Cape Town has always been a popular destination for volunteers. Aside from the fact that there is an ample amount to see and do in your free time, there are many organisations in dire need of assistance. And if you’re already a resident, there’s no reason why you can’t also get involved and offer up some of your free time.
Organisations range from animal shelters right through to soup kitchens, and all would be very grateful for your time. Although most will accept anyone’s assistance, there are several companies that exist to help with placement and logistics for foreign visitors. These companies charge fees to volunteer workers, but many provide a level of backup and support while in South Africa that volunteers are willing to pay for.
If you’re looking to volunteer while in the city, here are 10 organisations to consider.
DARG is the Domestic Animal Rescue Group. They are a non-profit organisation that rescues and cares for previously neglected, abused and abandoned dogs and cats. They are situated in the popular seaside suburb of Hout Bay, and do a lot of work to assist surrounding communities and their pets. Much of their work is done by volunteers, and they are always looking for passionate and dedicated people to get involved with their work.
Hout Bay Rd, Scott Estate, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 (0)21 790 0383
TEARS (The Emma Animal Rescue Society) is another well-respected animal rescue centre in Cape Town. They are based in Sunnydale, and do an immense amount of good work to help neglected and abused domestic animals. They accept volunteers 16 years old and up, including dog walkers.
Lekkerwater Rd, Sunnydale, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 (0)21 785 4482
Etafeni has been doing remarkable work with young children in the Cape Town township of Nyanga for many years. They provide a care centre for children affected by AIDS and their caregivers. As part of the programme, they provide a preschool, vegetable garden, nutritional guidance, and an AIDS Counsellor programme. Though much of the work is specialised, they are always looking for volunteers from across the spectrum to assist.
Sihume Road, Nyanga, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 (0)21 386 1516
The Haven Night Shelter has branches throughout Cape Town that do a vast amount of good work for the city’s homeless. They offer people from all walks of life the opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community. Volunteers get involved with meaningful tasks at either specific shelters, or the Haven Shelter Head Office.
2 Napier St, Green Point, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 (0) 21 425 4700
This non-profit organisation based in Hout Bay runs holistic after school care programmes for children of informal settlement Imizamo Yethu. They provide physical and emotional care for a wide range of children in need, and accept volunteer assistance from anyone able to allocate some time. There are several projects to get involved in, from traditional after-school activities, through to fundraising, online and marketing assistance.
South Africa is home to a variety of amazing coastal birdlife, much of which has come under threat from pollution and human activities and habitation. The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, or SANCOB, is attempting to reverse some of the damage that has already been done. They have a dedicated team that helps rescue and rehabilitate a wide range of sea birds, and are always looking for assistance from local and international volunteers. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work alongside the team and, weather permitting, can accompany them on a seabird release trip at the end of the programme.
22 Pentz Dr, Table View, Milnerton, South Africa, +27 (0)21 557 6155
Cape Town’s Scalabrini Centre takes more than 2,000 refugees, migrants and asylum seekers each month and assists them with various programmes to help with integration into local society. They work closely with volunteers who assist with all aspects of their work, including welfare, advocacy, development and outreach programmes. They offer part and full time volunteer opportunities, but due to the nature of the work request that volunteers spend a minimum of three months with the organisation.
47 Commercial St, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 (0)21 465 6433
The Saartjie Bartman Centre for Women & Children, or SBCWC, does amazing work to assist women who are survivors of abuse. They provide safe spaces for survivors, and offer assistance child care and legal advice. They have several volunteer opportunities available, which include everything from hands-on farming and maintenance, through to volunteer counselling for those trained to do so.
Klipfontein Rd, Manenberg, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 (0)21 633 5287
Rape Crisis is the oldest organisation in South Africa that offers assistance to rape survivors. They assist and support survivors, help them to seek justice, and work to transform communities. They offer an intensive volunteer programme that includes training and orientation, but due to the nature of the work, typically ask that volunteers commit to a minimum number of hours each month over the period of one year.
23 Trill Rd, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 (0) 21 447 1467
Oude Molen Eco Village is a vibrant multi-purpose village set in a unique location in Cape Town. The village is home to a range of respected social enterprises that provide valuable services, but also benefit the local communities. They accept volunteers on a number of levels, including at their organic farm and stables.
Alexandra Rd, Pinelands, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 (0) 21 448 9442