GVI Community operations in South Africa are based out of Gordons Bay, a picturesque coastal village nestled at the foot of the Hottentot Hollands Mountain Range, just outside Stellenbosch and 45 minutes from Cape Town. The area is home to beautiful swimming beaches, magnificent wine farms and popular restaurants and bars. Gordons Bay is also the beginning of the scenic and well-known Garden Route, making this the perfect base to explore the best sites and activities the Cape has to offer.
Experience South Africa's beautiful city of Cape Town when you volunteer at a township educare centre or sanctuary for disadvantaged children. Provide the children with much needed educational enhancement through educational games, arts and crafts, and help create a fun, safe and creative learning environment. Take in the sights and sounds of the magical Cape in your free time.
The incredible city of Cape Town is rich in history, culture and natural beauty. However, there are still many people living in poverty and GVI is working in townships to provide children in these areas with educational opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to them.
Our project works with a number of educare centres within townships in Cape Town that provide early years education to local children. This volunteer project involves providing a safe, fun and creative environment for these children, giving them the opportunity to develop to their full potential.
You will be involved in planning and implementing a project which uses educational games, song and dance, arts and crafts, gross and fine motor co-ordination and storytelling to allow these children to have fun while learning and developing at the same time. As part of the curriculum, volunteers help to teach the children the importance of a healthy lifestyle and teach topics such as hygiene, exercise and healthy diet.
Living in an attractive coastal village close to Cape Town and Stellenbosch, you will experience direct exposure to local culture and communities. Optional side trips are available to the likes of Robben Island, Table Mountain, Cape Point, Cape Town wildlife safari and wine tasting in Stellenbosch, to name but a few! You will be able to book your own side trips on arrival in Cape Town either with other volunteers or with local tour operators. For those travelling onwards there is easy access to the Garden Route and cheap domestic flights to Kruger National park from Cape Town.
This volunteer project will ensure that these children will be able to develop to their full potential in a safe, creative and caring environment. Please note, this program offers durations up to 24 weeks. Speak to your Country Expert for more details of extending your stay in-country.
From Monday to Friday you will travel by minibus from your accommodation to the townships to work with the children. The typical day will run from around 9am to 4pm with an hour break for lunch. After returning to your accommodation you may then spend time planning and preparing resources for the next day’s lessons.
Training is provided on arrival and includes teacher training, lesson planning, a local language lesson and class management. Ongoing daily support is provided by GVI staff at the project sites.
Accommodation is in houses/apartments with shared rooms and bathrooms, with access to hot running water and electricity.
Weekends are free for you to explore the local area with many different side trips and activities available such as a safari day trip and Cape Town cultural weekend.
What's It like?
If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.
We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.
Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.
Follow GVI Cape-Town's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.
As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.
Meet The Team - Senior Field Management
Regional Director for Africa
Meet Richard. Within GVI, he is the Regional Director for Africa. This covers both Ghana and South africa. He is currently based in Limpopo, South Africa, near our wildlife conservation base Karongwe Game Reserve. This is perfect for Richard as it allows him to carry out his passion for wildlife conservation, education, and the process of linking the two together. Further Richard has a Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Ecology.
An interesting fact about Richard is he loves bird watching, and labels himself as being a bit of a bird nerd!
This is Sian, the Program Manager in Gordon’s Bay. Before joining us in Gordon’s Bay Sian previously worked as a Social Worker back in the UK and now has since traveled to 33 countries!
Meet The Team - In-Country Staff
Assistant Program Manager
Meet Charlotte, who is the Assistant Program Manager at GVI’s base in Gordons Bay, Cape Town. In 2012 she took part in a GVI Community Development and Conservation Project in Kenya. After this, she went on to study Cultural Studies and Social Anthropology at the University of Kent in the UK. Charlotte has lived most of her life in Africa and is also lucky enough to have visited an array of other countries.
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Our Cape Town based community development programs involve researching, planning and delivering practical skills workshops in the local community alongside the direction of local partners
We have partnered with a well-known various educare centres across Cape Town to implement and deliver educational programs to young children. We have been working with our current partners in the Nomzamo township for more than six years, and see the relationship as a long term partnership with core underlying sustainable principles. By participating on a GVI program in this region, you will also be bridging the gap between educational and developmental stimulation needed for the younger generation. We provide support where it is needed by our partners and local communities.
Our Partners In Cape Town
GVI Cape Town Long-term Objectives:
1. Improving the quality of education in Nomzamo and Zola.
2. Promoting gender equality in the local community
3. Increasing the health, self-sufficiency and wellbeing of community members with less resources available to them.
4. Increasing in-country capacity by providing long term training to help the local community achieve their long term sustainability objectives.
The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.
A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.
For All GVI Participants
Introduction to GVI as a whole and the work in your specific location. Learn about the short, mid, and long-term objectives of the sustainable development projects at your base, which United Nations Development Goals they impact most directly, and which local partners we work with.
Health and Safety Training
Learn about the Emergency Action Plans in place at your base, the full Risk Assessment, and best practices for personal safety.
Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Training
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. There are many local tour operators offering a wide variety of excursions; or alternatively, many of our volunteers like to team up in country to plan weekend trips together.
Here are some of the exciting local sights and activities that you might want to check out during your stay: Scenery:
Take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain.
Go hiking in Table Mountain National Park or the many other nature reserves.
Travel to Cape Point, noted for its natural beauty, where you can see baboons, antelope, and zebra.
Make the trip to Cape Agulhas, Africa’s Southernmost point.
Visit a private game reserve, two hours outside Cape Town, where you can spot lions, leopards, cheetah, rhino, hippo, and buffalo.
Book a Garden Route tour, traveling along the lush Indian Ocean coast and visit the beautiful Tsitsikamma National Park. From June to November this is the ideal location for spotting whales.
Travel to the Cederberg mountains, to hike the mountain trails and admire San rock art.
Visit the vineyards of Costania, under the shadow of Table Mountain, or Stellenbosch, about one hour outside Cape Town.
Explore Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, where many of the indigenous plants unique to the region can be seen.
Surfing at one of the many beaches.
Diving or snorkeling.
Shark cage diving.
Rock climbing and abseiling on Table Mountain or the many other ranges in the area.
Horse riding on the beach.
Robben Island, which use to function as a jail for notable political prisoners including Nelson Mandela.
Castle Of Good Hope, the first colonial building in Cape Town.
The District Six Museum, which honours the forcible removal of residents from the area during the apartheid era.
The Bo Kaap Museum, which reflects on the Islamic traditions in the area since colonial times.
The Slave Lodge, creates awareness around the past influences of slavery on the city.
Further Travel In South Africa:
Kruger National Park, South Africa’s largest wildlife park, in the North of the country.
The Drakensberg Mountains, the ‘Mountain of Dragons’, and its famous river canyon.
Addo Elephant Park, a refuge for African Elephants.
The desert habitats of the Karoo and Kalahari.
The historic and verdant Zululand region.
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.
Cape Town immersion
Cape Town is a bustling melting pot of culture, considering it is a fairly complex, multicultural city with a fascinating history. There are many activities you could participate in while visiting the region, including township tours, taking language lessons, visiting the V&A Waterfront, going for a walk on the sea promenade, going whale watching in the bay, as well as exploring the various local cuisines on offer in the multitude of suburbs across the city.
The country has celebrated over twenty years of democracy, usher in by the inauguration of former president Nelson Mandela in a historical moment in 1994. South Africa is often referred to as the rainbow nation to describe the country’s multicultural diversity, especially in the wake of apartheid and this is something participants are encouraged to learn more about both before and during their time visiting the country and engaging with the local population.
South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th largest country in the world by land area, with a diverse cultural population of over 56 million people.
The population of South Africa is made of a diverse number of ethnic groups and cultures. There are also eleven official languages.
Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.
We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.
Our 10 Ethical Commitments
Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
Working Against Dependency
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
Responsible Exit Strategies
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
Clear Roles & Specialized Training
We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
Respect for all
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
Transitioning from the Orphanage Model
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
Child and Vulnerable adult policies
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.
We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.
Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’
Parent Info Pack
Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:
Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office. Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios. Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page. Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.
Support & Safety
We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.
Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.
Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.
It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.
As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.
The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.
Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.
24-hour emergency phone
24-hour in-country support
Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
Airport transfers (before 10pm on scheduled days only)
All necessary project equipment and materials
All necessary project training by experienced staff
Daily transport to and from project sites
Long term experienced staff
Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)