Tips and Advice for a Teaching Volunteer in Cape Town

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Sophie, a school teacher back in her native England, spent two weeks volunteering on our Cape Town teaching projects! Combining her amazing volunteer experience with a fun-filled trip up the coast, read Sophie’s thoughts on her time with African Impact! 

I loved my volunteering experience with African Impact, I only wish I had volunteered for longer than just two short weeks! It’s left me wanting more and I’m already hoping to return.

If you are looking for a volunteer experience that is legitimate, sustainable and enjoyable all whilst making a truly valuable impact then look no further, African Impact is the largest on the ground facilitator of volunteer opportunities in Africa! So where you want to be and what you want to do is totally up to you, and trust me, you will be in safe hands!

So I chose to volunteer in sunny Cape Town with the teaching projects out there. I spent half my time supporting teaching at a pre-school in a local township and the other half with GAPA (Grandmothers Against Poverty & Aids) – a truly incredible project that supports grandmothers to provide after-school care, fun and food to children within the largest township community, Khayelitsha.

I learnt more than I could have imagined, not just about the culture and lifestyles of the communities, but also about the nature of volunteering itself. It’s about offering support whilst remaining completely sustainable, less about the hand outs and more about enabling and empowering others. This means that your impact is truly lasting and unforgettable.

At the pre-schools, you will meet some very special children who will fall in love with you as soon as you walk in through the front door! Their squeals of joy and the songs they will teach you will buzz around your head forever. I spent most mornings reading stories, teaching English, and supporting their play.

GAPA volunteers help to support grandmothers in providing a safe place where children can simply enjoy being children. Grandmothers often become parents again to their grandchildren as the middle generation are affected by HIV/aids – the project enables them to get together, offering care, love, and attention to the community children, and also give them an opportunity to start earning a small living again, making and selling unique hand-made toys, jewellery, and accessories which make fantastic keep-sakes and souvenirs!

You will have fun organising games and singing songs, playing cards, or painting pictures in the dusty yard. As a Primary School teacher back in the UK, I was amazed at what you can do with little resources! The children are strong, happy, motivated, and independent. They will fight for your attention and obsess over your hair, they will love you just for being there.

You will have plenty of fun at the volunteer house, making friends from all around the world. Theme nights, pub quizzes, coffee shop crawls! You will be pretty well looked after too by the wonderful Shecky and Jane! The cooking is traditional and delicious, and dinner is always on the table when you come home from project! They’ll even do your washing for you so that you can concentrate on the important things, like enjoying yourself, sorting resources or planning for more fun!

You will never be on your own. Fellow volunteers will become your family out there and with constant support from African Impact project co-coordinators and interns, you will work together to plan fun and engaging activities, and not forgetting the incredible local project leaders who are always on hand for a quick Xhosa lesson or two!

Cape Town is so vibrant and colourful, it’s constantly buzzing! There is so much to see and do that you will be spoilt for choice! We spent our weekends and free time exploring Obs (the volunteer house local town) where there is an eclectic mix of late night coffee shops, pubs, clubs, and live music!

We clambered up Table Mountain and abseiled down again, sampled tasty treats at the Biscuit Mill markets. We then joined the Cape to Addo tour at the end of our volunteer adventure, where we bungee-jumped, braved black-water tubing, and bare-back Ostrich riding! We sunned ourselves at a citrus farm and spotted elephants on Safari – a perfect way to round off an epic South African adventure. There are plenty more opportunities from shark-cage diving to sky diving, the possibilities are endless and your volunteering experience will be unforgettable.

So here are a few tips:

  • Bring a jumper (it gets cold indoors!)
  • Be open minded (if your friends want to stop off to try sheep’s head on the way to project – do it! Try the local treats, they will leave you wanting more no matter how strange they seem!)
  • Learn some Xhosa – the Gogo’s will appreciate a ‘molo!’
  • Why not pack a few extra resources in your back-pack – kids love to play cards and parachute games!

Volunteering provides a broader perspective on all aspects of life, it deepens understanding, and ignites intrigue. To volunteer is to learn, to enjoy, to experience. To be excited, exhilarated, and to explore a sense of awe and wonder. If it does all these for you, just imagine what you can do for others.


Volunteer with African Impact Cape Town City Projects – You know you want to!


African Impact offers a number of volunteer projects in Cape Town, including a teaching program, working with orphaned and vulnerable children, facilitating sports coaching projects, as well as a gender equality initiative, to apply to these projects simply search them in the top right corner (the magnifying glass).


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