Children's Hospital - Cape Town

The Children's Hospital Cape Town is a recovery and treatment hospital for babies and infants in Athlone, Cape Town.

Project includes the following

Accommodation Yes
Meals Yes
Transport Yes
Project co-ordinator Yes

Cost of Project

4 weeks 1180 euro 1335 USD 875 GBP
Extra weeks 280 euro 315 USD 210 GBP

About this project

The Children's Hospital Cape Town is a recovery and treatment hospital for babies and infants in Athlone, Cape Town.

For some families living in the townships looking after their sick children is a challenge such as keeping medicine refrigerated, wounds clean and to monitor the child`s recovery sufficiently, so this Recovery Hospital meets a vital need of Cape Town`s poorer families. Just like any other child, these little ones need love, attention and stimulation which the staff is usually too busy to offer, so volunteers are much appreciated!

As a volunteer you will have a wonderfully varied experience, and be involved with all the different aspects of running a charity recovery hospital. As with any home, assistance is needed with laundry and storage of all the little baby clothes and linen, simple food preparation, managing of donations of toys (given out at children`s birthdays, and when they go home) and tidying of the baby play areas.

Volunteers with bright fundraising ideas will be given scope to implement them, and then there`s the sorting and selling of second hand clothes donations (to raise funds), and admin such as writing to thank sponsors for their donations.

There is also opportunity for volunteers to run a simple computer literacy course for the local staff nurses who haven`t had access to computers - there are computers available at the hospital but none of the nurses benefit from this as they do not even know the basics about computers. So a volunteer`s time is divided between all these vital tasks, as well as spending time with the children and babies.

Children PlayingThe children love playing games and singing, and need mental stimulation such as learning the words for parts of their body, and having stories read to them.

Some of children are HIV positive, so common sense caution is employed. Volunteers work side by side with paid nursing staff, who will attend to any medical conditions the children might have.

The bursting-at-the-seams classrooms welcome volunteers to assist the teachers with running the activities peacefully. You will work with the nurses and teachers in the hospital.

Daily guidance
Daily guidance will be given by the coordinator of all volunteer activities.

Other volunteers
You most likely won't be alone when volunteering at the Children's Hospital Cape Town and meet both local as international volunteers at this project. We get volunteers from all over the world, such as USA, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, UK and many other countries.

Tasks and activities

Daily activities
Children's HospitalSome of the activities you can be involved in are;

Babies and children's ward

  • Teach and encourage development through play
  • Work at the development stage that the child is and help the child develop to the proper stage where the child should be.
  • Collect toys from around the ward and sterilize toys daily, at the end of day each child should have one toy and one numbered soft toy in their cot
  • Assist with feeding, show nurse how much child ate when finished

Nursery school

  • Help teacher and teacher`s assistant with teaching activities
  • Ask teacher what the children and learning and how you could be helpful
  • Assist with art projects, teaching-sums, letters, time, English, computer
  • Assist with keeping room tidy and organized
  • Organize children with puzzles and game

House keeping

  • Assist with organizing the linen room and keeping it tidy
  • Assist with preparation of meals in the kitchen
  • Assist with keeping storage rooms organized i.e. labelled and tidy

Keep in mind that some children might be HIV+ but there is a non-disclosure policy in line with Government regulations and laws, so Volunteers need to exercise caution when working with children and wounds.

Working days and hours
You are expected to work on weekdays from about 8h00 until 15h00, but times can differ due to the activities you can be involved in. Weekends are usually off for visiting Cape Town and enjoying a variety of tours if you like.

Area description

The area
Athlone is a predominately coloured area in the city of Cape Town and centrally located. It is 15 minutes’ drive from the volunteer house. Athlone is an area with many social economic challenges and especially poverty is a huge challenge in this area.

Your accommodationn is however situated in Woodstock, a hip and up and coming area in Cape Town that offers amny opportunities to enjoy some shopping, the nightlife it has to offer and great restaurants.

Cape TownDespite general ideas of South Africa being very unsafe it is important to know that South Africa is known to many as very friendly and welcoming. But please remember that you must realise that in big cities you have to stick to a certain conduct of behaviour to avoid complicated situations. As 70% of people live in poverty and few are extremely rich, the differences in live and hope for a better future creates a situation that fuels crime, lack of education, substance abuse, domestic violence and many more problems. To keep safe we advise you to:

  • Do not walk at night, use a cab!
  • Walk in a group where possible and stay on roads where you are in sight of other people.
  • Do not walk around with valuables.
  • Do not carry a backpack on your stomach; its shows you have valuables and are a tourist.
  • Have a phone and airtime so you can call somebody for help if you are lost or feel unsafe.
  • Only draw money in shopping centres and other secured areas.

After hours activities
During weekends there are lots of activities to enjoy and see the diversity of Cape Town and South Africa. The volunteer house is within easy reach (cab or public transport) of Cape Town’s bustling city center with lots of options to enjoy all the beauty this city has to offer, such as Long Street, Table Mountain, Robben Island, the winelands and much more. The project works together with several local tour operators so when you are there they can help you plan your activities for the weekends.


Volunteers are accommodated in a backpacker’s style house in the popular area of Woodstock. The house is comfortable with a communal lounge, kitchen, internet (extra costs apply) and easy access to the city and any facilities you might need.

The shared bedrooms are all nicely decorated and of good quality. If you really do not want to share we can try and book a single room but extra costs apply.

The shared rooms have 2 to 4 people sharing if needed and communal bathrooms with shower facilities. Volunteers also have access to the self-catering kitchen to prepare meals. Bedding and towels are provided.

Shopping and supplies
Accommodation in WoodstockThere are plenty of shops within walking distance where you can buy your basic supplies. Shopping malls are not within walking distance, so you will need to use a taxi for this as well as going to Cape Town centre but you’ll see that it is very easy to get around.

Breakfast and dinner is included in your fee, which will be served daily. Breakfast is self-service and lunch is for your own account and you either bring your own lunch on working days or join the (basic) meals offered at the project.

Please note to mention special dietary needs and allergies before you arrive. You will have to supply your own groceries if your needs are very complicated to match with other volunteer meals.

How to get there?

Arriving at the project
You will be welcomed and picked up upon arrival at the airport or hostel in Cape Town and brought to your accommodation. The first 3 days of your stay will offer you a 3 day Cape Town Orientation where you will be showed the ins and outs, the surroundings, taking busses and the train, what else to know before you start, safety and much more.

Daily transport
Your daily transport to and from the project is not included in the total price as we use the services of a company for this. The weekly fee of R300 (25 euro) can be paid in cash upon arrival or to the driver of your transport.

Possibilities for arranging own transport
If you have any travelling plans before or after your stay or for weekends it is possible to rent a car if you would like to. The project co-ordinator knows of several options to rent cars fairly cheap, so let us know if we can assist.


Costs for the project

4 weeks 1180 euro 1335 USD 875 GBP
Extra weeks 280 euro 315 USD 210 GBP

Your donation will not only be helpful for the support of these projects but will also be used for the maintenance of buildings in the area, food for children and for the organization of activities.

Break down of volunteering fee
Accommodation, meals & transport - 30 %
Direct donation to the project - 15 %
Coordinating, staff and pick up costs - 35 %     
Admin and Marketing costs - 20 %

Costs will cover the following

  • Airport pick up
  • First 3 days of Cape Town Orientation
  • Accommodation in shared bedrooms
  • Breakfast and dinners
  • Free 2 hour surf lesson
  • Guidance and supervision during your stay
  • Direct donation towards the project
  • Free SIM card
  • Monthly socials for volunteers to get together and meet other volunteers (cost depends on social)
  • Certificate & Report on Volunteer`s Program should this be required for studies or other purposes

Costs are excluding the following

  • Air tickets
  • Insurances, your medical insurance must include work and emergency evacuation.
  • Lunches
  • Personal luxuries
  • Tours and outings
  • The cost of a visa in the case of your volunteer stay being longer than 90 days
  • Weekend excursions
  • Local Transport of R300 per week
  • Lunches (not provided by host/host family)
  • Towel and toiletries

Dates and duration

Feed a childThis project is open all year round except for a short holiday over the December holidays in between Christmas and New Year’s. Every Wednesday is a day off.

Starting the project is possible on any Thursday on a weekly basis for a minimum stay of 2 weeks. You will then start with the 3 days Orientation (included) and start the actual project activities on Monday.


  • Minimum 16 years old, English an advantage but not required.
  • Relaxed and friendly with children, but also firm with the naughty ones
  • Ability to comfort and calm distressed toddlers and babies
  • Ability to play games and sing songs and be like a child
  • Ability to communicate in a warm and simple way - meet children at their level
  • Basic counselling and conflict management (for older orphanages)
  • Assist with homework from school (older orphanage)
  • Creativeness in regards to after school activities
  • Good listening skills


If you like to do more for your project and fundraise before you come we of course encourage this and although 15% of your fees will be donated directly to the project on an annual basis there is always a need for extra financial help.

If you are willing to fundraise we advise that you bring money instead of clothing, toys etc. as it tends to be much cheaper to buy things in South Africa and you learn while you are here where the biggest needs are at that moment.

Here are 10 tips to start fundraising; 
1. Think, 'who do I know'?
Successful fundraising costs nothing and reaches everyone. Think: "who can help me?" Build your strategy around what you already have and who you or your network knows.
2. Always keep your reasons for travelling in mind
Being passionate about what you want to do will bring in the donations - especially when you are ‘face-to face' fundraising. So don't make up this nice story about the children that need you; be honest and tell with passion why you want to do this and you'll see that people appreciate that even more.
3. Do research
Get busy and Google until late in the morning, there are loads of options and examples to be found on the internet that can help you with new ideas.
4. Make a fundraising leaflet or letter
Explain your plans and why you want to do more. Showing information and pictures of the project you are fundraising for will help a lot.
5. Have a goal
Set a goal for an amount you like to reach. Set your targets and focus on reaching those.
6. Ask for specific donations
Think of asking for 10 pounds or 20 euro. Make it a specific amount with the freedom for donors to give more of course and explain how far you are with reaching the final goal.
7. Write well-targeted letters
Target individuals, privately or in any company, this works much better then asking a company for a donation, go for the manager or owners and if you are passionate enough they will want to help.
8. Organize a fundraising event
Make it stand out and draw attention to your goals, get sponsorships and give publicity to any companies who have already donated to your cause or similar causes. It is a good idea to go for local press coverage too, so phone around and tell people why you are doing this and if they can help to give you exposure.
9. Offer something in return
volunteering-work-at-heartTo every sponsor who makes a donation it will be a great way of seeing something back for their donation. Offer to name their company in your weblog, to send a thank you letter to the local newspaper stating they helped you. Send them pictures and updates on how you are spending the donations and surely people will be moved by this.
10. Plan ahead
Plan this with a reasonable time limit. Don't start 3 months before you want to go and get disappointed when things take time. Start with planning ahead and set smaller and bigger targets.

Some fundraising ideas that worked:
Rik Beijer from the Netherlands asked the local supermarket to have a table setup in their shop which displayed several products which are much needed at his project of choice in South Africa. Things like a bag of rice, soap, baby nappies, and drinking water. With easy to read and clear explanations the customer could buy one of these products on top of their own shopping and donate the product for Rik's fundraising event. Rik then "sold" the product back to the supermarket and used the money they gave in return to partly fund his volunteer trip and use the money to buy sports equipment for the local high school.

Gracia Smith from the USA held a sponsored car wash. Nothing unusual there you may think, except that the people doing the washing were ten of her good looking girl friends in bikinis! Maybe this is not for everybody, but it brought in enough money to supply a school with stationary and learning material for a long time to go.

Marius Voss from Germany organized a fun run with the local primary school and the whole school got involved to sponsor every kilometre walked by the kids for his cause. His fundraised money covered the renovation of a children’s home which was much needed.

Think out of the box and you will be successful. If you like to ask any questions about your fundraising ideas please let us know.

Practical tips

Bring clothing for a variety of weather conditions. Even though it is Africa it is not always hot and especially in winter the nights can be cold. So bring a wind jacket and some long trouser, a hat is always handy on sunny days and some good shoes for weekend outings and running around with the children. Don’t over pack; you can always buy something here!

Cultural differences

Culture and language
Feeding a childSouth Africa has been referred to as the 'rainbow nation', a title which epitomises the country's cultural diversity. The population of South Africa is one of the most complex and diverse in the world. Of the 45 million South Africans, nearly 36 million are Black, 4 million White, 4 million Coloured and one million Indian. The population density is 32.9 people per km².

The Black population is divided into four major ethnic groups, namely Nguni, Sotho, Shangaan-Tsonga and Venda. There are numerous subgroups of which the Zulu and Xhosa (two subgroups of the Nguni) are the largest. The majority of the White population is of Afrikaans descent (60%), with many of the remaining 40% being of British descent. Most of the Coloured population live in the Northern and Western Cape provinces, whilst most of the Indian population lives in KwaZulu Natal. The Afrikaner population is concentrated in the Gauteng and Free State provinces and the English population in the Western and Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal.
There are eleven official languages in South Africa, namely English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Sepedi, Xhosa, Venda, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Zulu, Swazi and Tsonga.

South Africanisms
just now sometime soon, shortly
now now sooner than "just now"
howzit hello (a greeting), as in "how is it going?"
bakkie pick-up truck
robot traffic light
braai barbeque
garage petrol station

Especially for a country like South Africa, researching the history before you go will explain the cultural differences you will see and will add a whole new dimension to your experience. If you understand the history of a country you will understand not only the country better but also the people, their culture, social economic challenges and customs.

Way of life in SA
It is important to also prepare yourself and obtain local knowledge. Get a good guidebook and look into it before you go to inform yourself about the country and their people. This will help you avoid offending people or breaking local laws however unwittingly.

Show respect towards the people and culture of the local communities. You might not agree with certain ways of conduct during your stay here, but please don’t forget you are a guest here, and you can't try to change everything in a period of just a few weeks. The people in the townships live in visible poverty but have a high self-esteem and their self-esteem and
dignity must be honoured.

Make someone happyThe way of life and work in South Africa is a lot different from other continents. Foreigners consider South Africans often as lazy, always late, talking loudly, chaotic and hot blooded. But are you, just because of the fact of being from overseas and not from South Africa, then automatically hectic, not enjoying life, always focused on work, always on time, humourless, serious and cold blooded? We are pretty sure you are not like that, so please think twice before you form an opinion and always keep in mind that we are all the same human beings no matter where we come from or how we look like.

Links to get further information


  • Nelson Mandela – ‘Long walk to freedom’: While not travel literature, Nelson Mandela’s superb and inspirational autobiography, is one of the best ways to prepare for a South Africa trip.
  • Alan Paton – "Cry - the beloved country": A beautifully told and profoundly compassionate story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom, set in the troubled and changing South Africa of the 1940s.
  • Steven Otter – ‘Khayelitsha’: The account of the years journalist Steven Otter spent in the township, drinking in shebeens (unlicensed bars) and challenging his preconceptions about race.
  • Jason Carter – ‘Power Lines’: Two Years on South Africa’s Borders: The chronicle of a Peace Corps volunteer’s perspectives on the still-deep divisions between white and black South Africa.


  • ‘Invictus’: A biographical sports drama film about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted in that country following the dismantling of apartheid.
  • ‘Bang bang club’: A drama based on the true-life experiences of four combat photographers capturing the final days of apartheid in South Africa.
  • ‘Tsotsi’: Six days in the violent life of a young Johannesburg gang leader.
  • ‘Goodbye Bafana’: The true story of a white South African racist whose life was profoundly altered by the black prisoner he guarded for twenty years. The prisoner's name was Nelson Mandela.


Make fun with kidsWhen travelling to South Africa you are going to the African continent, yes, but the country South Africa is pretty developed and modern. You will not find people in the cities living in mud huts or lions walking on the streets. And a word of fashion advice, when going to South Africa it is not necessary to bring multi-function safari khakis. J

From experience we know that some volunteers have high expectations and want to be part of changing lives and Africa. Keep in mind that you will be part of the bigger picture but change is slow and some results of your stay will only be visible in the long term. Keep your expectations realistic and down to earth and your volunteering period can only be succesful!

Extra money

This depends on your spending habits of course but South Africa is not an expensive destination but we all like an ice-cream, beer or greasy snack at times! Maybe you like to buy some souvenirs or see as much as you can by joining the weekend outings; bring some pocket money so you can.

Immunization & Vaccination

This is a malaria free area; in fact we have very little mosquitoes at all. It is best to contact your local physician before you leave your country to check what inoculations they advise you to have. Rabies is NOT common here and no real risk, so no need for that.


Accidents can happen to anyone. Make sure you get comprehensive travel and medical insurance. Shop around and make sure it’s right for you. Think about activities you may be doing, even spur of moment ones, and make sure you're covered for these. Your policy also needs to cover medical costs. If you do not take out proper insurance, you will foot the bill.
Next to your international travel insurance we advise you to get the VOLUNTEER CARD. This will not only cover your volunteering activities but will also give you an incredible amount of discount options throughout the world! US and Canada nationals can order the card online, other internationals can email us for the order form!


Encouraging the kids at the hospitalYour passport must have enough pages for any visa. Your passport should have 2 pages free for every country to be visited. Please ensure that you take your own passport out from your hotel / backpackers safe the night before departure. It is absolutely necessary that you make a copy of your passport and give it to your supervisors; we strongly recommend that you also leave a copy at home or with some friends. Please note that South Africa insists on people having 2-free pages available when you enter. Keep this in mind if you are going to fly home from South Africa after completing a tour to multiple African countries. 
Please ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months after your date of departure from Africa.
You are personally responsible for ensuring that passports, visas, vaccination certificates and other travel documents are in order and for all costs relating thereto.


As visa requirements vary considerably, please contact the various embassies or a visa service agent to recheck, visa requirements at least 4 weeks prior to departing. Please note that visas are the responsibility of the traveller and that the project co-ordinator will not be held responsible for clients being denied entry should they not be in the possession of the relevant visas. All travellers must be in possession of a valid onward/return air ticket.



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