Occupational Therapy Internship
Occupational therapists help people to participate in everyday activities, function independently and develop better by using self-care, work and play activities. The disabled children of 'We Have Hope' Special Care Centre are all desperately in need of this kind of care, so if you’re thinking of going into this rewarding, caring profession, or are already training for it, an internship at 'We Have Hope' is perfect for you. You’ll get hands-on, practical experience and have a special, meaningful impact on these kids’ lives. Bring your skills, your love and your biggest smile, you’re going to have the best internship experience in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Spending time with children who are so appreciative of the effort you put in.
Seeing the children develop and respond to your input.
Learning the therapeutic benefits of hippotherapy.
Making a difference in a very underprivileged community.
Gaining hands-on, practical experience in an area of special needs.
Working alongside people who are passionate about the field of special needs and occupational therapy.
Spending your spare time enjoying the attractions of Cape Town and South Africa.
At a Glance
Project duration: Min 4 weeks - Max 12 weeks
Location of project: Masiphumelele Township, around 45 minutes from central Cape Town Airport to fly into: Cape Town International (CPT)
Accommodation: Intern house, Kommetjie Road, Fish Hoek. This is also where your orientation will take place.
Activities: General care of the children, creative stimulation programmes, therapy time, hippotherapy
Getting to the project: Interns catch a mini bus taxi between the intern house and the project. The taxis stop outside intern house and transport them straight to Masiphumelele Township. Cost R7 each way.
Working hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm
Accommodation: Shared dormitory room in Intern house, same sex rooms
Food: Food is not included; you will need to purchase your own food (budget approximately US$50 per week)
Return transfer:This is for your own cost. However the in-country team can assist with booking final transport. Budget on approximately R350.
You need to organize: Flights, insurance, visas, return airport transfer, local transport, food
'We Have Hope' Special Care Centre look after 34 children with a wide range of disabilities - either physical, intellectual or a combination of both. It is a day care centre where all the children's emotional, therapeutic and developmental needs are met through a multi-disciplinary approach. We Have Hope's focus is on assisting the children in becoming as independent as they possibly can and, if at all possible, integrating them into a mainstream school environment.
We Have Hope’s occupational therapist spends four days per week at the centre. She is highly experienced in the field of special needs children and does amazing work with them. She acts as a mentor to Volunteer and Explore interns and will guide and assist you as you go through the programme. You’ll learn all about working with children with special needs, participate in their daily activities and help with group work and individual therapy.
Every Thursday afternoon, 12 of the centre’s children visit Sleepy Hollow Horse Riding School for hippotherapy, provided by the South African Riding for the Disabled (SARDA). It is a huge highlight for the children, an incredibly important part of their therapy and benefits all aspects of their mental, physical and social lives. You’ll go along to assist with the children during their hippotherapy and learn about its methods and benefits.
Please be aware that these children have been dealt a rough deal in life. They have severe and profound special needs and come from a very impoverished area. Your assistance is absolutely essential to them – but you will need to be passionate about and dedicated to helping them.
Internships last a minimum of four weeks and there are six interns at a time in the programme.
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) – say hi to the kids!
This morning you’ll be off to the project and our team will be on hand to make sure you know where you’re going and get you settled. You’ll meet the dedicated staff and the children they look after. It’s going to be a happy introduction as the kids are always super excited to have someone fresh and new in their lives.
Day 3 (Wednesday)
You’ll start getting to know the kids, bonding with them, learning more about their disabilities and how you can help. They’ll learn so much from you, simply through play and general conversation – and your trainer will ensure that you learn as much as you can from your time with us. If you have any ideas you’d like to contribute, like learning games or fun ways to approach problems and activities, speak up! Your contribution will always be appreciated.
Day 4 (Thursday)
Thursdays are hippotherapy days, and you’ll accompany 12 of the children to Sleepy Hollow
Horse Riding School where the therapy provided by the South African Riding for the Disabled (SARDA) is the highlight of their week. It’s tonnes of fun and you’ll learn so much too.
Days 6 and 7 (Saturday to Sunday) – it’s the weekend!
Spend your free time as you please. Cape Town offers so much to do. There are loads of stunning beaches to choose from, where you can get a tan and relax. Or you could visit the city, climb Table Mountain, check out a penguin colony, go wine tasting or pop in to the many fascinating museums and art galleries. Alternatively you could just chill at the volunteer house in the garden or around the swimming pool.
Following weeks – keep up the good work!
Your weekdays will be spent at the centre and you’ll get to know the routine and the children. You’ll start to see their progression and how much your help can have an influence. You’ll learn more about the community and may even get involved in community activities. It is likely to become a place that’s very dear to your heart.
Your last day (Monday) – goodbye, we’ll miss you!
It will be sad to say goodbye to your newfound friends and the children at the centre but you’ll have so many special memories and so much experience to add to your future career. The return transfer from Fish Hoek to Cape Town International is not covered within your project fee but our regular transfer company will be able to organise the journey. Budget around £25/R300.
We Have Hope Special Care Centre runs a daily programme that is adapted to each classroom’s needs and age-appropriate activities. These activities generally include the morning ring, creative stimulation programmes, free play, outside play and therapy time (occupational therapy). The children also receive a daily cooked meal from the Centre and most of them need some assistance at meal time. Following the guidelines of the programme mentor, interns will be able to assist with all aspects of the daily programme,
contributing to the children’s emotional, physical and mental development by helping them to take part in activities and offering them much-needed encouragement and love which improves their confidence. You will also be involved in community assistance, following the guidelines of your mentor.
Some activities you can expect to be involved in:
Counselling – Occupational therapy interns will not be expected to do this.
Public education towards inclusion
Creative stimulation programmes
Adult and youth groups with special needs
Transference of care skills
Work hours are usually from 9am to 1pm, Monday to Friday.
You’ll need to wear comfortable clothes and flat shoes, suitable for working with children on the floor or on a climbing gym.
Minimum qualifications and experience required to take part in this internship:
Grade 12 certificate
CV, including certification of any completed courses
Please note: work experience in the field of special needs is beneficial but not essential.
About the Project
'We Have Hope' Special is dedicated to helping children with a wide range of disabilities, including Autism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy, to name but a few. The day care centre believes in treating the child holistically and has professionals from various disciplines working on the premises including an occupational therapist, a social auxiliary worker and child care workers. They focus on assisting the children to become as independent as they possibly can. In 2013 they were able to reintegrate three children into the mainstream environment. Those children who are severely and profoundly disabled are kept as comfortable as possible with daily stimulation programmes offered by carers and an occupational therapist.
We Have Hope offers:
Day care for children with special needs
Public education towards inclusion
Creative stimulation programmes
Transport to and from Special Care Centres
Adult and youth groups with special needs
Transference of care skills
The Association is a non-profit and public benefit organisation with Section 18A status that operates in the Simon’s Town Magisterial District of the City of Cape Town, South Western Cape Region in Southern Africa.
The Association’s focus is on working with children and families facing the adversities of living with a family member with special needs.
While you're here
Our comfortable volunteer and intern house in Fish Hoek will be your happy home for this trip. It has 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.
Cape Town is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world, set on a peninsula which is surrounded by sea and edged with kilometers of pristine white sandy beaches. Right in the middle of the city is the World Heritage site, Table Mountain and the rugged back of the mountain which extends all the way down the Peninsula. The Cape is famous for the amazing, iconic, flat-topped mountain, beautiful fynbos (which is unique here and is the smallest, richest floral kingdom in the world), penguins, beaches, history (including Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned), amazing food at awesome restaurants, dazzling nightlife and so much more. There’s so much to see and do in your free time you’ll never be bored – but if you want some advice on where to go and what to do, simply ask our local team.
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.
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.