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Volunteer, internships and research opportunities

Founded to ‘Go Truly Local’™ to address the challenges and inhibitors to sustainable social and environmental development, we have a long track record of hosting volunteers, interns and researchers from across the world seeking practical experience and involvement in communities where we work. We are embedded in communities and align the needs of the community with the skills, knowledge and talents of contributing visitors who join us as co-collaborators. As well as benefits to local communities, visitors feedback that the experience and knowledge gained has a significant impact on their perspectives, career pathway and lifelong aspirations.

You may find it interesting and fun to check out our postcards ‘Out of Africa’ where a small sample of the many volunteers, interns and researchers  share their experiences. Also check out the diaries of recent volunteers from our partners at Carpe Diem Education – MacKenzieAbby and Leora who joined in 2022/23, and the video below from Sara who spent 3 months as a tourism intern in 2018 and returned in 2022 to work alongside our founder. Keep reading to find out more about the opportunities that await you. . . . 

Our thinking and the way we work

In line with our founding ‘Memorandum of Incorporation & Intent’, this page provides context and information on our integrated projects you could participate in.  With our commitment to make a tangible difference, it is fair to say we don’t develop projects and welcome volunteers, interns and researchers randomly. Over a protracted consultative period, our team works with communities to identify challenges which are innovated into outcomes-based opportunities for both communities and our valued visitors. From our experience there are two main profiles of volunteers, interns or researchers:

  • those who mainly come to make a difference and learn whilst participating hands on in our sustainability projects. This includes students and researchers who are looking to develop their skills and knowledge as part of their career progression.
  • those who would like to engage in some volunteering as part of their visitor travel itinerary and experience.

So, what does this mean?

Dreamcatcher South Africa NPC follows a human centred approach underpinning economic efficiency, social justice and fostering peaceful co-collaboration as a cornerstone of sustainability throughout our projects. Our aim is long-term results, improved livelihoods, and self -sufficiency for communities and the environment where they live. We are embedded in communities and globally recognised for our approach and impact. Leaving no one behind, we work in an inclusive way. In partnership with communities, organisations, volunteers, interns and researchers, we are a melting pot of change makers sharing skills, knowledge, experience and passion. This fosters an environment of enterprise and creativity. In short, we ‘walk the talk’.

Dreamcatcher South Africa NPC has responded to the United Nations Development Goals since 2000, embedding the ethos and principles of the Goals in an integrated way throughout our projects. Due to our long-term collaboration and research in communities, we have developed a portfolio of integrated projects and opportunities aligned to local needs and challenges. We have a series of ongoing projects which you can join based on your interests, talent -and skills, or we can developed purposed opportunities for your personal development. You can choose to work on one elective or engage on a range of projects. This offers you the opportunity to diversify, join in to add value. Life in communities is dynamic. Sudden occurrences take place. Dreamcatcher responds to these events with flexibility – and there are opportunities for you to join our team. In addition, opportunities arise to conduct impact research or innovate while you are with us – or develop your own research project.

Opportunities to join us

Below are examples of projects we have worked on to respond to community and environmental needs.

Working with Youth and Children

  • Dreamcatcher after school enrichment and wellbeing
  • Teaching assistance at local schools; increasing literacy, numeracy and cognitive development
  • Volunteering at pre-schools
  • During holidays and weekends working and mentoring the Dreamcatcher Kids
  • Youth at risk
  • Sharing your own interests and hobbies – and developing projects with us
Evert 2017
Evert (Netherlands) volunteering at Melkhoutfontein Primary School in 2017 focusing on fitness and exercise as a cornerstone of wellbeing
Romy volunteering
Romy (Netherlands) volunteered at Melkhoutfontein Primary School and with Dreamcatcher Kids in 2018

Skills Transfer

  • Dreamcatcher Sustainable Futures Centre – a multipurpose hub for enterprise development (under development)
  • Making arts, crafts and products
  • Mentoring and presentation skills
  • Computer and IT literacy
Charlotte Country Day school engaging with Melkhoutfontein youth
Charlotte Country Day School (NC, USA) staff and students volunteered on a range of projects in 2014. This included mentoring and skills transfer with youth and also environmental action, and food growing
Karima teaching computer skills in Upington
Karima (Netherlands) teaching computer skills in Upington in 2001

Environment and Sustainability

Scarlett volunteering
Scarlett (USA) volunteering on conservation projects with our collaborators Wild Rescue
Tor and Beverly planting in the Dreamcatcher garden in 2020
Tor and Beverly (USA) volunteered in 2020. They were involved in a range of projects - which included environmental and climate action.

Health and Wellness

Mackenzie 2022
Mackenzie (USA) volunteered for 3 months in 2022 focusing on environmental and climate action projects including food growing, composting and removing invasive species
Dentaid volunteers in Melkhoutfontein in 2020. Over 2 weeks the Dentaid team saw 255 patients for treatment and to assess their dental needs. Oral health education classes were also delivered in Melkhoutfontein to over 800 learners

Re-awakening Culture and Heritage

Abby and Leora volunteering with the DC Kids
Abby and Leora (USA) from the Carpe Diem Latitudes Programme volunteered in 2023 - this included taking the Dreamcatcher Kids to the Stilbaai Tourism Bureau and Blombos Archaeology museum to learn about their local culture and heritage. They volunteered on a host of other sustainability impact projects during their 3 month tenure
Southern Cross 6
Many volunteers from around the world have worked with the local community on the PaintUp with Kamamma project celebrating the rich culture and heritage of the Melkhoutfontein and environs, including Diane and Pieter

Sustainable Tourism

"We were extremely fortunate to find Dreamcatcher South Africa as a prime example of sustainable tourism. Dreamcatcher has changed the way that our students think about the planning, implementation, and growth of sustainable tourism and its application in community-based tourism experiences, bringing diverse intra-cultural encounters to life".

Internships (note this is usually University and College student interns)

  • Destination, product and services development
  • Itinerary and travel route planning
  • Tourism bookings and channeling
Tess sustainable tourism intern in 2020
Tess (Belgium) from the University of Vive was a sustainable tourism intern in 2020. Over this time Tess was engaged in the full spectrum of developing a sustainable tourism experience - from destination development to handling bookings
Sara volunteering 2022
Sara (Belgium) volunteered as sustainable tourism intern in 2018 . Sara has since returned twice and has been working with our founder on 'Go Truly Local' tourism experiences and visiting them globally

Research, Development and Knowledge Sharing

  • To inform and guide strategic -and outcomes based sustainable development projects
Students form St Paul's College
Lecturers and students from Paul Smith's College (Canada) researching best practice sustainable tourism models in 2020
Group of students from University of Singapore
For many years we have hosted students and staff from schools and Universities to undertake research, and exchange knowledge. For example in 2005 we hosted a group from the University of Singapore who were researching the impact of sustainable tourism

Next steps

Dreamcatcher supports you from your initial interest through to the delivery of your programme. If you are interested in joining, we would be elated to hear from you – please Contact us.

On receipt of your expression of interest we will set up an online meeting to find out more about you, and your aspirations. If you are a student this will include a discussion on the expectations of the education institution you are currently enrolled at, or you applying to. If following our chat, you decide to pursue joining the Dreamcatcher Team, we ask you to complete a registration document, and we then work with you on an ongoing basis to finalise your programme. Also check out the Frequently Asked Questions.

Whilst volunteering you may want to explore South Africa and beyond. We are travel-route -and itinerary development experts and know the country and its people inside out. One of our best attributes is our credibility in communities across the country. These qualities empower us to develop bespoke itineraries connecting you with unique experiences most visitors to the African continent never knew existed.

When volunteering typically you will have weekends and public holidays free – but when applicable there might be opportunities to volunteer at these times – you can bank and accumulate these days allowing you to explore.

A small sample of our volunteers share their experiences below.

Postcards and Reflections - Out of Africa
Volunteer Postcards - Out of Africa