Volunteer at a Children's Hospital in South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa Children & Youth Development



Opened in 1964, this children’s hospital in South Africa’s capital city was opened to cater to impoverished young people without means to afford proper healthcare. Patients are transferred from hospitals such as Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Groote Schuur, Tygerberg, Victoria, and New Somerset Hospital once their conditions have been stabilized.

As a volunteer, your eyes may bulge when witnessing cases affecting patients at Cape Town Children’s Hospital, aged 0 to 12 years. More common cases treated at this hospital include malnutrition, tuberculosis, and effects from foetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy and medical impacts of HIV/AIDS. You will also encounter children who have been victims of physical and sexual abuse.

Many families in Cape Town cannot afford to care for their sick children due to high costs. Whether it’s an inability to keep medicine refrigerated, wounds clean or time to monitor recovery consistently due to other demands, families look to hospitals like these for respite. You will be able to help provide that respite through various tasks. Food preparation, managing donations and toys given out to brighten up a child’s birthday or encourage them once discharged, and tidying play areas, you will hold many responsibilities during each shift. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to teach computer literacy to nurses who don’t understand how to use computers despite being provided with them.

You will work side by side with paid nursing staff to attend to medical issues while exercising caution, including dealing with children who are HIV positive. The stories are heartbreaking, but your job in this project ensures that these stories have more positive chapters attached to them. Mental stimulation is key to survival for kids here, so playing games, reading books and singing to them are important methods to help them learn about themselves and their surroundings.

Donations and gifts from volunteers are also encouraged to help boost the project and recipients of your care. Also, fundraising ideas are most certainly welcomed, while you will be handed tasks of sorting and selling second-hand clothing donations to help raise money. And you’ll get to show off your writing skills by thanking sponsors for their donations. Having had many reasons to frown in their short lives, your time helping Cape Town Children’s Hospital’s amicable staff take care of these children will help turn that frown upside down. Even for a short time. You are their guiding light, and through your assistance, they will shine through.


Working with Khaya Volunteers, you gain an appreciation for people, understanding who they are and how they react when facing adversity. Many children at Cape Town Children’s Hospital face adversity daily, sometimes life-threatening. They need a reason to believe they will overcome and live normal lives as we do. Volunteering with this project gives you a precious opportunity to offer them something to hang on to. Whether it’s from something you’ve helped teach them, playing with them or just sharing a smile with them, these children will know you cared, and that will motivate them to keep fighting. You will not only acquire a host of skills to become a better professional; you will gain a greater sense of humanity and compassion in a place where it’s needed. A worthwhile experience you should be a part of!

Field conditions

Volunteers are expected to work weekdays, from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm, unless subject to change due to whichever tasks you are assigned. You are off on weekends, so feel free to enjoy all Cape Town has to offer. Parks, museums, you name it. Africa’s rainbow nation has lots of color and beauty to take in, so paint the town red while you can!

To be a volunteer at Cape Town Hospital, you must be 18 years and older, comfortable around children and able communicate to them as warmly as possible and be able to calm distressed toddlers and babies. Be ready to help kids with their homework and offer counselling should they need it, show creativity with after school activities, as well as play and sing with them. To understand a child, you must think like one. Let your parental instincts kick in. While working at Cape Town Children’s Hospital, you will take on various assignments. These include:

Babies and children’s ward:

--Teaching and encouraging development through play.

--Working with children at the development stage he or she is at, helping them to advance to the proper stage where they should be.

--Collecting toys across the ward and sterilizing toys daily. When your day ends, each child should have one toy, and one numbered soft toy in their cot to play with.

--Assist with feeding while showing nurses how much each child ate when finished.

Nursery school:

--Helping the teacher and their assistant with teaching activities.

--Make sure to ask the teacher what is being taught to the children and ask how you can help.

--Assisting with art projects, teaching-sums, letters, time, English, and computer skills.

--Assisting with keeping each room tidy and organized.

--Set up puzzles and games for children to interact with


--Helping to organize linen room and keep it as tidy as possible.

--Help prepare meals for the children.

--Assisting with keeping storage rooms organized by labeling things and keeping each room tidy. Remember that some children might be HIV positive, but to keep in line with government regulations and laws, there exists a non-disclosure policy. Volunteers must exercise caution when working with children and wounds.

Arrival and orientation

On arrival, you will be welcomed and transferred from the local airport or hostel in Cape Town, then brought to your accommodation. Orientation will take place on your first day as you will be able to tour surrounding areas under staff supervision and learn about your lodging as well as safety measures and much more. Transportation will be provided to and from your project daily.

Your stay


  • HousingVolunteer house

  • Provided mealsBreakfast, dinner

Accommodation description

Volunteers are warmly welcomed and accommodated by a South African host family living in Athlone, a surrounding area close to your project. If you don’t like to share, you won’t have to as volunteers are provided with their own bedrooms as well as a private bathroom and other facilities.

There are shops, ATMs, and other facilities within walking distance of your accommodation. You are guaranteed safety at your volunteer house as it has perimeter walls, burglar bars, and a watchdog. Your host family will show you around their community and make you feel like an honorary South African. They will give you home-cooked meals at dinner time, including smoked spare ribs. You will self-serve at breakfast and can make your own lunch. Make sure to mention any special dietary requirements in advance, as well as any allergies you may have. Should your meal needs be too complicated to match other volunteer needs, you will need to supply yourself with groceries.


Volunteers will be staying with a host family.


from $320 USDper week

from $320 USDper week


What’s included

  • Guidance & supervision

  • Breakfast/packed lunch & dinner

  • Accommodation in private bedroom with host family

  • Transport to & from projects from accommodation

  • Airport pick up

  • Certificate & report (should this be required for school or otherwise)

What’s not included

  • Toiletries

  • Snacks & soft drinks

  • Weekend excursions

  • Tours/outings

  • Laundry

  • Personal luxuries

  • Insurances

  • Airfare

Start dates

Monday on a weekly basis for a minimum stay of 4 weeks, except for the Christmas and New Years holidays. Volunteer work begins on Tuesday.

Established in 2005, Khaya Volunteer Projects offers unique and affordable volunteer and gap year projects in South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zanzibar. Khaya projects run the gamut of volunteer interests with project areas including Children; Communities; Sports Development; Healthcare; Wildlife and Conservation; and Education projects. A common thread running through all Khaya projects is a commitment to ethical volunteering. They work to ensure that your volunteering efforts and your financial contributions are used in the best way possible. In alignment with that goal, Khaya, with its base and several offices in Africa, can and does assist its local partners and projects in Southern and Eastern Africa with keeping the focus on responsible and ethical volunteering.

Their mission is simple but resonant:

“...we provide volunteering opportunities for international travellers that are both unique and as affordable as possible with high standards of service and facilities. Needless to say, we also prioritise our selected volunteer projects’ needs in ways that benefit both project and you, the volunteer.”

Honest pricing, crystal clear information, timely communication, and great service are all hallmarks of how they run a successful organization. True to the meaning of “Khaya” in several African languages, Khaya Volunteers makes sure its volunteers feel secure, well informed, and that they belong to the project to which they commit. Khaya believes that if you join on of their volunteering projects, you’ll have an African experience you’ll never forget.

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