as your efforts will help those of the future. Living in such a diverse culture will also give you valuable insight into working with new and different people. Allow yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and be part of an amazing adventure.
- How to Save Money While Volunteering: Consider all of your options when on a budget. Walk or take a bus versus a taxi if you know the public system and the area. Ask around for the best places to eat as restaurants are plentiful. Bargain at markets when shopping for gifts. Know where your money is going and keep track of your bank balance. Find out which banks have ATMs fees for your bank and which don’t.
- Questions to Ask: What amenities will be available? What type of transportation will I need to rely on daily? Are there other foreign volunteers where I’m going? What is an average day like for a volunteer?
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Cape Town:
No vaccinations are required to go to Cape Town but an immunization against Yellow Fever is suggested by the Embassy of South Africa and U.S. Department of State. Other recommended vaccinations for volunteers traveling to Cape Town include typhoid, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. If you are going to a more rural region, including the safari, yellow fever and malaria vaccinations may be necessary. A simple pain reliever and diarrhea/stomach medicine are also suggested. It’s important to be cautious about new foods and let your body adjust. Don’t drink tap water!
Travelers need to be fully aware of their surroundings at all times when in Cape Town as the crime rate is high, especially in theft, robbery and armed assault.
If you do visit one of the townships, go with an organized tour as signage is very poor in many areas outside of the city. Traveling with others, keeping your belongings secured, and being alert will help keep you safe during your visit.
Visas for Volunteering in Cape Town:
A tourist visa is not necessary for U.S., U.K., Canadian, or Australian citizens for a visit up to 90 days. Tourist visas for most visitors can be obtained at airport immigration or any Peruvian border. More information on business and other visas can be found at VISA HQ.