South Africa is an extremely diverse country, with 11 official languages, and various cultures and lifestyles. There is the amazing Kruger Park, the Table Mountain in Cape Town and amazing wine vineyards which make it a desirable place not only to visit but also to volunteer. The diversity and history of South Africa, make it a country to see and learn from first-hand.
Every country needs volunteers (short and long-term) to fill in the gaps. Poverty, economic disparities, major health problems like HIV/AIDS, human rights violations, and gender-based violence are part of daily live in South Africa. Read on to learn about volunteer programs available, places to live work, and the logistics of volunteering in South Africa.
South Africa currently has over 7 million people living with HIV/AID, the highest in the world. Unfortunately, there are tribal medicine campaigns and a lack of education for many people about what causes HIV/AIDS and how to protect yourself from getting infected. Volunteers with a medical background are therefore very much needed in South Africa for actual care and awareness and education programs.
South Africa has many townships, where the people and communities are experiencing immense difficulties. From a survey in 2015, 49.2 percent of the adult population were living below the poverty line. Volunteers in South Africa can help increase the quality of life by working on building projects with local populations (but making sure to choose volunteer programs that do not take away paid work from local residents). Another option is volunteering your time and knowledge by mentoring small businesses owners or teaching skills that can provide sustainable change.
Youth Development and Education
As said, there are many economic disparities in South Africa, and the divide between rich and poor is immense due to apartheid. This has consequences for the development and education of youth, especially in the townships. In townships, there is a lack of teachers, but also a lack of materials and a lot of crime. Volunteering in townships is an opportunity to fill the gaps through teaching and mentorship. Volunteers can find placements assisting teachers or by organizing after school activities.
In South Africa, many women are affected by domestic violence; an estimate is that one out of every five women in South Africa is or has been suffering from physical violence. Even though there is a Domestic Violence Act, many women are not aware of their rights. There are opportunities, like with GVI, to volunteer in South Africa with women and facilitate gender equality discussions, help with workshops, and professional training.
Conservation & Environment
South Africa has beautiful landscapes and reserves, with beautiful nature and wild animals. Volunteers can visit for several weeks to months to help preserve the country and help with wildlife conservation.