This project offers a rare opportunity to combine community development and environmental protection. Volunteers will work directly with children from a local day-care centre but will also support environmental conservation efforts on a working game reserve.
|Location||Paterson (closest town: Port Elizabeth), South Africa|
|Duration||From 2 weeks|
|Dates||All year round|
|Documents required||Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance|
|Day of arrival||Monday|
|Day of departure||Monday|
This pioneering conservation project is the result of several farming families working together to form a private game reserve approximately 8500 hectares in size. It is actively managed as a protected area.
It is a unique conservation initiative that allows animals to be re-introduced to the area where they once roamed freely and so is making a contribution to the conservation of the natural heritage.
This project provides an insight into the environmental issues and management of a game reserve by assisting the Conservation Centre. It also contributes to community upliftment through a local day-care centre, whilst also providing an element of fun for those who participate.
Monday to Friday (8 hours a day), weekends are off. Time to start and finish work will depend on the activities of the day and time of the year.
There is a dedicated volunteer coordinator at the project who arranges the work and activities for the volunteers. Two days a week, you will spend your time at a day care centre and on the other three days, you will stay at the game reserve.
Typical tasks at the day care centre for vulnerable children or the two Primary schools include working with children of all ages. You may be reading, teaching or playing with the kids. There also organisational tasks: fixing things, gardening, etc.
You will also get involved with community clean-ups and craft projects.
At the game reserve, you are involved with tracking lions and monitoring their wellbeing, game counts, road maintenance or clearing alien plants. There are also lectures and discussions on various topics like birding and hunting.
It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. Activities vary a lot and are not guaranteed. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the volunteer, the time of the year and the work that needs to be done. The final job description can therefore vary substantially from the above.
Your accommodation is in the renovated Old Railway Station in Sandflats. Sandflats is part of the Paterson Village, which is 10 km from the reserve. You are accommodated in a 11-bedroom house, which overlooks a large garden and is within walking distance of the local bar and basic shops. Two volunteers usually share a room, and there are 5 bathrooms (with hot showers) to share.
Bedding as well as towels will be provided. Laundry is available. There is a communal dining and sitting room with Netflix and WiFi as well as a well-equipped kitchen with adjoining office space.
The house also has a swimming pool, an outside seating area with a braai (BBQ) and a fire pit for chilly nights and social gatherings.
Yan from France
“I volunteered at the Conservation & Community Project for 2 weeks with fauna and flora. It was my first volunteer experience and I definitely liked it. It was so impressive because I had never seen the big 5 who are known to be dangerous. Wildlife in general was totally unknown to me. I’ve been satisfied to see them and to participate in tasks to preserve animals and take care of the reserve. Rangers were so kind and so passionate. I learnt so many things. I spent a third week in Cape Town where I stayed and played with children. I was looking for a social aspect to help the local community and was so happy to see kids smiling while their economic situation and sometimes their life is difficult. They are an example to me. I will not forget this extraordinary experience and this life lesson. Good Hope Volunteers has supported me throughout my experience and I thank the staff.
"Thank you so much for everything, how beautiful this project was, I was thrilled at each end of the day. My goal on the trip was to participate in the care of fauna and flora, together with the community (children). It was then that it was recommended to go to Conservation and Community. It was all perfect. The house is comfortable, I made friends for my whole life, it was difficult to leave them. All the activities we performed during the week were extremely important and unforgettable moments. Lucky me that I met you on my way, it's worth every second. You are important to the world! Keep it up, congratulations on being kind and empathizing with the world. ”
Vitoria from Brazil
"This was the end of the most different and incredible journey I've ever had! If I could say just one thing to all the people who feel like doing a volunteer program: do it! It is worth all the hassles and nothing in the world buys you that smile from ear to ear, as a child gaining a little bit of attention from you. Come, but you have to come with your mind open! An open mind helps you to understand that you will not be the centre of attention here, that your limit ends when the other's space begins and that means, for example, that you will not have that selfie you wanted feeding one of the animals - they are not there for you, you are in their space.
They are born to be free and not caged. You'll also need to leave your luxuries at home. It was completely impossible to leave the house here and not get dusty all over. There were days when we came home and we just wanted to take a shower and then there no water at home! But it's okay, they run out of water every day from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. The animals are the most incredible thing that a lot of people think about when coming to Africa - they are beautiful, but you have no idea how much more beautiful the children are! We spent a few days at a local school and I was completely enchanted with the children's eyes here & how we get upset for nothing and care about things that aren’t worth our time. Most of the children do not speak English, which complicates the communication, but that's where the best part happens, you learn that the language of love is universal! Everyone understands a hug, a caring gesture and a little attention. I’m going home happy, leaving a little of me here and taking Africa to heart!"
Lucien from France
"I'm leaving Paterson and the humanitarian project in a couple of hours. Those 3 weeks were absolutely incredible. I first really missed my family and my friends to be fair, but after a couple of days, I was really appreciating everything we did. This project permitted me to discover a new way of life. Here, the life isn’t the same as in my country: the people are really more friendly, everyone say hello to each other even if they don’t know him, and I really appreciated that. Even if some days were quite hard physically (digging some holes, cutting some cactuses or bushes, etc…), I liked everyone of them. I also met children. I passed 3 days with them. To be fair, I preferred the day I passed with the orphans. I felt a better proximity with them than with the children of the schools. I thought I would have passed more days/afternoons with them but I couldn’t. Finally and maybe the most important thing, I saw animals in the game reserve. I first of all want to thank my guide because he was really professional and really friendly. I saw every animals I wanted to see: lions, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, and a lot more. Thanks to the guide I could also make a lot of activities (bungy jumping, visit of PE, canoe, and more). So to conclude I really enjoyed those 3 weeks: I met new people, I discovered a new way of life, I practiced my english, I saw every animals I wanted to see. So I really recommend that humanitarian project to anyone who hesitate to do it!"
Giovana from Brazil
"My experience there was amazing, a little bit different from what I expected, but still amazing. Knowing the culture from another country, and be able to know the people that live there was really special. I hope that I could bring some love for the kids there, because they filled my heart with love! Hope I can go back soon!"
Poulette from Chile
"I came to South Africa chasing the adventure, I wanted to travel to a place that was completely different to my country. I never thought that I could find what I found here. Simple people, beautiful souls. I met other volunteers that became my friends. I met people with real problems, but as happy as anyone else in the world, it made me think of how my life has been and how lucky I was. I started a little campaign on facebook to help the locals, I wrote all my experience here and most of the people from my country (Chile) had an amazing response, they sent me a lot of money and I could buy stuff for a little school here, I bought the food, clothes, shoes. We made a party and it was so incredible to see how a bag of ballons made such a huge difference to those kids, just to see their faces made me happy and totally paid here. South Africa changed my life in a way that I could have never imagine before. I heard once that a trip is not measured in km, it is measured in friends; and after this trip I strongly believe it. It was the first time that I travelled alone, but I come back to my country with a whole bag of friends around the world, with my heart full of love and with the most amazing experience of my life. I will always remember this trip as the one that made most impact in my life. Thank you for this opportunity!!"
Michaela from Germany
"The accommodation was very homey, familiar and more comfortable than I thought. We were four volunteers from Germany, France and the UK. After one week two left and a new girl from California and another from Spain came. For me it was a challenge to understand them all. But it worked perfect – thanks to the English lessons I had before! Every evening we cooked together in the big kitchen and had a lot of fun with several card games! At the beginning of every week Ebin, our volunteer coach, gave us an overview what we will do that week and we got instructions for the day. The task were as varied as the description in the project information. Some days we were outside in the bush and did game drives the whole day: looking after a Cape Mountain Zebra with a foal to see if they were healthy, counting different groups of game, tracking and monitoring lions and cheetahs with their cubs to see if they were healthy and wellbeing. On other days we planted some trees and a lot of bushes along a highway for sight protection, or cleared alien plants. At last I saw all the wild ‘Big Five’ in the stunning nature!
At the Foundation I worked at a day care centre for children in Paterson Town. Most of these children don’t have parents anymore because of HIV/AIDS. At this day care centre they find a place to play in the kindergarten or to stay after school. They get help with their homework, regularly meals and in this case they get a chance for a kind of normal way of life. One of our projects there was to paint one side of the kindergarten house. With lots of translation from the kindergarten teacher, because the kids are all Xhosa, we found out what the kids wanted us to paint. So we painted a big snake, a tree in front of the house and high grass. Playing with the kids and building sand castles and whirling kids around doesn’t need translations. They were so sweet and very kind.
For me one of the most spectacular moments was an early morning sun rise, the mist was hanging over the ground and then we saw 16 elephants coming out of the bush, walking in a line along the river – like in the Disney movie ‘The Jungle Book’. They were only 10 meters away and I didn’t hear anything! We didn’t even know they were there when they came out. You can’t imagine that so many elephants didn’t make any noise. Unbelievable!
At the end I can say: every day was different and very interesting. I learnt a lot about the circle of conservation in general and animal protection at South Africa in particular. I learnt how important it is to save our nature and the animals – and it doesn’t matter in which country! Nature and animals are all unique and wonderful. It’s our mission to save them for our children.
If someone is thinking about volunteering or only wants a different holiday, doing something useful and liking nature, animals and children – you are just right here! Please do it! Believe me, you will never regret it! This trip changed my life and if I’ll ever get the chance to work in South Africa I’ll immediately come back…"