The volunteering program
Have a look at MacKenzie’s volunteering diary: A Photo Journey – South Africa – International Gap Year Programs | Carpe Diem Education. Carpe Diem is one of our partner organizations.
Depending on your project or combination of projects you will generally work Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 4pm with 30 minutes to 1-hour lunch break but days and times may vary from project to project. (Times depending on the season). Volunteers are encouraged to be flexible and be advised that changes may occur due to the needs of the projects and unforeseen circumstances.
Generally: Have dinner and spend time with your host family. In case you wish to be involved with community activities during the evenings please consult your local site mentor. You can even cook with the family or share your own favourite food !
During the weekends you will have time to explore the area. Please take note that it is not the task of your Homestay hosts to show you around, nor is it included in your volunteer fees, though our local site mentors will share all the local knowledge with you and our “walk about Kamamma’s and Bhuti’s can at a fee take you around in the area. We can arrange this with ease as you will be familiar with the people you will go about and explore with. If you wish to explore the region, please contact your local site mentor or Dreamcatcher for assistance. Many opportunities exist to explore but being part of the local community is an endearing and unique experience. There are many tours and safari options available, perfect for a weekend break (depending on your volunteer location), and Dreamcatcher is happy to assist volunteers with any arrangements they may wish to make.
Support and advice is available on a 24/7/365 basis by a well developed Dreamcatcher tried and tested communication and mentoring mechanism.
On arrival in Cape Town all volunteers undergo an orientation programme, which is included into the fee. Developed over 25 years and researched in terms of volunteer needs to be the best volunteer they can be, this Dreamcatcher orientation programme, which is mandatory at the onset of your stay with us for just 1 to 2 days, depending on the time you will be spending with us and the projects you are registered with. Volunteers who have been with us have acclaimed our induction programme. It offers and equips you to “see” out of the box, understand the many facets of South African community life, which impacts on its locals and is also a great learning experience.
Accommodation and meals
Volunteers will reside in a family atmosphere in our homestays. Homestays with Kamamma is a ground breaking project of poverty alleviation and building of universal bridges of intra-cultural understanding. Homestays have been acclaimed as one of the top 3 projects in the world in the’ Investment in People’ Category, offering unique and authentic day-to-day contact with the locals in the communities and home-from-home hospitality. Through this project Dreamcatcher has now communal houses for volunteers as well. Your Homestay hosts and homes have been chosen for their welcome, high level of authentic cultural and lifestyle experience, level of service, and safety. All the Homestay hosts have been trained to receive visitors and offer a heart-warming home-from-home experience.
Please Note: Experience has shown that volunteers living together and working closely with their local site mentors and project managers is the best way of guaranteeing their safety, and being able to attend to their most pressing needs. The site mentors reside with the volunteers in their host communities and it is expected that all volunteers will stay only in the accommodation provided for them. It is not permitted for volunteers to spend nights away from the house in nearby towns or villages unless on pre-arranged sightseeing excursions. The benefit of living in a Dreamcatcher community is that the volunteer will benefit fully from integration into the community and the local volunteer community feels encouraged that it is not a “I the volunteer and them the people approach”, instead the volunteer becomes one of the community and are thus 100% ensured of full co-operation, getting to know the community, so every party will benefit.
Your local hosts will provide basic food, which means 3 meals a day. Breakfast normally consists of cereals and toast; packed (sandwich) lunch to take to your project and a nutritious home cooked dinner (meat & vegetables, rice or potatoes & salad). You can join in on the cooking at your host family if you like. South Africa is blessed with an abundance of fruit, vegetables, and meat like lamb, beef, fish, pork and poultry. This is home from home cooking at its best. Special dietary needs like vegetarian or diabetes can be catered for. Please mention this in your application. Whilst everything is done to provide varied and interesting meals, they will generally be quite simple and volunteers are requested not to be overly fussy or ungrateful with what is provided for them. However, advance notice of any food allergies or specific food requirements is essential.
Volunteers should fly into Cape Town Airport (arrangements to be me made by volunteers themselves) where they will be met by a representative and taken to the volunteer accommodation.
The Community Projects
We support many projects involved with community work in over 100 projects situated in 21 communities across South Africa (see map on our website). It is however important to note that just as life, projects evolve all the time. One day the community needs a schoolroom roof fixed after a storm, built or upgraded, small business development, communication and so forth. By the same token, the next month providing support teaching at a school, HIV patient(s) needs care /mentoring or we need your skills to help us to minimize waste in a community and save on energy and water. The reason being is because we work in the entire community as far as possible, not isolated part of it. Since we work at grass root level in the communities, we are in constant consultation or involvement with the community. We work in a holistic nature and do not bus visitors into a community to “do” volunteering but work sensitively with volunteers and community projects and leaders to find out where help is needed the most.
We consider it significant and important to place some perspective on the issue of “orphanages” in South Africa. In general terms, “orphans” have come to mean children without a living parent. It is important to note that there are very few orphanages, in fact minimal, working with orphans of this nature only. In all the Dreamcatcher communities and projects we are working, our point of departure is to provide support to children and youth at risk, of which some children are without parents and thus “orphaned”, but most of the children and youth who have been placed at the care centres have been abused or abandoned by living parents. It is also important to note that these care centres are in the minority in South Africa (certainly in all the communities Dreamcatcher works in on a day to day basis; and we have been doing this for over 2 decades).
The children most at risk are those abused and abandoned by one or more parents, who must try to survive IN the communities. We have found this to be indicative of many South African communities. In our closely-knit Dreamcatcher communities, the children are thus raised by the community and must make it in the communities. Countless children are in this dire situation and it is there where we place our volunteers and where they can assist us to make the biggest impact: as these children and youth at risk are the leaders and the communities of tomorrow. We can offer amazing feedback on the incredible impact volunteers, working side by side with the community and our local site mentors in each town; have had on the youth and children in these communities. In fact the volunteers become Dreamcatchers and help to shape the future of communities with the Kamammas and Dreamcatcher.
It is also important to note that these many children and youth whom we work with are found mostly outside the cities in rural towns around the country, though we have a few projects in cities. Insofar as development and amenities are concerned, the rural towns are those who lag behind and it is here we our difference is made and felt on a daily basis. Dreamcatcher ethos regarding children and cultures, are aligned to the United Nations Bill of Human Rights. We have listed the Dreamcatcher communities where you can volunteer on the map on our site, but as we tailor all our volunteering for every client and a need, which arises in the community, specific projects are not listed.
It takes approximately 3 years to prepare and consult in a community and the projects, and the hosts with whom the volunteers interface. Since we aim for long-term results and improvement of quality of life, volunteering is not embarked upon by Dreamcatcher as “a fast forward quick fix Activity”. With due diligence and in recognition of the needs and circumstances within a community, years of experience at grass routes have created a special bond between Dreamcatcher and the communities we assist in developing. We recognize the community as the custodians of their environment and their destiny and they are consulted at all times. We have literally walked besides -and with the community over many years.
It is at grass routes, in the regions, towns and countryside, with the local people, where Dreamcatcher has spent over 2 decades. The philosophy of Dreamcatcher and thus the volunteers carefully chosen and monitored in terms of their profile and skills is to help people, to become the best they can be where they live, WITHOUT urbanizing to the cities. Our experience has taught us that the lure of cities are envisioned by the jobless and impoverished as the “ highways of gold “, but sadly ends in unfulfilled dreams which have shattered and changed to a life of one of extreme socio-economic hardship, away from the extended family back home”. We thus aim to spearhead projects to keep the families together and to develop the community to grow so jobs and opportunities can be found.
You will find Dreamcatcher projects, just as with our Homestays and Cook-up experiences, in towns all along the most beautiful travel routes in communities around South Africa. We offer a number of important outcomes to the volunteer:
- To contribute as a team with us in the community to sustainable development and projects.
- To leave a legacy which has impacted on the individuals and community where they volunteered. These impacts can be monitored with us.
- At the same time volunteers have amazing opportunities to gain first hand experience at local level to add to their future work experience and perception of life.
- We also assist the volunteers, at affordable rates to explore and see the “real South Africa” over weekends.
What can you do?
- Gain or share teaching experience in various schools and a tourism training institute
- Assist with teaching English to children and also tutor their teachers and community leaders through the Adult Literacy and learning programme, transferring your specific skills
- Unlock the digital divide by teaching computer skills
- Knowledge and skills transfer on how to minimize household and small business waste and awareness of the impact of waste and energy consumption on the environment.
- Co-ordinate and spear head developmental games with children and take part in sports afternoons
- Sport training and encouraging poor, yet talented youth and children to reach for their potential
- Help develop artistic and musical skills
- Work & observe at home care based organisations typical of the health care needs of the largest number of South African population and local or regional hospitals
- Joining the HIV/Aids home based caretaker, field workers, HIV/Aids support group meetings for both adults and children affected or infected with HIV/Aids, go to the VCT Clinic – this is the local health clinic where the patients get tested for HIV/AIDS and collect their medicines and speak to counselors.
Social Service projects
- Caring for abandoned, orphaned, abused, or runaway children and youth. The main purpose is to feed them and give them a positive perspective to life again. You will work with the probation officer, local volunteers and the auxiliary social worker and help set up or assist with the life skill programmes for these children.
- Assist at day care & skills development centres for (physically and/or mentally) disabled children
- Home for the aged people; volunteer at the home for ageing locals and spend some time with the elders.(senior and ageing citizens). Read them stories, help feeding them and taking care of little things they don’t manage to do anymore. You will learn a lot about the country, life and yourself in conversations with them !
- Implode your knowledge of micro and small business development into the community to help create employment at local level on our: PaintUp wtih Kamamma and Environmental Impact Projects
- Help with building and improving the educational facilities in the community
- Help with keeping the beach/marine and village environment clean and tidy
- Consult & advise best ways to manage and reduce waste IN the community
- Tailor made programmes to suit your skills or your needs for university research etc.
- Experience the local culture – and even learn a local language and lifestyle
- An opportunity to explore South Africa and travel unique paths and lifestyle experiences with us. Its what we do all the time !
Volunteer project fees
What is included
- Airport transfers to and from Cape Town International Airport on arrival and departure
- Full orientation programme
- Full board and lodging at the homestay including 3 meals a day
- On-the-ground assistance from local project managers and site mentors
- Any residue besides the small fee added to the financing, is imploded into the Dreamcatcher Foundation Development programme, to support our projects including funding of items such as medical supplies, building materials, equipment and supplies, school and teaching and sporting resources and even create work in the local community. These fees can also be used to buy vehicles, equipment and even new housing for volunteers in order to expand the project.
- Dreamcatcher has a long history of accountability and outcomes based development.
What is excluded
- Personal travel and medical insurance for the duration of the placement which must include cover for repatriation
- Flights to Cape Town
- All items of a personal nature – curios, gifts, clothing
- Email/internet and all telephone calls
- Soft drinks, wines and spirits
- All visas for border crossings if appropriate
- Any excursions over and above the planned itinerary in Cape Town (see above). For example volunteers may wish to travel down the Garden Route, to see the ostriches or visit the Wild Life ranch etc. The local project managers can help plan these for you in conjunction with Dreamcatcher with who they are in constant contact.