Door of Hope - Orphanage

Mama Gladys founded The Door of Hope Orphanage in 1999, starting out in the township of Motherwell. Nowadays she has her own place in Port Elizabeth where she provides a home and place of safety to 38 children.

Project includes the following

Accommodation Yes
Meals Yes
Transport Yes
Project co-ordinator Yes

Cost of Project

1 week 330 euro 450 USD 270 GBP
2 weeks 590 euro 800 USD 480 GBP
3 weeks 830 euro 1130 USD 675 GBP
4 weeks 1060 euro 1440 USD 860 GBP
Extra weeks 220 euro 300 USD 175 GBP
Long Term: Once Off
Long Term: Per Week
495 euro
170 euro
675 USD
225 USD
400 GBP
135 GBP

About this project

History of the Project
Mama Gladys founded The Door of Hope Orphanage in 1999, starting out in the township of Motherwell. Nowadays she has her own place in Port Elizabeth where she provides a home and place of safety to 38 children.

Most children were abandoned or neglected before they arrived at the home of this inspiring lady, most of them also affected by HIV/AIDS. Mama Gladys, with the help of some permanent staff, gives these children a safe place and the love and care that they need. The orphanage solely depends on donations and thanks to previous volunteers and their networks they have already been able to plant some vegetable gardens. Now they can provide their own food - a major development.

The children of the Door of Hope Orphanage are attending several primary and high schools in the surroundings of Port Elizabeth, increasing their chances for a better future.

Mission of the project
Donated toysThe mission of Door of Hope and especially Mama Gladys is to provide abandoned and orphaned children with a safe place to stay, to receive good education, love and care and to grow into independent responsible members of society.

Role of the volunteer
This project is challenging since you will be responsible for around 38 children who all want some of your attention. But you are offered an amazing opportunity; you get to know about their culture and daily life. Of course you will learn about the struggles of the kids but you will also see lots of smiles and happiness. You will be singing and dancing with them, you will make them laugh, help them with schoolwork and teach them there’s a whole world waiting for them. Some individual attention can already make a great difference!

Project needs
There is, besides daily help and assistance, also a need for financial support. Any possible gifts and donations provided by volunteers and their network of people are extremely appreciated. Instead of collecting goods and materials for donation, it is recommended to purchase and donate these on location. Things they could use are:

  • Learning materials for the children 
  • Sports equipment and materials for the children 
  • Food parcels for families and children in need 
  • Clothing for the children 
  • School uniforms for the children 
  • Toiletries
  • Employees

At the orphanage you will meet a variety of staff. There are several Mamas’ that cook, clean and look after the household tasks. Mazwai is the only man in the house and as a former child growing up at the orphanage he is now an adult looking after the building, supporting the children and most importantly being a positive male role model for them.

Daily guidance
Guidance will be given first of all by our Volunteer Coordinators who will be picking you up, show you around and prepare your work activities with the projects as well as supervising you during your stay and evaluation afterwards. They will transfer you to and from the project, make sure the shopping is done and organize fun outings for the weekends. The coordinators lives at the volunteer home and will be looking after your needs in any way. They have lots of experience and has volunteered at several of our projects themselves.
At Door of Hope you can ask Mama Gladys all your questions and the other staff to assist where needed.

Other volunteers
As the orphanage is small we prefer to keep volunteer numbers low and have a maximum of 3 volunteers at any time. Other volunteers can come from all over the world.

Tasks and activities

Receiving a hugAs the older children go to school during the day (until 14h00) your working hours will be more flexible. During the day you can help with the young children, do house chores, clean up, and prepare afternoon activities and much more. In the afternoon when the children come home from school you can devote your full attention to the kids.

You can be involved in the following activities:

Individual attention: It sounds so simple but with daily individual attention you can really help these children. You can for example teach them the English alphabet, how to count, about animals and about which colours there are. Playing games can also be a part of your tasks. As a volunteer you play a big part in the individual development of the children.

Homework: When the older kids come home from school you can help them with their homework. You can improve their English by talking to them or help them with reading and writing assignments. If you’re good at maths, you can help them with this. It doesn’t matter what you are good at, you can always help them out with some subjects.

Organize: If you volunteer you can regularly organize activities, not only for fun but also to increase the social skills of the children and to work on behavioural challenges.

Household chores: Mama Gladys receives help from several ladies who cook and clean, but there are many other tasks where she could really use your help. Think of organizing the administration, files about the children and other tasks that are not part of the daily household, to get a better insight in the current situation and translate this into goals for the future.

Extra attention: Some children need special attention because they lag behind with their personal devel opment. Some cannot read or write properly and that is where you can help out and make a difference.

Working days and hours

Young Children & activitiesWorking days are from Monday to Friday with the weekends off. Our coordinators will bring you to the project around 9h00 AM and pick you up around 16h00 PM so basically a full day’s work. If you like you can also help on weekends with fun outings and other activities.

Area description

The area
Port Elizabeth (PE) is the biggest city of the Eastern Cape with approximately 1,2 million inhabitants (including the Northern areas, Despatch and Uitenhage).
During the Apartheid era, the Eastern Cape and the ‘homelands’ were the home of the Xhosa speaking tribes. There weren’t a lot of facilities and work opportunities in those days and we are still battling now. The Xhosa’s worked in the bigger cities, but went home every year to visit their families. Fort Hare University was the only university in the area where Xhosa’s were allowed to study. Famous politicians namely Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Steve Biko completed their studies at the university. Although Bisho is the capital of the Eastern Cape, it remains poor and an undeveloped city. Many people move from these homelands to the bigger city of Port Elizabeth in search of employment and a better life.
PE is the fifth biggest city in South Africa and has the biggest car manufactures (Daimler Chrysler, Volkswagen and General Motors). This provides lots of employment but by far not enough yet. Besides that PE is developing the biggest harbour of South Africa, called the Coega Project. It contributes to the economic growth of the Eastern Cape and will hopefully bring even more jobs and opportunities for the future.
The Eastern Cape is as culturally diverse as it is in nature and climate. The diversity in culture is represented by the black (mostly Xhosa speaking), coloured, Indian and white people of Port Elizabeth. You will recognise that white people still have economic power while the black people are still struggling economically. This is slowly changing with the growth of the black middle class, but don’t forget that Apartheid is not that long ago; things take time.

When you look at the map of PE you’ll see how the city is divided due to the time of Apartheid. The rich, white areas are situated by the sea, the centre and the western part of the city. The areas up to the north (called the Northern areas) are poorer where coloured and black people live mostly. The houses are smaller and more compressed than in the southern and western part of the city. These areas have their own schools, shops, sport fields, churches and hospitals. During Apartheid there were only two entrances to those areas, this made it easy for the police and the army to shut down the neighbourhood during demonstrations and uprisings.
The townships (black communities) are situated far away from the white, rich southern part of the city. The townships are known for poverty, small houses or shacks and bad infrastructure. The situation is slowly changing luckily but things are far from being evenly divided amongst all South Africans. The government and many NGO’s are trying to improve the circumstances in which these people are living and you can be part of that.

Port Elizabeth mapYour safety is very important to us and we try and offer you the best support to stay as safe as possible. South Africa has lots of challenges and because of poverty and unequal division of wealth, crime is higher than in most other countries. Please keep in mind however that PE is not Johannesburg and that the international media mostly reports about negative things, which can create a perspective of a country that does not always reflect the reality.
Your accommodation has been chosen for its safety and your coordinator will look after you on a daily basis to minimize risks. Very important is to keep to basic rules and if you do we can promise that risks are much lower than you would expect.

As weekends will be off, you can focus on enjoyment and visiting the beautiful places in and around PE. We can organize trips to Addo Elephant Park, Kragga Kamma Safari Park, Seaview Lion Park, Baviaanskloof and many more. Just keep in mind that extra costs apply for any weekend outings.

You can take a surf lesson, do a diving course, go on a Whale and Dolphin cruise or just sleep late after a bit of dancing in the local clubs; all up to you. The Volunteer Coordinator also needs some time off so weekends (outside organized trips) will be focused on relaxing and doing your own thing, maybe even some washing.


10 Chalmers road, Humewood, Port Elizabeth

The house lies in the popular area of Humewood and is a five minute walk away from the beach and is close to some shops, beachfront cafés and restaurants. It’s the perfect location to enjoy the beach after work or during weekends. This volunteer house is also used by volunteers who work at Missionvale Care Center or Izizwe Township Projects.

Township in Port ElizabethThe house has all the facilities needed; two fridges, washing machine, microwave and all else that is needed in a kitchen. The lounge has a large dining room table and enough couches to relax.

There is a private terrace with outside furniture and a braai (BBQ) area to cook those steaks on weekends. Wireless internet is free; just bring your own laptop or any other device to access the Wi-Fi network. There is even a cleaning lady who comes several times a week as we believe in offering local employment and it helps to keep the house nice and tidy of course!

Bedding is provided, but no towels, so please bring your own towels.

Depending on availability you will either have your own room or share a room with other volunteers (maximum 3 volunteers share). Male and female volunteers will have separate rooms and bathrooms to use. There are a total of 4 bathrooms in the house.

The house is safe and secure with a wall around the premises, an automatic gate with video security and safety bars. We also have our own volunteer dog Google, who loves to run around and bark at everybody, so if you like walking on the beach; Google is your man!

Shopping and supplies
Within walking distance there are some shops and you can easily take a taxi bus along the beachfront to go to the shopping centre, but Sonja will offer plenty of opportunities as well to shop for whatever you might need.

All meals are included and volunteers are expected to share in the preparing of meals and washing up. There is a set menu for the week which you can manipulate by talking to Sonja who also takes vegetarians in consideration. Coffee, tea and cordial are available at any time.
Breakfasts are self-service, so toast and cereals. Lunches can be made before going to the project and consist of sandwiches with cheese, cold meats or other spreads.
Dinners will be a grand mix of the cooking skills of the volunteers; so if you like cooking; show it!

How to get there?

Arriving at the project
Development of childrenAs we are located in Port Elizabeth you need to come to PE either by air (domestic flights only), bus or train. We will welcome you upon arrival and after showing you a bit of the immediate surroundings you will be taken to the volunteer house to settle in.

Daily transport
Your transport is provided and you will be taken to and picked up from the project on a daily basis. The vehicle is also there for weekly shopping sprees and visiting the supermarket. If you want to go out for a drink or dinner by yourself you can use local cab services for minimum costs. We will have weekly possibilities to visit the cinema or other group activities.

Possibilities for arranging own transport
If you like to do your own thing on the weekend and rent a car; no problem, there are several car rental options available with which we will gladly help you when you are here.
Travelling before or after your stay here can also be provided by booking with the project co-ordinator and get great discounts on;

Contact us for any travelling questions; you never know, we might get you a great discount.


The following costs have been carefully calculated and long term costs of the house, staff and vehicle has been taken in consideration. Don’t forget that 15% of all your fees are donated to this project directly.

1 week 330 euro 450 USD 270 GBP
2 weeks 590 euro 800 USD 480 GBP
3 weeks 830 euro 1130 USD 675 GBP
4 weeks 1060 euro 1440 USD 860 GBP
Extra weeks 220 euro 300 USD 175 GBP
Long Term: Once Off
Long Term: Per Week
495 euro
170 euro
675 USD
225 USD
400 GBP
135 GBP

If you would like to stay for longer than 3 months, costs change drastically and we can offer a much cheaper option of course:

Once-off Fee - 495 euro / 675 USD / 400 GBP
This includes all administrative costs, pickups, coordinating, salary costs etc.

Fee per week 170 euro / 225 USD / 135 GBP
This includes all meals, daily transport and your accommodation

Your donation will contribute towards:

  • staff salaries for local previously unemployed people who now help coordinate the daily activities
  • payment of school fees for kids sponsored by the project
  • monthly groceries
  • admin costs and marketing costs of the project

African HairdressersWhat’s included:

  • Information and assistance before departure
  • Pick up upon arrival and drop off at the end of your stay
  • Welcome pack with information guide, free SIM-card, maps, etc. upon arrival
  • City Tour and Introduction Programme
  • Accommodation in volunteer house close to the beach (7 nights per week of volunteering booked)
  • Onsite volunteer coordinator available 24/7
  • 3 basic meals a day
  • 15% direct donation to the project’s needs
  • Transfers to and from the project daily
  • Offer of weekend trips and outings (extra costs apply) to enjoy yourself on the weekends

What’s excluded

  • Private Luxuries (snacks, cool drinks, alcohol etc.)
  • Costs for weekend outings to safari parks etc.
  • Air tickets
  • Insurance
  • Dates and duration

Start dates
Starting your volunteer work is on Mondays only. You will be picked up at either the airport or any accommodation in Port Elizabeth on Monday morning after which you will have time to settle in and explore the area. Tuesday will be you first day of introduction at the project. If you arrive before Monday we can assist with accommodation at a backpackers or guesthouse for you.
Participation is per full weeks only and the project will be closed for about 3 weeks over Christmas and New Year’s every year.

Participation is for 1 week minimum and volunteering is booked per full weeks only. You can stay as long as you like!


It is important that volunteers of this project understand the importance of the following:

  • To be enthusiastic and independent
  • To sign a ‘Code of Conduct’ when arriving
  • To show respect towards the people and culture of the local community. You might not agree with certain ways of conduct during your stay here, but don’t forget you are a guest here, and you can’t try to change everything in a period of just a few weeks.
  • To show flexibility towards responsibilities, tasks and activities.
  • To help out with cooking, setting the table and doing dishes; you will go to Heaven for this!


ActivitiesIf 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 you r 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
To 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.

Rise by uplifting othersGracia 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

We advise you to 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 trousers. A hat is always handy on sunny days and some good shoes for weekend outings and running around with the children.

Cultural differences

South 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 East ern 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

Visible PovertyEspecially 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 but the people, their culture 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.

The 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? 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 year’s 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.


When 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.

Extra money

This depends on your spending habits. 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 & Health Tips

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.
However, while there are risks anywhere you travel, South Africa has a relatively salubrious climate and the levels of hygiene, health care, and water treatment make it a pretty safe destination.Our policy is that we do not allow volunteers to be exposed to any serious health risks. Guarantees are impossible to give but we do believe that we can offer healthy working environments for volunteers, staying within reasonability of risks involved of course.

Education and awareness are vital in preventing HIV spread and obviously avoidance of activities and behaviors that can transmit HIV.
HIV can be transmitted by unprotected sexual intercourse; Mother to child transmission during pregnancy, at the time of birth and through breast feeding; intravenous injection of infected blood.
HIV cannot be transmitted by salvia, sweat, urine or feces. It cannot be transmitted by touching, hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing food utensils, towels, bedding, baths, swimming pools, telephones or toilet seats.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a major problem in South Africa. Tuberculosis is an infectious disease, spread through the air when a person with untreated TB coughs or sneezes. But prolonged exposure to a person with untreated TB usually is necessary for infection to occur. With the right treatment TB can be cured. Once on treatment a person is no longer able to spread TB to their family or community.
Signs of TB: coughing for more than 2 weeks, coughing up blood, loss of weight and appetite, sweating a night, feeling tired and weak, pain in the chest, short of breath, lumps or swellings, a fever that comes and goes.


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!


Your 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 our 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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