Women's Refuge

The project plays a critical role in protecting, supporting and empowering women, and their children, who are survivors of domestic violence, abuse and stigmatisation. Its main mission is to assist those in crisis to help heal holistically, including physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

Women's Refuge


Location Cape Town, South Africa
Duration From 2 - 12 weeks
Dates All year round (females only)
  • You must have an Intermediate level (B1) of English
  • Special skills: You need to be energetic and playful and ready to participate actively.
  • Special skills: You should love community work, be confident when interacting with women and children and display sensitivity and empathy. Emotional maturity is a pre-requisite.
Minimum Age: 18
Your impact
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance, police clearance certificate
Day of arrival Sunday
Day of departure Saturday


  • Help make this world a better place for abused and emotionally drained women and children.
  • The skills trainer is there to assist; the staff is helpful and supportive.
  • Enjoy working in a safe environment.
  • Cultural immersion: volunteering in a different cultural context provides the opportunity to learn about the local way of life and various traditions.
  • Get personal support from the volunteer coordinator.
  • Make new friends from all over the world.
  • Experience amazing tours and adventures in and around Cape Town.
  • Half-day option: learn English in the morning – volunteer in the afternoon.

Project Information

The Women’s Refuge project was established in 1959. Help and hope is provided regardless of race or religion by empowering through partnership, not only through charity. The women and their children live at the house for a short-term crisis stay of three months, providing a safe haven for them.        

The women and children receive three balanced meals a day, clothing, toiletries and bedding.
They are also offered professional therapeutic services, such as individual or group counselling with qualified social workers and outside organisations that deal with survivors of domestic violence, rape, etc. Assistance with legal matters and medical requirements is also granted.
Small children are able to stay in the full-time childcare facility while older children are helped with placement in schools or are home-schooled.

A fully equipped skills training centre, run by a full-time skills trainer, offers bead-work, sewing, decoupage, card making, fabric painting and computer literacy. Skills training is an integral part of the therapeutic programme. Through intentional creative activities and reflection, residents increase personal capacity to recognise their own abilities, strengths, and potential. Furthermore, the activities create an awareness of setting directed-action goals, which impacts their personal healing process.
The project also provides spiritual upliftment, prepares women for job interviews, organises group sessions and human-rights workshops.

Your Role

Please note that this project is available for female volunteers only.

Full-day volunteers
Monday – Friday, 9:30 -17:00

Afternoon volunteering only:
Monday – Friday, 13:30 – 17:00, participate in the afternoon activities.

Your tasks will be:

  • Assisting the childcare teacher with the children
  • Helping prepare healthy meals for the children
  • Handing out food to the children, helping feed the smallest ones
  • Teaching the children how to colour in and read, and playing with them (the best therapy)
  • Administration
  • Storage clearing
  • Sorting out donations
  • Gardening, household care and maintenance

During the daily women’s skills training workshops you will assist by:

  • getting the right material for sewing or beading workshops
  • doing basic literacy training for the ladies (this is for when they get to sell the products they have made e.g. necklaces, earrings, cushions, tote bags, etc.)
  • facilitating sewing or beading workshops
  • helping the participants to choose the right fabric or design when beading or sewing
  • encouraging the participants to be more self-reliant 

If you have experience with social work, the project will also try to have their social workers include you into their responsibilities and tasks.

It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the volunteer and the work that needs to be done. The final job description can therefore vary substantially from the above.

This project can be emotionally draining. It is important that you are aware of this before applying for this project. We will assist you during your stay to make sure that you are coping with the experience, but you need to be mentally prepared to be open to the challenge.


You will live at the Volunteer House. It is a private house in an upmarket residential area in Cape Town. Volunteers are accommodated in twin bedrooms but may upgrade to single rooms upon request. There are 4 bathrooms to share, a communal kitchen to cater for yourself, a dining room, a lounge with TV and DVD and a beautiful garden with a swimming pool.
Bedding is provided. Towels will not be provided.
There is a washing machine at the residence for you to use. It works with tokens which can be purchased for R40 per load.