Why Help Children in South Africa

Home | Blog | Why Help Children in South Africa

Childcare volunteering can be immensely rewarding, not just for you, the volunteer, but also for the children and communities that you are there to help. Now, more than ever, there’s an urgency to help children in South Africa and improve the country’s failing education system, which is still undergoing repair following its COVID-19 backfall. That’s where your help comes in!

On February 7th, 2022, children in South Africa officially returned to full-time schooling for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. And prior to that, according to statistics revealed in 2021 by UNICEF, around 500,000 learners dropped out of the South African education system over the course of just 16 months, causing significant behind-the-curve learning. The latest statistics also show that learners are now between 75 percent and a full school year behind where they should be.

This disruption is caused by a number of factors, including poverty, which is more common in informal urban and rural settings, as well as COVID-19-related losses that have compromised children’s safety. Although this is difficult to realize, there’s still potential to help children in South Africa and transform educational outcomes in the nation, especially in early childhood development, where there is a notable need for financial and training support.

The government is urged to improve access to funding and resources for early childhood learning programs. Volunteers, however, can make substantial contributions beyond government funding. Through practical sports coaching and in-class pre-school teaching, our childcare volunteer programs aim to reduce behavioral problems, enhance socio-emotional competence, and improve self-regulation, contributing to overall better mental health and functioning for children.

5 Reasons to Become a Childcare Volunteer in South Africa

a woman volunteer writing on a paper and teaching young students

Volunteering with children can have a positive impact on both them and yourself. Read the list below to explore all the many reasons why volunteering with children in South Africa is a good choice to make and how you can engage in many meaningful experiences.

1. Contribute to Child Development

It’s important to recognize and take action to support at-risk children early on, as the potential benefits are far-reaching. Early intervention can lead to better outcomes for the children and their families, including improved school performance, better social skills, and fewer mental health issues. This can be done through curricula and school environments.

Our childcare volunteer programs offer another space to help cultivate this opportunity for young kids, regardless of challenges in their personal environments. By providing a safe and stimulating environment, our volunteer programs help children in South Africa develop their skills and reach their full potential.

2. Help Your Community

Your main motivation for volunteering with children is, hopefully, to help others. And if you really want to make a difference, it’s best to pick a volunteer program that you can stay in for at least a few months since there are so many benefits to community volunteering in Africa.

Staying longer will give the children a chance to get to know you. And for you, you get to build relationships with them as well as help them become more resilient and resourceful. These projects take time to settle into; it can take up to a month to feel settled in your accommodation and feel that you know what you’re doing each day with the children. Ask yourself: If you’re only there for two weeks, will you make the most of your experience?

a man volunteer leaning his hand on an armchair while writing on a paper to teach kids

3. Be a Good Role Model For Children

If your goal is to help children in South Africa, then that all starts with being a good role model. Taking this first step means you’ll always recognize and celebrate their achievements. By acknowledging their efforts and progress, you can provide a sense of encouragement and empower them to continue striving for their best.

Children really do look up to adults and their caregivers for guidance, so your role as a volunteer can significantly impact their character development. By setting a good example, you can encourage children to develop strong values, respect, and self-discipline. Your presence alone can remind them about the importance of kindness, empathy, and treating others with compassion.

4. Learn About Other Cultures

Working alongside local staff and living within small communities overseas gives volunteers a fantastic opportunity to get a unique insight into a new culture. Yes, it’s difficult to get past the language barrier at first, and maybe you’ll experience your own unique cultural differences, but at the end of the day, you’ll feel that it’s all so worth it!

The benefits of volunteering in South Africa are countless! Not only will you learn about other cultures, but it will also give local people the opportunity to learn about your culture. Working in cooperation and learning about each other is one of the highlights of the projects that we work on.

young students writing on a paper inside a classroom

5. Form Bonds with Families You Care For

When you volunteer in childcare, you quickly come to realize that trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. Establishing trust with the families you care for requires genuine care, empathy, and a willingness to listen. By actively engaging with parents and caregivers, you can gain a deeper understanding of each child’s individual needs, preferences, and concerns.

This trust-building process allows you to create a safe and nurturing environment for the children in your care, where they know they can rely on you for support and understanding. Becoming an integral part of their daily lives is the best way to help children in South Africa, and alongside that, you get to witness their growth, milestones, and challenges firsthand.

What You Should Know About Township Volunteer Work in Cape Town

a woman volunteer teaching young students inside a classroom

Make sure to ask questions, learn some common South African phrases, and research neighborhoods and street names before volunteering in Cape Town’s townships, or as it’s locally called, “the location.”. These few steps will help you feel more prepared and ready to help children in South Africa through a childcare volunteer program. Read more below for a detailed breakdown of the most important information to be mindful of when you volunteer in township areas.

1. Meet the Basic Requirements

For any of the above-mentioned volunteer programs, you should be at least 16 years old or older and have an adaptive, flexible, and patient attitude. Because of the nature of volunteering, you’ll encounter new and unfamiliar environments, which can cause you to experience culture shock or differences. That’s why it’s so important to be willing to step out of your comfort zone, do prior research, and be present and committed to the program from the very beginning.

2. Understanding the Townships

Cape Town’s townships are predominantly inhabited by the city’s marginalized communities, where there’s often a lack of basic amenities such as clean water, electricity, and proper sanitation facilities. Part of your role as a volunteer is to learn to understand these circumstances and help children in South Africa in a conscious and mindful way. Even though these areas are often neglected by the government and do not receive the same level of resources as other areas of Cape Town, there’s so much you can learn just by immersing yourself in the daily lives of these communities and gaining insights into the challenges faced by their residents.

3. Safety Considerations

While township volunteer work in Cape Town can be incredibly rewarding, it’s essential to prioritize personal safety. Always follow the guidance of the organization or host, particularly when it comes to visiting townships during certain times or avoiding certain areas. Trust your instincts, be aware of your surroundings, and communicate with local community members to gain a deeper understanding of the area.

4. Child Protection Policy

All volunteers undergo a child protection and criminal record check. This final report simply ensures that the volunteer is trustworthy and reliable to work with children. It also helps identify any potential risks to the children. All volunteers and staff must abide by the regulations and be cleared before working with children.

5. Volunteer as an Individual or Group

Choose from some of the best teaching volunteer projects in Africa and volunteer as an individual or in groups (students, corporate, family, or friends). Childcare volunteering is a serious task that requires immense focus and sincerity. So, if you have the motivation to help others, the dedication to being a part of a meaningful project, and the enthusiasm to travel abroad to do something worthy, we believe that you can be a volunteer.

Ready to Help Kids in South Africa as a Volunteer?


To recap, we’ve walked you through all the great reasons to volunteer in childcare and also explained what you can prepare for when you volunteer in Cape Town’s township areas. Now that your knowledge and awareness have broadened, you’re all set to make a better-informed decision!

Any good journey starts with at least the drive to be committed to the process, and with the right amount of motivation, you’re bound to succeed. So, trust that your goals will be fulfilled and help children in South Africa who come from vulnerable families. Depending on your interests and goals, there are also ample opportunities for volunteer work for psychology students in South Africa. If you’re not studying psychology or a professional social worker, you can still give children the love and attention they need. Most of the children you’ll meet on the project have suffered severe hardships in their lives. So, simply taking time to play with them or listen to their stories will make a real difference in these children’s lives.

African Impact’s childcare volunteering programs allow you to become part of a purpose-driven journey focused on making a difference. We understand exactly what you need to do to prepare for your volunteer trip because we have organized many trips in the past. We’ll guide you through the whole process, making sure you don’t forget anything important. Get in touch with us directly if you have any questions that are unanswered, and one of our journey coordinators will help you.



Other blog posts

No posts found!

If you’re interested in this post and would like to find out more then please connect with our advisors or make an enquiry.

During sundown, a group of volunteers are enjoying the view of Zimbabwe.

Subscribe to our newsletter

To stay up to date with our latest volunteer project developments, news and promotions


A large version of the African Impact logo.