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GROUP VOLUNTEERING PROJECTS
Organising Voluntary Projects Overseas for GROUPS since 1994.

SOUTH AFRICA

CULTURAL ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES AND COMMUNITY AND CARE VOLUNTEERING

This programme is an exciting mix of volunteering in the local community and lots of adventurous cultural and conservation experiences.

Your volunteering segment can be tailored to your choice of either caring for children in a safe-house or creche, or teaching disadvantaged children in township schools, or coaching sports to underprivileged township children.

Your cultural adventures include trips to observe dolphins and whales from a boat and experience them close up, a conservation experience in a wildlife game reserve, feed and walk with orphaned elephants, and learn about monkeys in a Monkey Rehabilitation and Release Centre.

This programme is designed to enable you to contribute your much-needed efforts to the local community and make a difference that will continue after you leave, and at the same time, give you a wonderfully exciting experience of many aspects of the local culture! This is an excellent programme for groups!

EXCITING NEWS! ARGOED HIGH SCHOOL WINS SKY SPORTS LIVING FOR SPORTS AWARD

We are very proud to announce that Argoed High School has won the Sky Sports Living for Sports Award for their outstanding sports coaching with Travellers in Knysna last year.

Last year, 3 teachers and 26 students from the school volunteered in the local community of Knysna for 2 weeks helping to coach sports to children at local township schools. The local children absolutely loved their sports workshops with the Argoed students and got stuck in straight away. We were really impressed by the Argoed students’ hard work and enthusiasm.

Well done, Argoed! It goes to show what you can achieve! You really did make a difference. (See photo below)

SUMMARY: THE BASICS

  • Price: £1,195 per person for 2 weeks. £220 for each additional week. Excludes flights.
    Please see Full Price List & Other Currencies
  • Duration: 2 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements
  • Start Dates: all year round, subject to availability – you choose your start and finish dates
  • Requirements: Minimum age 17, unless accompanied by parent or guardian.
  • What's included:
    Arranging your Programme
    Full pre-departure support and assistance
    Payment Protection insurance
    Meeting you at the nearest Airport
    Accommodation
    Food
    Daily transport to and from your project
    Transport and entrance fees to cultural excursions
    Return transfer to the airport
    Local in-country team support and backup
    24-hr emergency support
    Certificate of Completion
  • What's Not Included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas.
Argoed School showing off their Sky Sports Living for Sports Award. We're thrilled, I mean, how great is that??!!
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PART 1: YOUR COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERING PROGRAMME:

Here your group can make a choice regarding whether you'd like to teach children, care for children in a creche or safe-house, or coach sports to township children. The choice is yours!

  • Teaching Children: You'll teach disadvantaged children in township primary or secondary schools. Generally you'll teach conversational English or a variety of other academic subjects if you'd like to, as well as Sports, Drama, Arts and Music. You don't need qualifications because you'll be assisting the teachers in classes.
  • Care for Children: Here you'll either work with children in a creche, assist with our Street Kids project, or assist at a safe-house:
    (1) In the Safe-House, you'll assist the trained Carers in the local township by helping to care for children from abusive backgrounds. You'll work with a variety of ages, from assisting in the soup kitchen, general caring for the youngsters, and observing counselling to HIV sufferers. You'll help with basic Reading, Writing, Maths, games, homework and generally keep them stimulated and entertained by providing educational activities.
    (2) In the Creche you'll help prepare the children for primary school. Many come from underprivileged homes and therefore any help they can get from volunteers is greatly appreciated. You'll use fun activities and educational programmes to greatly benefit their social and mental development.
    (3) In the Safe House Project, you'll help out with anything from basic schooling, such as reading or writing, to community projects and life skills lessons. Your work will combine many aspects that all help to provide a caring environment where guidance and assessment is offered to children living on the streets and children at risk. The purpose is to prepare the youngssters to re-enter mainstream schooling and domestic home life again. A very worthwile project.
  • Coaching Sports to Township Children: Here you'll combine sports coaching with some teaching in poor township schools in the coastal resort of Knysna. Sport classes are run in conjunction with the Life Orientation classes. The purpose of these classes is to develop Team work, Confidence, Self Esteem, Communication Skills and Leadership. You can coach a variety of sports, such as Cricket, Football, Netball and Rugby. The average class size is between 15 and 40.

PART 2: CULTURAL AND ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES PROGRAMME:

We've included a number of conservation related elements to your programme, allowing your group to gain greater insight into different aspects of wildlife conservation, as well as learn more about the various native species of South Africa. The activities include:

  • Game Reserve: You'll visit the Southern Cape's biggest game reserve, with more than 2200 ha spread out across the hills above the scenic Garden Route coastline. With its breath-taking views across Plett and abundance wildlife with an excellent chance of spotting three of Africa’s Big Five – buffalo, lion and rhino.
  • Elephant Park: You'll have the opportunity to touch, feed and photograph these gentle giants. Elephants love eating, so don’t forget your elephant snack bucket! The elephants are orphans rescued from culling operations. They play a vital role in closing the gap between man and animal, allowing us to better understand the plight of the African Elephant and that of their peers in the Knysna Forest. There are no barriers or fences to spoil the close encounter.
  • Wildlife Sanctuary: The Wildlife Sanctuary is home to big cats such as lions (white and tawny), cheetahs, tigers (Siberian, Bengal and white), leopard (spotted and black), jaguar, pumas, caracal, serval cats and other wildlife species such as zebra, wild dog, springbuck, gorilla, honey badger, raccoons and various snake species. The focus is on conservation education and specifically the plight of large predators in captivity, in South Africa and all over the world. This visit is not just about viewing predator cats - it is also an informative experience. The experienced and trained guides will take you on a tour of the sanctuary and introduce you to all the sanctuary inhabitants. Dictionaries define a sanctuary for animals as merely a place where animals are protected from hunting. A true sanctuary for “big cats” and other wildlife should, however, also be a place of refuge to protect them from much more than hunting and/or the petting trade.
  • Monkey Rehabilitation Centre: This centre rehabilitates and frees previously caged primates. Many species live at the sanctuary and are free to move about the forest. During a guided safari, you will see a variety of primates, ranging from Gibbons of Asia to Lemurs of Madagascar. The knowledgeable rangers tell visitors all about the fascinating mammals as they are encountered roaming free in the forest. Visitors also learn about the rich diversity of the forest, from the bird life to the intricate workings of the forest itself.
  • Bird Aviary: Not to be missed, a trip to the largest ‘free flight’ bird aviary in the world! This unique two hectare dome (the worlds’ largest) spans over a gorge of indigenous forest. It has its’ own canopy walk, which hangs above the clouds. The sanctuary was developed to create a safe environment in which to release a large collection of free-flight African birds.
  • Whale Watching/Marine Eco Tour: Knysna is one of South Africa’s best whale watching destinations and this institute is one of the projects where we place marine volunteers. The ocean adjacent to its’ sweeping coastline abounds with whale activity during winter and spring. Many other extraordinary marine species are seen here throughout the year. Students should encounter a host of wonderful marine life in the blue depths adjacent to Knysna, including the Bryde’s whale, (a year-round resident of our waters), dolphins, seals, sharks and many species of bird life. The tour will also highlight both the geological characteristics and the biodiversity of Knysna’s estuarine and marine environment.

VOLUNTEERING PROGRAMME SAMPLE WEEKLY ITINERARY:

  • Day 1:
    Morning: Arrive at George Airport; transfer to Volunteer House, Knysna. You'll be given an Induction into the area and local culture, plus lots of information on day-to-day living in Knysna, including all the Dos and Don'ts.
    Afternoon: Relax and get to know your new home or explore the local area
    Evening: Welcome braai* in the evening (weather dependent).
    * Braai is the South African word for "barbecue".
  • Day 2:
    Morning: Volunteering - either Sports coaching, teaching or care.
    Afternoon: Township Tour – Travellers works extensively with the local township in our volunteering efforts, so a tour of this area is an enlightening experience and an opportunity to interact with the local people. Collection and drop off from Volunteer House.
  • Day 3:
    Morning and Afternoon: Volunteering - either Sports coaching, teaching or care
  • Day 4:
    Morning and Afternoon: Volunteering - either Sports coaching, teaching or care
  • Day 5:
    All Day: Visit to the Elephant Park, where you'll do some volunteering assistance in feeding and walking with the elephants, and possibly some elephant environment enrichment.
  • Day 6:
    An Adventure Activity - Including Lunch, a hike and a visit to the Tsitsikamma National Park. On the way back we'll stop at the World’s highest bridge bungee jump for viewing.
  • Day 7:
    A Relax and Recover Day! You're free to do whatever you feel like. You could relax and chill, explore the town, read a book ... the choice is yours. You'll have to prepare your own meals, but we can arrange for you to have a barbecue if you'd like to.
  • Day 8:
    Morning and Afternoon: Volunteering - either Sports coaching, teaching or care
  • Day 9:
    Morning and Afternoon: Volunteering - either Sports coaching, teaching or care
  • Day 10:
    Morning (or afternoon): Whale Watching/Marine Eco Tour
    Afternoon (or morning): Volunteering - either Sports coaching, teaching or care
  • Day 11:
    Morning and Afternoon: Volunteering - either Sports coaching, teaching or care
  • Day 12:
    Morning and Afternoon: Visits to the Wildlife Sanctuary, Monkey Sanctuary and World's largest free-flight Bird Aviary.
  • Day 13:
    A Relax Day, Time to prepare for departure. You're free to do whatever you feel like - perhaps a last goodbye look around the town, a trip to the beach.
    Afternoon (or evening): A farewell barbecue.
  • Day 14:
    That saddest of all activities - transfer to George Airport and final departure. Try to take your heart back with you ... if possible!
  • Note: The schedule is merely an example and the order of the above activities will change depending on local conditions, such as weather.

ACCOMMODATION

The volunteer house in Knysna is within walking distance of the town, yet set against a natural green belt. The bird life is prolific and often the local Vervet monkey troop comes to visit to entertain the volunteers with their antics. The sunset views from the top balcony of the volunteer house of the Knysna lagoon are beautiful and great way to relax after a day working at your placement or to catch up on your tan in the summer. See photo on right-hand side.

The house is large and spacious and also has a self-contained flat downstairs for couples and families. y volunteer placements. The bedding in the two same sex dorms and the towels in their ensuite bathrooms are changed regularly every Friday by our much loved cleaner, Pretty, and there is plenty of cupboard space to store your clothing.

Facilities include a kitchen kitted out for cooking, dining area, a few bathrooms, TV, DVD player, free Wi-Fi, garden and several wooden verandahs.

There is an outside courtyard and garden in the secure grounds where you can have a typical South African barbeque known there as a ‘braai’. Make sure you try the local spicy sausage known as ‘boerewors’ and the Karoo lamb chops are to die for on a ‘braai’, but if fish is more to your taste then a fish ‘braai’ with South African ‘snoek’ is a must.

FOOD:
You'll be given a food budget which will cover your basic essentials (but not extras like alcohol, snacks and eating out). The kitchen has all the cooking amenities that you might need to take advantage of preparing meals with some of the great seafood, meat, fresh fruit and vegetables South Africa has to offer.

There are supermarkets and local shops where you'll do your food shopping.

There are plenty of excellent restaurants within walking distance that offer the most incredible local and international cuisine which our volunteers rave about. Knysna is also famous for its oysters and even has an annual Oyster Festival where everyone eats and drinks far too much!

The waterfront and marine is beautiful and full of restaurants and cafes with cuisine that ranges from breakfast, coffees, cakes and snacks, through to sumptuous meals and various different nationality menus.

The area is beautiful and travelling is easy. The house we stay in is lovely and the Travellers workers are such kind, loving people which really makes it feel like a home away from home. What with all the other volunteers and the Travellers staff, it really does feel like our own little family ... well, our own very big family, I suppose!! Luke Brennan

WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT

  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten overseas volunteering holiday into Asia and the wonderful Sri Lankan culture!
  • The enormous satisfaction of helping the local community in many ways and knowing that you made a difference to them.
  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.
  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!

OBJECTIVES FOR YOU

  • Under Construction!

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

  • This page is still under construction

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

YOUR SAFETY, SUPPORT AND BACKUP:
Read important information about the Support & Backup you receive before you leave and during your programme.

Read about the Safety and Security measures we take to ensure your safety and wellbeing while on our programme.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT?

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind. Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity!

VOLUNTEERING WITH CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE ADULTS
As well as protecting all our volunteers, Travellers Worldwide is committed to protecting all our projects and dedicated to practices which protect children and vulnerable adults from harm. Read Travellers' Child Care and Vulnerable Adults Policy.

REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK:

GINA RIZZO BISHOP
American
Care Work at Youth Centre
Plus Care at the Street Kids Project, in Knysna

I currently spent the last month in Knysna, South Africa working at a Youth Development Center in the township of Khayalethu. My experience with both the children and staff of the Center, as well as the staff from Travellers Worldwide, far exceeded my expectations. My stay ended, in my eyes, much too soon but the entire journey will always be a part of me.

From the moment I stepped into the Center I was thrown into a world of complete diversity, both culturally and individually. A world I, at first, could not relate to on many levels. The environmental and cultural distinctions, within the children, were very apparent but I quickly began to understand the workings of this community and grew to love it beyond measure. No amount of advice or research could have prepared me for the impact this place would have on me nor the closeness I would soon feel toward both staff and kids.

Each day I felt grateful to participate in morning devotion and gathered inspiration from the Center leaders which helped fortify my motivation for working with the kids. I happily accepted the task of working with the crèche (preschool) kids and the close relationships I was able to build with them made my experience all the more rewarding.

In the morning I was able to work through a teaching plan of reciting and writing the alphabet, counting to 50, animal flashcards, and songs with fluid participation. Late morning I concentrated on interactive activities and group participation which I felt the children responded to wonderfully. On many occasions, the other volunteers and myself, would bring tables, chairs, and the children outside for arts and crafts activities or games.

During many of these activities I could see the normally frantic minds of these children calm down and focus on the task at hand. This was a unique observation of behavior and after a month together it was even more evident that the children completely understood what was being asked of them, and how to produce the desired results for which we were asking. I believe that many of these children are in dire need of ways to express themselves and therefore tried to give them as much creative liberty as I could. I was stunned at the amount of concentration they had developed, in a short time, and the way they adjusted to a new person offering new routines. Some of the most memorable times were when I brought in a jewelry kit to make necklaces, and T-shirts for them to paint on and take home. Even the youngest of the bunch, Lumco, who is 4 years old, sat in quiet determination getting each small bead through the thinnest of string.

Small moments like this were monumental in my eyes and the things that will inevitably leave the greatest impact on my memory.

Around the second week I began to develop an attachment to these children that began with hugs and kisses in the morning to walking them home in the afternoons. It was such a unique experience to share the smallest exchange of cultures. By the end of my stay I had taught many of them what both "butterfly" and "Eskimo" kisses were and they were ever so eager to give them to me at my arrival each morning. I shared the simplest of exchanges with one of the youngest girls, Angel, where I would sing to her "Angel I love you" and she would reiterate "Gina I love you" over and over again. It was the many small things that happened at Youth Center that made my time there so powerful.

Sharon, the Travellers Volunteer Liaison, was more than willing to help me fill my days by arranging and allowing me the opportunity to volunteer time at the Orphanage down the street. After a fulfilling day at the Center, I was able to share my love for dance with a handful of orphaned children. The enthusiastic response I received from those kids was just an added treasure to my stay. Helping with bath time, letting them braid my hair, laughing, and playing were sources of so much reciprocated joy. I could feel the reaction and see how thrilled they were each time I turned on the music and it was so worth it! It was evident that this was such an added gift of excitement to their normal everyday routines. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have experienced and connected with the children at both the Youth Center and the Orphanage.

Monday through Thursday, mid afternoon, I did a dance program for both the kids at the Center, as well as the children of the township. I was overwhelmed by the participation and enthusiasm I received from the kids.

They responded profoundly to the music and, although I had my reservations, they caught on quickly to what I was offering them. It was immediately apparent that most of these children had never been to an organized "Dance Class" therefore it was inevitably a process of adaptation and flexibility on both our parts. The cultural and style diversity of our movement made it a learning experience for all of us! So many of the boys at the Center were naturally blessed with good rhythm and a passion for music that it wasn't hard to see what our common bond would be. I was more than thrilled to make and hand out over 30 mixed CDs in hopes they could enjoy it long after I left.

I can't express the way it made me feel to walk through the township hearing the kids call my name and see them doing a dance I had taught them.

Because most of the children are fluent in their native language, Afrikaans, their proficiency in English is minimal. However, music and dance is so universal that it was definitely the best way we could relate to each other and far more profound than grammatical technicalities.

I truly believe the Youth Centre is a necessity on so many levels to the people and children of this area. It is a "safe haven" for educational, social, and individual development that so many of these kids need. The lack of funding is a monumental disadvantage when there are people willing to spend time and energy mentoring, teaching, and promoting happier children there.

Personally, my time was short, but there are leaders and long-term volunteers who possess the capacity to help guide so many of these children who have gotten so far off course. This Center offers a place of refuge to children who desperately need physical, mental, and emotional assistance in life. The kids are in far worse condition than I had ever anticipated, and the circumstances are larger than I had ever known. But, for every harsh reality they have to endure... there is so much underlying beauty. The smiles on these children are wider and the love in their hearts deeper than anything I had ever seen before.

Amidst the confusion of adolescence, and the uncertainty of their day to day lives, these children find joy in so many unthought of ways. Once we were all comfortable the affection, love, and respect I felt was unparalleled. It is my deepest hope that the Youth Center gains the financial backing and support needed to match the dedication and enthusiasm of the people who lovingly run it.

As for the kids of this township, I can't say how many of them will mention my name in a few months but that isn't important to me. If only one kid was able to feel loved and special, for even a second of my time there... it was completely worth it. If I was able to shed some light on who they are, what they could be, and the capacity for their lives... than the result far surpasses any monetary value it actually took to get me there.

I went with the intentions of bringing who I was, and what I love to do, to them but, who they were enlightened and drastically shifted who i am. It is my greatest hope that the lasting affect each of them has had on me is felt in return. I expected the place and the children would change me in some way. I had a preconceived idea of what I could bring and the rewards I would take away from this experience but, in reality... it was more than I could have ever imagined.

My heartfelt thank you to those who contributed support on my behalf, the staff and kids at the Youth Centre and the Orphanage, Travellers Worldwide, Sharon, and all of the other volunteers. I am forever changed and eternally grateful.

DEANNE PETERSON
American
Care Work at Youth Centre
Plus Care at the Street Kids Project, in Knysna

I embarked on this journey in revolt to my recently turning 40. As a business owner, wife and mother of two teenage boys, a month long journey to Africa seemed like something far reaching and beyond my reality. My vacation experiences prior to this were always family oriented and/or resort style, including room service, umbrella drinks, amusement parks, cruise ships, and guided tours. I wanted to see and do as much as I could and experience as much of South Africa as possible but with family and work obligations, time was an issue.

My journey with Travellers Worldwide gave me the opportunity to see a do all of the things a vacationing tourist would do, while the volunteering gave me the chance to meet many local people, and get to know so more about the culture and the people of South Africa. I was able to see and do more than I ever imagined possible in one month.

From my very first inquiring email to Travellers all my questions and concerns were answered with the efficiency and accuracy of a world-class travel agency. I was put in touch with people who worked on the projects I was interested in and other volunteers as well.

My accommodations and work experiences were exactly as described and better than I'd expected, the project managers went above and beyond to ensure the volunteers had everything needed and wanted. Many of my travelling companions were recent high school graduates, as a mother, I couldn't have imagined sending my 18 year old son on a trip like this before seeing it for myself.

Now without a doubt I will be planning a volunteer experience with Travellers for both of my sons after their graduations. All in all this was the most wonderful, fulfilling, and incredible, month of my life!

Before this journey, like many people my age, I was stuck in my regular every day rut of work and routine. But after a month of diving with great white sharks, working with orphans and street kids, animal safaris, zip-lining through jungles, and sky-diving(!!) I have returned fully invigorated and with a new lease on life! I also made friends from all over the world that I’m sure I will stay in touch with for years to come.

Travellers is an amazing organization that offers life changing experiences to people of all ages, I will highly recommend it to everyone, and I will be planning another volunteer experience for myself as well as for my sons. Thank you so so much for the experience of a life time!