Missionvale Community Volunteer Project

Missionvale Care Centre is a non-profit organization committed to providing quality care and support to improve the life of the people of Missionvale through love, consultation, participation and self-development. They respond to the many needs of the people in the circumstances in which they live in a variety of ways.

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
The Missionvale Care Centre operates in the extremely poor informal shack land township of Missionvale in Port Elizabeth, South Africa - part of the wider Nelson Mandela Metropole. It was founded by Sister Ethel Normoyle, from humble beginnings, under a tree donated by a resident of Missionvale. It has grown into a Centre which provides love and care for the poor and destitute, with particular emphasis on those living with HIV/AIDS.

Missionvale Care Centre is a non-profit organization committed to providing quality care and support to improve the life of the people of Missionvale through love, consultation, participation and self-development. They respond to the many needs of the people in the circumstances in which they live in a variety of ways.

The help of volunteers is highly appreciated as there is a variety of projects to do and support with.

Mission of the project
Missionvale offers the following help where volunteers can help out and support:

Primary School: Appr. 140 kids in the ages of 5-12 years attend school here and need support with reading, writing, social skills, sports and individual attention.

Nutrition unit: Helps the people of Missionvale each day by providing them with a half loaf of bread a nd a scoop of nutritious soup powder making it possible for them to go home and provide a meal for their family. This service is available to anyone in need. The Nutrition Unit also distributes weekly food parcels to those families on the Care Centre adopted list.

Nursing BackgroundMedical support and Clinic: A volunteer optometrist visits the Care Centre once a week providing optical examinations and helping to provide the people with glasses when necessary. The Centre is always looking for old eye glasses that can be recycled for use here. Giving a person the ability to see again is an amazing gift.

The clinic offers a one-step facility where people can get a check-up and additional care with especially TB and HIV/AIDS related illnesses. The caregivers need help from nurses to offer proper care during the daily home visits into the townships. There are qualified nurses working at Missionvale but not enough can be done and we call out to anybody with a medical or nursing background to come and make a difference.

Crafter Unit: The ladies of the Crafters Unit work very hard every day on a variety of projects including curtains, placemats, hand bags, aprons, pillows and more. These items are then sold at the Missionvale Care Centre as well as at Art in the Park the first Sunday of each month. As the women are taught the basics of sewing and become more adept at these skills they have an increased chance of becoming employed by businesses throughout the Port Elizabeth area.

Child Support and Development: Children who attend the school but also for those who do not, every day there are a variety of activities for them to stay off the streets and play safely. They get a meal, can get computer lessons, listen to stories, learn to play the drum or cultural dancing, play outside and play sports.

Community gardens: Residents of the area can plant and grow their own vegetables and fruits and donate part of the harvest to the soup kitchen.

Clothing warehouse: All donations of clothing are cleaned and sorted so anybody in need can get a parcel with fitting and clean clothes.

Project needs
The most current need is financial support to extend the existing primary school and finish the newly built classrooms for Grades 4 and 5. Every year Missionvale tries to extend the school with new classrooms and slowly grow in offering all age groups education. Currently any financial donations go directly into educational material and finishing the classrooms.

Missionvale employs a large group of people; mostly from Missionvale and they offer many of them an income or training to find jobs. You will work with caregivers, Mama’s in the kitchen and clothing warehouse and teachers in the school.

Daily guidance
First of all our Volunteer Coordinators who will be picking you up, shows you around and prepares your work activities with the projects before you start, supervises during your stay and evaluates after you leave. 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 have volunteered themselves.

Hand Crafted Items for saleOther volunteers
You most likely won’t be alone when volunteering at Missionvale and meet both local as well 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

Because of the combination of all these programmes it is possible for volunteers to help out in different ways. You can help with the distribution of food, the children in the school, do sports activities, help in the gardens, go on home visits with the caregivers and much more.

Working days and hours
You will work all weekdays from about 9h00-15h00 and weekends are off! Some projects might start earlier and in summertime, due to the heat, hours can change.

Area description

The area
PE is the biggest city of the Eastern Cape with approximately 1,2 million inhabitants (including the Northern areas, Despatch and Uitenhage). In the Eastern Cape you will find cities such as Bisho, King William’s Town and Umtata which are found in the regions of Transkei and Ciskei, they were previously known as homelands.

Port ElizabethDuring the Apartheid era, the ‘homelands’ were the home of the Xhosa speaking people. There weren’t a lot of facilities and work opportunities in those areas. 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 in search of employment and a better life.

PE is the fifth biggest city in South Africa. PE has the biggest car manufactures (Daimler Chrysler, Volkswagen and General Motors). This provides plenty of employment. 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.

The Eastern Cape is culturally diverse as is the nature and the climate of the region. The diversity in culture is represented by the black (mostly Xhosa speaking), coloured, Indian and white people of Port Elizabeth. You will recognise that the 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.

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 mostly the coloured and the black people live. 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 a bad infrastructure. The situation is slowly changing. The government and NGO’s are trying to improve the circumstances in which these people are living.

A good way to understand and see this for yourself would be to go on a township tour. We advise you not to do a township tour with Calabash (a big township tour operator) because you won’t get the true township experience while travelling in an air-conditioned bus for the whole tour. A good way to learn more about the history of PE is to go on the Donkin Heritage Trail (5km), a beautiful walk with 47 historical and special places in PE. There are also museums which are filled with the history of PE and a ghost trail, an exciting tour that leads you through PE in the dark.

South Africa is a safe place in general and is also known as friendly. But you must realise that in big cities you have to stick to a certain conduct of behaviour to avoid complicated situations.

  • 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.
  • Especially be confident and know where you are going.
  • For your own safety we request that you do not wander into the township alone.
  • Only draw money in shopping centres and other secured areas.

Make delicious lunchAs 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…


Chalmers Road 10
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 is the perfect location to enjoy the beach after work or during weekends. This volunteer house is also used by volunteers who work at Izizwe Project or Door of Hope Orphanage.

Nursing School MissionvaleThe 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 at Izizwe believe in offering local employment and it helps to keep the house nice and tidy of course!

Depending on availability you will either have your own room or share a room with other volunteers. Male and female volunteers will have separate rooms and bathrooms to use. Bed linen is included, but don’t forget to bring a towel.

The house is safe and secure with a wall around the premises, an automatic gate with video security and safety bars.

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 which 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
You will arrive in Port Elizabeth either by air, bus or vehicle. Either option; we will pick you up from the airport or bus station and welcome you in PE. The coordinator will take you to the volunteer house where you can settle in. Upon arrival the coordinator will sit down with you to go through some rules and regulations, help you to activate your SIM card and answer all your questions.

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
Kids in Primary SchoolIf you like to do your own thing for the weekend and rent a car; no problem, there are several car rental options available with which we gladly help you when you are here. Car rentals start from R120 (12 euro or 17 USD per day) for a basic older car, but there are lots of options so let us know and we can help you out.

Travelling before or after your stay here can also be provided by booking with the project co-ordinator and get some great discounts on;

- Bazbus www.bazbus.com 5% discount
- Nomad Overland Tours www.nomadtours.co.za 10% discount

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;

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

Included in the full Volunteering Fee:

  • 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

Excluding are the following:

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

Dates and duration

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.


Be there for the kids at Missionvale every dayIt is important that volunteers are aware of:

  • Respecting the vision and mission of this project.
  • Having an independent attitude
  • Being flexible in the tasks and activities
  • Having an open mind and will to make a difference.

This is a challenging and diverse project where you will learn and see many things you have never seen before. With your preferences and the need at the time of you being there you will make a plan to make the most of it. This is Africa and things don’t always happen as wished or wanted, so be flexible and have the time of your life!!


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
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.

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

Make a life with what you giveOn arrival you will receive a local SIM card. So make sure your Smartphone is SIM lock free so you can use this card. Otherwise bring an old phone to use the local SIM card and you can use your Smartphone for Whatsapp and such matters.

Summers get really warm and winters very cold. This is a summer rain fall area. There is usually no snow in winter.

Summer (Dec, Jan and Feb): 16 – 45 ˚ Celsius
Autumn (Mar, April and May): 10 - 32 ˚ Celsius
Winter (June, July and Aug): -5 - 25 ˚ Celsius
Spring (Sep, Oct and Nov): 10 - 32 ˚ Celsius

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.

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 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

Cultural DiversityEspecially 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 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.
 - ‘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.


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! www.volunteercard.com

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 faeces. 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.


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 Africa. You are personally responsible for ensuring that passports, visas, vaccination certificates and other travel documents are in order and for all costs relation 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 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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