Work in a Childrens Hospital
This Children's Hospital in Cape Town is the only stand-alone hospital dedicated entirely to children in southern Africa. Its brave little patients, often from poor backgrounds, are brought in from far and wide because of the hospital’s outstanding specialist paediatric facilities. Many of them are very sick and will be there for many months and painful operations and daily doses of medication are their daily grind. Your job is to brighten their dull days with the magic medicine of laughter, singing, reading and playing. At the same time you’ll be giving their parents, who are there every day to help with care, a much-needed break. Bring your imagination and your biggest smile and add a little sunshine to these special children’s lives.
Make a real difference to some of South Africa’s poorest communities
Brighten the lives of children with long term medical conditions
Explore beautiful Cape Town and surrounds
Make lifelong friends with other volunteers
At a Glance
Project duration: 4 to 12 weeks
Location of project: Rondebosch, Cape Town
Arrival airport: Cape Town (airport code CPT) arrive by 4.15pm at the latest
Activities: Assisting with play therapy, entertaining sick children, relieving parents with bedside company, helping out on the wards and in the fundraising shop.
Working hours: Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 3:00pm but any extra time is always appreciated
Getting to the project: 5 minute taxi ride from the volunteer house, jump on the train for 45 minutes followed by a 5 minute taxi ride.
Requirements: Minimum age 17 years with parental consent, maximum decided on health and fitness of participant. This project requires a CRB check, two reference letters and a motivational letter.
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)
While most kids get to play outside with their friends and go to school to learn, these children are stuck long term inside the hospital, losing a chunk of their childhood. Apart from its impact on their happiness, this isolation can also influence their mental and psychological development as they miss school and social interaction. When you play games and sing with
them, read to them and show them love, you’re doing so much more than just providing a welcome break from their suffering. You’re giving them a chance to stay in touch with the world that goes on outside without them and keep their childhood as normal as possible. Bonding with these inspiring, courageous children is a very special, rewarding experience. Giving them a chance at a brighter future is priceless.
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 – let’s get started!
The team will take you to the project where you’ll meet the children and staff. You’ll find out about your role and how you can contribute. The staff will help you put together a timetable for the rest of your stay. Now is the time to let the team know if you have a particular interest or skill you would like to share with the children.
Days 3-5 – let the fun begin!
You’ll have your first of many chances to connect with the children in the wards and show them how much love you can give! You’ll get into the new routine, get to know the staff and the amazing kids and learn the ropes. Remember you’ve got lots of time so don’t feel like you have to do everything immediately. Take it step by step, appreciate the moments and share the happiness.
Your typical working hours on this project will be from Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 3:00pm.
Days 6-7 (Saturday-Sunday) – it’s the weekend!
Weekends are yours to spend as you please. There is so much to see and do in and around Cape Town, you'll be spoilt for choice. Within ten minutes of the volunteer house are pristine white beaches, walking and hiking in Cape Fynbos, a penguin colony, shopping and un-missable historical and cultural experiences. Go a bit further into Cape Town and the Western Cape and there’s even more!
Following weeks, dependent on length of stay: keep sharing the love
After the novelty of the first few days, you’ll settle in and fully immerse yourself in the daily duties at the hospital. This is when you’ll really bond with and help these special kids as you become a familiar happy face in their lives. You’ll be teaching them so much and most likely
learn a lot from them too. What an incredible opportunity.
Your last day - goodbye, we’ll miss you!
It’s time to say goodbye to your newfound friends and head home to tell your special stories. The cost of your return transfer from Fish Hoek to Cape Town International Airport is not included in your project fee, but our regular transfer company will be happy to help organise the roughly US$40 /R350 journey back for you.
About the Project
The Children’s Hospital has been open since 1956 and has become known as a world-class paediatric facility which is dedicated to delivering outstanding treatment, care, research and specialist training. Hospitals from around southern Africa refer their sickest children here when they need the most complex and specialist treatment. The little angels who are treated
here have often faced terrible situations and awful pain, and many are miles away from home, rarely seeing their family or friends. Our volunteers’ help is so important as they provide social, psychological and material support for these heroic children and their families, helping them to have a positive experience in which they can heal their minds and hearts as well as their bodies.
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 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 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 - two reference letters and a motivational letter.
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.