Give the Gift of Reading
Being able to read is something many of us take for granted but for many people in South Africa it’s not a given. One in four adults in SA are illiterate and many children are still not getting the opportunity to learn. They won’t be able to read signs, books and posters – they’ll never be able to use even the most basic computers and cellphones. It’s through literacy that they’ll be able to achieve their dreams. Our child literacy programme works with primary school children to help them improve their reading and enter the wonderful world of books, giving them the basic skills to put them on the road to a good education. As a volunteer you’ll spend time sharing your love of books with these keen young South Africans, helping them to learn to read whilst enjoying your time in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Give underprivileged youngsters a better standard of education and a brighter future.
Work on your classroom skills and rediscover your love of books.
Check out the many sights and sounds of beautiful Cape Town with surfing, penguins, whale watching, Table Mountain and Robben Island all at your doorstep.
At a Glance
Project duration: Min 4 weeks - max 12 weeks
Location of project: Various locations, about 45 minutes from Cape Town city centre
Arrival airport: Cape Town (airport code CPT) arrive by 4.15pm at the latest
Activities: Working one on one with children, reading to them and helping them learn to read and speak English.
Working hours: Flexible - Monday to Fridays 9am to 1pm. Afternoons can be spent preparing or relaxing, all other time is free.
Getting to the project: Around 10-15 minutes taxi ride (budget approximately US$15 per week)
Requirements: Minimum age 18, police check required (fees apply)
Accommodation: Shared dormitory room in volunteer house, same sex rooms
Food: Food is not included; you’ll need to purchase your own food (budget approximately US$50 per week)
Airport pickup: Included on arrival date - ask us for details if you're arriving early
For you to organise: Flights, insurance, visas, return airport transfer (at the end of your trip)
Reading is certainly something we take for granted as we go through life, as we read computer screens, food labels, street signs and just about everything else. For many of us, it’s also an activity we love, from cuddling up with a bedtime story to lounging on the beach with a good book. This amazing literacy project aims to give these children a chance to experience all of that. But it’s not always easy. Children who are behind in reading lose their confidence and self-esteem and it becomes a big deal, a humiliation and a frustration. As volunteers, you play an incredibly important role by giving them one on one time, reading to them, helping them to learn the universal language of English and, importantly, making it fun.
This project is very informal and is focused on creating a relaxed atmosphere for the children to be able to enjoy their reading. During one on one time, you’ll pair up with one of the children, helping that child to learn and boosting their confidence. Imagine what a feeling it will be to know you’ve helped change that child’s future.
You will find all the resources, books, stationery and games that you need at this project so there’s no need to bring anything from home. If you have a great idea to make reading fun, we recommend you buy the resources when you arrive in South Africa once you know what the project really could benefit from – and you’ll be helping the local economy.
Your typical working hours on this project will be from Monday to Friday, 9am till 1pm, but any extra time and additional skills you can share are always appreciated.
Day 1 (Monday) – hello and welcome!
Arrive at Cape Town International Airport (airport code CPT) where you’ll be met at the airport and taken to our volunteer house in Fish Hoek. You’ll need to arrive before 4.15pm so that you’re in time for orientation at 5pm. The journey from the airport to Fish Hoek takes about 45 minutes and you’ll see the magnificent Table Mountain on the way! Orientation will take you through what you can expect from your project, dos and don’ts and how to stay safe. It’s also a great opportunity to ask any burning questions you’ve got. Afterwards you can relax and prepare before your first day at the project.
Note: If you aren’t able to arrange a flight to get you into Cape Town before 4.15pm then we recommend you fly in a day early. We can arrange an early airport pickup for you including one night’s accommodation. Please give us a call for more information.
Day 2 (Tuesday) – let’s get started!
After breakfast a shuttle bus will pick you up from the house and take you to the project's training offices to get you ready for your awesome teaching experience. Training is from 9.30am till about 3pm with a break for tea and sandwiches in the middle. One of the literacy project team will discuss how to help the students, teaching techniques and the different literacy levels. The training is fun and you’ll be introduced to different games, which will
help you to get the students to love reading.
Day 3 (Wednesday) - meet the children!
Today is the first day on your project. You’ll get to know your fellow volunteers and staff and meet the wonderful children. We’ll make sure you know what you’re doing and where you’re going, and introduce you to the project staff who’ll be your main contacts while you’re working. The journey from your accommodation to the project is on public multi-person taxis and it will take about 15 minutes. Your first day at the project will be all about settling in and getting to know how things work.
Day 4 -5 (Thursday to Friday) - get into the swing
You’ve waited so long for this! Now’s your chance to learn the ropes, get stuck in and help give these children a better start in life. Volunteers don't replace good teaching; they add to it, with learning that’s fun and individual, focussed time and attention these children often don’t get in a big class.
Day 6-7 (Saturday and Sunday) - it’s the weekend!
Weekend time is your time. Relax and chill – or enjoy the many amazing attractions Cape Town has to offer. With places like Table Mountain, Cape Point, Kirstenbosch, botanical gardens and Boulders Beach just a short distance from your accommodation, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Following weeks – just keep reading!
You’ll be working Monday to Friday at your project, with the weekends off to have fun.
You’ll get to know the staff and children and probably yourself. You’ll teach the children– and learn from them too. Those beautiful faces will make an imprint on your heart forever. It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Your last day
Having said goodbye to all your new friends you’ll transfer back to the airport. Our regular transfer company will be able to sort the journey back for you. The costs is around US$35 / 350 Rand and this is easily arranged in country.
About the Project
This non-profit project aims to improve children’s attitude to reading and hopes to help children to learn to love books. It helps teach children English and grow their confidence and self-esteem with literacy. It helps to give these children hope that a better future is possible. Their main focus is recruiting and training volunteers to assist children aged 8-12 who find reading difficult. They work in underprivileged areas where illiteracy is high and average class size is 42, a huge number for any teacher to work with. The project survives through a volunteer workforce that gives their time to this valuable cause. Put simply, the more volunteers they have, the more learners they can assist!
While you're here
Our large volunteer house in Fish Hoek will be your happy home for this trip. It accommodates up to 20 people (our volunteers only) in dormitory-style, same sex rooms with bunk beds, a maximum of six people per room. There are three bathrooms with hot, running water, showers and regular flush loos. There’s also a lounge area, balcony, lush garden and barbeque . You’ll be only a short distance from the shops and beach. You’ll find lockers at the accommodation to lock your valuables away but please remember to bring a padlock and keys with you! You’ll need to pay R1000 deposit when you arrive which will be given back to you when you leave if everything’s still as you found it.
You’ll be self-catering while in the house. The kitchen has everything you need from cookers, loads of fridge space and microwave to toaster, kettle and and kitchen utensils. You can eat at the dining room table or lounge on the balcony. There’s a barbeque outside or, as we call it in SA, a braai, which is the best way to cook on a warm evening. You can also grab takeaways at the many spots in the town, about 10 minutes’ walk away.
Note: While in the house you will be responsible for keeping the place clean so please tidy up after yourself, especially in the kitchen. Budget around US$50 per week for groceries, as prices are similar to home.
Facilities and the area
There’s a phone at the house for incoming calls, and buy local phone cards to make outbound phone calls.
Washing can be done at the laundry down the road: simply drop off your clothes and pick them up later!
Cape Town has a temperate climate but winter is still chilly so pack warm jumpers and even some cosy socks as SA doesn’t have central heating.
Bedding is provided but bring a sleeping bag for away weekends and extra warmth.
Bring along a towel
Fish Hoek’s main street is only10 minutes’ walk away where you’ll find a supermarket, serviced laundry and internet café, as well as banks and other shopping. The beach is just a stone’s throw beyond that!
Bars, restaurants, more shopping and more beautiful beaches are only 10 minutes drive away.
Fish Hoek is on the train line and trains are a great way to travel but they stop running at 7pm.
Taxis to Cape Town CBD cost around US$35/ R250 each way.
Advice & Safety
Throughout your programmes you will have the support and guidance of the programme co-ordinator and team. You will be provided with competent assistance and help with any questions or advice you may need during your stay and someone will always be available in case of emergency.
This trip requires a Police Check to be carried out.
What you get
We're always available to offer support and guidance before, during and after your trip.
Thorough project briefing materials
Once you’ve booked you'll receive a full pack of all the information you need for the project. It contains general information about volunteering, your specific project and South Africa as well as advice on safety, visas and inoculations.
Don’t worry about arriving in a new country on your own. We’ll be there to welcome you and take you to your accommodation.
Soon after you arrive you’ll attend a thorough orientation with our team. It covers everything you need to know about your next few days, dos and don’ts and your safety. You can ask any questions and find out more about the fun stuff to do around Cape Town and South Africa.
Accommodation and meals
Accommodation is included with all projects and meals are included with some. We only use locally-owned and operated accommodation so that part of your placement fee is filtering back into the local economy. Most projects offer homestay, guesthouse or shared volunteer houses as standard accommodation, but some offer the chance to upgrade to a more comfortable living standard.
24/7 emergency support
We’re always on hand in case of an emergency.
After you've booked
- You will receive a welcome email confirming your booking
- You’ll receive a full project pack with all the info you need
- You’ll be asked for any extra info if we need it – such as doctor’s notes for medical conditions, or maybe a CV on some projects
- You’ll need to pay if you haven’t paid already (at least 90 days before travelling)
Then the fun starts!
Next you should:
- Book your flights
- Arrange suitable travel insurance
- Get a visa for your trip if it's needed
- Visit a nurse or travel clinic for advice on inoculations and malaria prevention
- Start packing and come and join us!
*Remember to keep our contact details in a safe place in your hand luggage in case you need to contact us during your travels.
About South Africa
South Africans are patriotic and passionate about their country. And it’s not despite the country’s famously troubled history – it’s because of it! The people of this democratic country are so proud of how far they have come from the dark days of Apartheid and it makes us grateful for the diversity of cultures and languages that make up our amazing rainbow nation.
South Africa is a country of diversity in so many ways. It’s not a big country but travelling across the length and breadth of it, you’ll encounter an incredible range of climates and landscapes. There’s beautiful Cape Town, with its Mediterranean feel, pristine white beaches, sparkling oceans and magnificent Table Mountain providing the craggy backdrop for every setting. Travel east along the Garden Route with its picture-postcard coastal villages and you’ll eventually reach Durban and surrounds, a tropical area where the sun shines almost every day, the sea is warm and the surfing is fantastic! Then there’s the rugged Drakensberg mountain range, a place of rich Zulu heritage, spectacular views and jagged sweeps of peaks. Further north you’ll hit South Africa’s famous ‘veld’ or bush where you’ll find Africa’s big five and many thousands of other species of animals, hiding out in landscapes that are lit at sunset by the most vivid orange, pinks and purples.
There are so many things to see and do here that you’ll need years. But if your time is limited, here’s our top five must-dos:
You can’t come to Africa and not experience the amazing animals, the wild and beautiful African bush and the chorus of an African dawn. Kruger National Park is the most popular choice but there are a host of other parks in the northern parts of South Africa and the Free State as well as KwaZulu-Natal, offering a range of options from the most luxurious accommodation with chefs at your service to DIY game viewing and camping.
Adventure is the name of the game in this crazy country and if it’s outdoors and adrenalin-inducing, you’ll find it here. From the highest bungee jump and highest commercial abseiling in the world to shark cage diving, downhill mountain biking, trail running, walking safaris, big wave surfing and multi-day hiking, there’s something for ever thrill seeker.
South Africa has thousands of miles of glorious coastline, with Blue Flag beaches and hidden gems dotted along its length. There’s beaches for the glamorous, where you can go to see and be seen, beaches perfect for families, beaches for walking, beaches for swimming and beaches for watersports. There’s probably beaches which have never been trodden by a tourist before. Go on, we dare you to find it!
Nightlife, restaurants and entertainment
No holiday would be complete without a few good nights out and South Africa knows how to entertain. With so many cultures making up our population, there’s loads of delicious food on offer full of every fresh ingredient you could think of. There are pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes to suit every taste. South Africa is famous for its wonderful wines and there’s a craft beer revolution happening right here. Pack your dancing shoes!
A taste of township and culture
South Africa has a rich, tumultuous history dotted with dismal lows and incredible highs – and full of astounding stories from amazing people. It’s what makes South Africa the colourful place it is. Museums of every shape and size document the various aspects of our human and natural history, arts and culture – you’ll find them all over the country. Or why not take a township tour and experience the true heart of South African culture? If you’re visiting Cape Town, come to Kommetjie and visit Masiphumelele with the Township Sisters, our special Volunteer and Explore partners, and help support the sustainable development of this vibrant township.