Volunteer in South Africa with SASTS

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About

SASTS believes that international voluntary services help empower local communities by developing self reliance and sustainability, whilst providing guidance and support on global issues such as poverty alleviation, skills training and development. We aim to help improve the quality of life of many local South Africans, whilst uniting groups of people with a common cause, and empowering them to make a difference in society.

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Reviews

89%
based on 16 reviews
  • Impact 8.8
  • Support 8.5
  • Fun 8.6
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 8.6
Showing 1 - 15 of 16
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Catherine
10/10

great to go with vacation or study abroad program

I had a little bit of a different experience in that I decided to do this after my study abroad program. I was already used to the area and felt very safe where I was. With that being said, I moved in with a host family and really became a part of the township culture. It was a great experience after driving by there for months while I was attending the university down the street. The area is a short walk from the college scene and you are literally right on top of a railroad that leads into Cape Town. While I wouldn't stay in the township at night, there were enough things close by. As long as you practice safety precautions while out and about and are respectful it's a very safe place to be! The kids you work with are amazing and you'll gain a new perspective quickly from working with them. They come from very little but have a light in their eyes like you couldn't believe. The teachers are awesome as well and passionate about what they're doing.

Yes, I recommend this program
Lara
9/10

A wonderful time in South Africa

From the beginning to the end of my trip, I enjoyed my life in Cape Town as much as possible. The organization, the staff, the other people- everyone made my time so incredibly wonderful!

To start with, I got picked up by the "host dad" at the airport. Then we went to my home for the next three months: a big house with a lot of room, a nice kitchen, garden and a big living room. I shared my room with 5 other girls that came from all over the world. I quickly felt really comfortable and everyone was so nice to me. In the next weeks, we had so much fun together. We went to the beach, to our workplaces, the city or just having a drink at our favorite bar in town. Our house had one of the best and safest locations in Cape Town, so I always felt really safe.

Every Monday until Friday I worked in a creche. I was supposed to sing, dance and play with the children which were between two and four years old. Not only the children were unbelievable nice, but also the teacher have been friendly at all. They were very interested in my German culture and how I am feeling.
Although the kids have been veeeeeery energetic, I always had so much fun and couldn't stop smiling. Sometimes, I just thought what these kids make them so different from the German kids. Well, I quickly recognized that the little Africans do not ask for mobile phones, tablets or other electronically stuff to play with. No, these children asked me to put a doll with a blanket on the bag so that they can "cook" lunch for me...

Always when I came home from work (that was around 12 o'clock a.m ;-) ) I was asked how my day has been so far and how I am feeling. That was great. In addition, I was able to have some "specials" on my trip to South Africa. Once I did a gigant skydive. Furthermore I joined several (cheap) trips around Cape Town and see the most beautiful beaches I had ever seen!

I would really commend everyone not just to work. But also life your live there. Enjoy every moment as much as you can. Be a "yes- sayer".

All in all, this was one of my most wonderful trips in my life and I would definitely go there again. SASTS - thanks so much for your support!

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would change is that I should be cooked in the house itself. We got food in a small cafe/restaurant, and that was not that good.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Dan
10/10

This Is How You Do South Africa.

I just came back home from one of the most enjoyable months of my life, from Cape Town, South Africa.

I volunteered with SASTS after a recommendation from a friend last August for about a month. I was placed in the township of Kayamandi with a gracious host family and put into a school where I got to teach some of the coolest kids ever. I lived an adventure volunteering as I connected with my learners in grade 6, and even took some of them out to experience Cape Town. I was able to teach English grammar, mathematics, and computer literacy. I even tried my hand at a TON of excursions offered like sky diving, hiking Table Mountain, safaris, shark cage diving, bungee jumping, surfing...geez what else?? Besides the learners I connected with that came to my home stay everyday after school, I met some pretty cool volunteers from all around the world that I hung out with on my free time. Yes I did a lot, and SASTS didn't mind that I would take some time off to go and experience all the amazing things South Africa had to offer.

The whole time I kept in touch with Clyde, the head of the organization, and let him know of my adventures and he would contact me to check up. I was in good hands the whole time. A friend recommended this to me and now I am recommending it to people as well. If you volunteer here, go out and make the best of it because South Africa has so much to offer. I guarantee a very, very good time.

How can this program be improved?
To be honest, everything went very smooth. The entire staff I met was very friendly.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Princess1991
9/10

Nothing but love

I arrived in South Africa with a mind full of thoughts. How would my family be? How would I get along with the children, the teachers and my tasks??
I am from Germany. That means: Two completely different cultures had to live and work together, hand in hand.
I was told a lot of security stuff by my organization especially concerning night time and the care of health. Too much, if I am honest...
Unfortunately I only spent five weeks in SA but it was the time of my life in the end.
I loved everything beginning with the children, my host family, the whole mentality, the food and the people.
Everyday was special in its own way and this was just magic.
I learned a lot about life and the things you need and which are nice to have but unnecessary to survive...
The children are full of love and next to a simple pencil they mostly just needed a hug and nothing more.
The african lifestyle is easy, sometimes too easy when you are told to be picked up at 2 p.m. and no one arrives till 3.30 p.m..
So this is one point that could be improved for forthcoming volunteers.
So if you love working with children and if you are prepared to give a lot of your personality to someone who gives it back twice to you than participate in this program and I promise you'll definitely have the time and experience of your life.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Memory
8/10

Volunteer Overall Experience

My name is Memory Manyimo,come from Zimbabwe and i was the first Zimbabwean ever to volunteer with SASTS.My placement was at a preschool and it was eight weeks long.
The overall experience was very rewarding and enjoyed every bit of it.Cape Town is a beautiful city and during the weekends i had plenty of time to sight-see and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The preschool i was placed had a mixed group of both middle and lower class to the children were bit of a challenge as i had to learn each one's individual needs but i enjoyed playing and teaching them.Am sure i made a difference in their lives.
My host family were such lovely people who made me feel at home, Charlene the host mum was a very good cook and i looked forward to her every meal ,she was always full of surprises.i do not mind going back to volunteer again in a different country though to explore and travel other places. The SASTS staff did support me during my whole stay except noone came to pick me up on the last day, the host family had to cater for that expense.
The experience changed me in a very positive way, i realised my passion for working with children and right now am in the process of opening my own preschool. The neighborhood i stayed was not a very safe place , this one time the host mum's car which was parked outside was stolen when we where wide awake sitting in the lounge. Shooting happened during the day and innocent people where caught up in the gang fights.
The program costs were not appropriate for what was offered as i still had to pay money for accommodation at the volunteer house and had to cater for my own meals.I would have appreciated it better if i was told beforehand that the money i was paying was for Monday to Friday, i would have come prepared financially.The local community were nice people and staying with a host family was also great, as i got to live with 3 more volunteers from different countries. I brought a sleeping bag in the hope of going out camping but did not manage.Socially i had fun with other volunteers and visited most of the 'must see ' places of Cape town. One event i attended that i enjoyed immensely was the Cape Town Carnival festival. i would without regrets recommend this program to a friend.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Rmahoney
10/10

Living the dream in Cape Town

when i first arrived in cape town, i was so nervous with it being the first time i had every volunteered abroad alone. everyone was so kind and caring and i really felt appreciated.
the sasts group really looked after everyones wellbeing, my project was based in a school and after being there a few days i felt like i had known all the children and teachers all my life, i was really sad to see them go and I'm already planning my visit this year!

while in SA i did the worlds highest bunjee, did a shark cave dive to mention a few of the amazing things that i did!

Yes, I recommend this program
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MLH
7/10

Wonderful Experience!!!

The only thing I didn't quite love was the fact that I was told I would be doing the Sports Education program, but then I was told a week prior that I would be teaching instead.

Also, I was told I would be staying in a home stay, but when I got there I found out I would be staying at the SASTS house.

Both of these things were okay, I just wish I knew ahead of time instead of last minute.

Response from South African Students Travel Service (SASTS)

Hello MLH
Thank you for taking the time to review our program.
We are pleased that you had a great time in South Africa
Your insight is important to us and we have used your experiences to improve and better manage future volunteers experiences.
Regards
The SASTS Team

Yes, I recommend this program
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Irene
9/10

Volunteering In Kayamandi, Stellenbosch. Truly Amazing!

I spend 5 weeks volunteering in a Township near Stellenbosch, had an amazing host family and my project was also very fun. Helping those kids in second grade was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. It was an experience which I will never forget nor will I forget about any of the amazing people I've met, like the other volunteers, my host family, the teachers and the kids. I also had some great weekends in Cape Town, partying & sightseeing with the other volunteers. It was a life changing experience!

Thank you so much to all the people of SASTS for making my experience truly amazing!

Yes, I recommend this program
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AndreaVA
10/10

Even a short trip can make a difference

I went through SASTS to volunteer at a preschool in Athlone for two weeks last summer. Everyone at my school embraced me and we stay in touch still. I had a bit of a problem with my host family, but SASTS responded immediately and pulled out my roommate who was supposed to stay there longer. They also informed us that our family would not be used again, because of our complaints.

The SASTS staff was always willing to help us out and on the weekends, staying at the volunteer house was perfection. We were surrounded by other volunteers, who were easy to trust and created a safety net so that I would not have to go anywhere by myself. I have recommended this program to a bunch of friends already and encourage everyone to look into it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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CM
7/10

Misleading, Unorganized and Did not feel my time was a Valuable Experience

I volunteered through Volunteer HQ who placed me in South Africa with the SASTS organization Jan-March 2011. Although I was told I would be doing a surfing outreach after-school program, a week before departure I was informed this program no longer existed and could choose between a teaching program or to work at an orphanage. I chose to do orphanage work and didn't find out the details of my program until I arrived in South Africa. I was placed at a daycare where the children spoke no English and the teachers were annoyed by my presence. I asked to switch to the community school where I had a much better experience due to a lovely teacher, however I was not really needed and felt they were doing me a favor rather than actually contributing in any constructive way. The SASTS office did not seem to care/nor aware that I had not been placed at an orphanage and I wanted to switch programs and did nothing to try to assist a change in program. I also found out that my host family only received a very small portion of my costs to stay with them, and think its ridiculous that SASTS makes so much profit from "organization". Their job is to place volunteers in a program that they want to do and feel is valuable and that is the service they failed to provide. Fortunately I was placed with a great group with other volunteers and decided to make the best of the experience, however I do not credit SASTS with this.

Please note that I am not simply an angry participant, I have volunteered with many programs overseas and have taken a masters in International Development, I am very aware of what I am talking about and the complex issues of volunteer work. Although good intentions may be there, this company does not provide what it says it does. However it is much cheaper (or was) than many other programs and perhaps you get what you pay for. I would recommend staying at a hostel (even the SASTS hostel which is great) and trying to contact a program yourself that you would like to work at. Its not as hard as you might think.

Response from South African Students Travel Service (SASTS)

Hello CM
Thank you for taking time to review our organisation.
Unfortunately we identified a safety concern with the Surf program and decided to temporary suspend that program until our concerns were addressed, we apologies for this inconvenience, we always put safely of the volunteers first.
Volunteering is not a guaranteed out of the box good experience, great experiences are rewarded to those that take the time to make themselves valued at their placements, flexibility patience and understanding are values that contribute to a positive experience.
For your 6 week program we received $825.00 or $19.50 per day, this includes,airport collection, 1st night at a city hostel, an orientation, walking tour of Cape Town, Transport to your project, a 24 emergency number, accommodation and three meals a day,7 days a week, the largest portion of this money goes to the host parent.

Regards
The SASTS TEAM

No, I don't recommend this program
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anonplease
9/10

SASTS Cape Town

I had a fantastic time volunteering for SASTS and am planning a revisit to South Africa to catch up with friends i have met whilst volunteering.

I was picked up from the airport by a minibus, which came just for me and had more than enough room for my bags. The SASTS house is in a fantastic location, less than a minute’s walk from the sea, a 7/11 and half a dozen pubs and restaurants.

The SASTS house is always full of volunteers, newly arriving as well as those who return to the SASTS house for the weekends. There is always something to do, whether it is hiking Lions Head, chillin out at camps bay or organising a tour to the garden route.

My second day was spent making friends with other volunteers, organising future trips and getting ready to hit Long Street.

The following day the volunteers were transported to the SASTS HQ to attend an induction talk, before being taken to our host families.

I had so much fun on my placement. I feel that the work i did in the schools really benefited the children, i got to live with a real family, not in a fancy hotel and really emerge myself in their culture. If you get the chance just go it barely costs anything as well...

Yes, I recommend this program
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AC
10/10

SASTS Volunteer

My volunteer experience in Africa was way beyond what I expected. I enjoyed my placement with the kids at the school and cottage. I also was placed with a really nice and welcoming host family. MaSimba and Howard from SASTS were also helpful. Overall I really enjoyed my time there. I would recommend this program to anyone thinking of volunteering in South Africa.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Wielath,
8/10

A great and challenging time!

I'm a primary school teacher back home and I made great experiences teaching abroad. It was quite a challenging though.

I worked in a school where many stundents in my class had major problems in counting, writing and reading. I think it would have been more helpful to give a systematic coaching to them. expl: one to four stundest per hour or extra lessons for them. Unfortunatelly I wasn't that long in the school to develope this kind of coaching. Eventhough I had the feeling that some of them really improved a bit and finally got the basics.

Living in a hostfamily was a great experience and the food was good. Well I gained a bit of weight because it was oftern quite greecy.
The area where i was living (Athlone) was quite calm. I didn't felt save all the time, but it was really ok. If you have a bit money with you and no bags etc, I think you are quite save. Its just different from the place where I am from...

Yes, I recommend this program
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Moritz
9/10

Cape Town Thornton Road Primary

During my stay in SA I worked for 9 weeks at a small primary school in the cape flats and stayed at a host family close to my project. My host family was outstandingly nice and really integrated me into their family. The work at school was demanding but interensting.

SASTS really cares about its volunteers and if there's a problem you'll receive immediate and professional help from them. At least, that's what i heard from other SASTS volunteers in Cape Town. I, personally never had the need to contact them, since i was absolutely happy with my host family and my work at school.

Many people at home were a little worried when I told them that I was gonna go to Cape Town because of criminality and stuff. But, quite honestly, if you act a little "street wise" you won't have any problems. Try to stick to the locals. In my case, I learned a lot from my host brother who introduced me to the capetonian night life ;)

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sidmouth
8/10

Great Program good value, met heaps of people

an overall good time, learned alot about myself and enjoyed the diversity of the City and the people.

Always lots to do over the weekend and the sites where great, I had a wonderfull host parent, and the kids at the school where amazing.
Thanks to all the hostel Staff and Howard and his Wife, I miss you guys

Yes, I recommend this program

About South African Students Travel Service (SASTS)

SASTS is a not-for-profit (section 21) student and youth travel organisation dedicated to providing high quality, affordable international educational and work exchange programmes to students and young people.

SASTS has played an integral role in...