Volunteer for Early Childhood Development in South Africa

Pretoria, South Africa Children & Youth Development



If compassionate care for the the little ones -- perhaps the most vulnerable population in South Africa--tugs at your heartstrings, and the idea of volunteering on a Big 5 Game Reserve excites you, look no further. Hero Holidays’ Babies in the Bush is a one-of-a-kind Early Child Development (ECD) program that benefits 1,681 children through the training programs and workshops it organizes for 18 nearby daycare centers.

Babies in the Bush is located one hour outside of Johannesburg in the middle of the malaria-free Dinokeng Game Reserve (DGR). This open environment is a departure from the cramped lifestyle many of these impoverished children face. In the day care program, you will lead kids in games and exercises that allow them to run freely and play. A sports program with basic movement skills supports the development of basic motor skills.

And for the really little ones, there is the Baby Safe House. This is a safe haven for babies where volunteers provide the extra hands needs to care for babies in the primary development stage. It is also a practical learning center, where one can learn how to take care of small children.

Between both program, you will have the opportunity to provide holistic care for kids of all ages, while educating and empowering their caregivers.


Although the children might not be able to tell you about your impact in their own words, the light in their eyes, the smiles on their faces, and their laughter when you sing, dance, and play with them should give you a good idea just how much your contribution means. On the other hand, the Baby Safe House Staff will welcome your help changing nappies, bathing and creaming the little ones, feeding, washing baby clothes and bedding, and with maintaining the facilities.

Teachers will be greatly impacted by your help making teaching aids and preparing creative activities, rooms, food, and materials for special events.

You can take great pride in knowing that you did not just enjoy the beauty of the Dinokeng Big 5 Game Reserve but you helped to maintain the grounds. Volunteers should not be shy about rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands a little dirty when beautifying the day care center playgrounds, or tending to the garden, vegetable tunnels, and fruit trees by watering, weeding, mowing, and assisting with special landscaping projects.

Field conditions

Volunteers will divide their time between the Baby Safe House and the Day Care Center, with its garden, vegetable tunnels, and fruit trees all located on the grounds of the Dinokeng Game Reserve (DGR).

This beautiful reserve has been described as a canvas for the 5 senses, and one of the first free-roaming Big 5 reserves, undiminished by its proximity to an urbanized area. Its beautiful lodges and restaurants attact visitors from all over the world.

Arrival and orientation

You will arrive in Johannesburg on a Thursday for a free three-day orientation. You will learn about local customs, social skills, transport and much more. Here’s how each day will pan out:

Day 1

A tour of Johannesburg by foot

Getting to know the local culture

The opportunity to take in evening entertainment including movies, music, and more

Day 2

Visiting the local market

Sampling delicious food in the market

An evening at leisure to enjoy the local entertainment

Day 3

Late brunch at a gourmet artisanal food market

Transfer to Dinokeng Big 5 Game Reserve, just over an hour from Johannesburg.

During the course of your stay and weather permitting, a microlight flight or a 2 hour game drive is included.

Your stay


  • HousingVolunteer house

  • Provided mealsBreakfast, dinner

Accommodation description

Accommodations are provided at the Volunteer House on the range. Breakfast and dinner are served daily. Volunteers can look forward to gathering at monthly socials.


Volunteers will be staying in a volunteer house.


from $533 USDper week

from $533 USDper week


What’s included

  • Certificate & report on individual volunteer`s program, should this be required

  • Monthly get-togethers (socials) for volunteers to meet other volunteers (cost depends on social)

  • A south african sim cellphone (mobile) card that works on a pay-as-you-go top up system

  • Donation per month to the volunteer project, to assist in their funding

  • Two meals a day - breakfast and dinner

  • Accommodation in volunteer house

  • Appointed supervisor for duration of program

  • All paperwork, placement and liaising with staff at the volunteer program

  • Airport transfers

  • Orientation that covers everything the volunteers need to know about staying in south africa (from social skills to transport and safety)

What’s not included

  • Airfare

  • Transport to accommodation if you arrive before start date or leave after project

  • Accommodation if you arrive before start date or after project end

  • Towels and toiletries

  • Use of phone: landline or mobile costs

  • Catered meals

  • Local transport for social activities

  • Weekend excursions

  • Medical insurance which must include work, emergency evacuation. please make sure you understand how your medical insurance works in south africa as we will be unable to pay for any doctor accounts or

Start dates

Projects start every Thursday and are available year-round.

Hero Holidays was founded by Lorraine Keenan, a proud inhabitant of Johannesburg of Irish heritage. This venture was started after she went on a camping trip in Malawi, where she met volunteers and exchanged several stories with them. It motivated her to start something that would ensure young people were getting the necessary care and experience to become functioning members of society.

Hero Holidays’ Volunteer Programs has long been a registered social enterprise, empowering itself with its firm belief that NGOs and other development projects cannot survive on donations alone. For this program to become profitable and a successful long-term venture, volunteers are needed to achieve these goals. Using your skills to fill needs and fulfill dreams. The project not only benefits people Hero Holidays are meant to help, but those volunteers who provide help that makes a difference. A win-win situation for all involved that makes everyone feel adequate and wanted.

Lorraine has a deep passion and commitment to the development and upliftment of impoverished communities in South Africa. Her work is supported by her 35 years of experience in philanthropic endeavors as well as in sustainable development in Gauteng.

Hero Holidays is accredited with the following:

– Member of the South African Youth Travel Confederation

– Hero Holidays is compliant to the National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism (SANS 1162) which is aligned to the International Standard (ISO/IEC 17011)

– Hero Holidays is a registered participant of The Climate Reality Project

Their wish is to change the image volunteer travel often portrays. Too many times, these volunteer missions present imagery of volunteer travel where people jump off a plane saying, “I’m here to help you.” At Hero Holidays, people are welcomed with volunteers who say. "I'm here to learn from you, how I can be of help, now, or in the future." It’s more than just words; it’s an unbreakable commitment that builds hope and trust for an eternity.

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