SAEP hosts volunteers from all over the world, of many different ages and backgrounds, and with an amazing variety of skills and interests. Volunteering at SAEP is a rewarding experience and a great chance to experience different cultures and ways of life.
Please read the frequently asked questions below, if you have any questions that are not answered there, please contact our volunteer coordinator. Please note that all overseas volunteers must have adequate health insurance before they travel and must inform SAEP of the details of this cover before they arrive.
Mentors are needed to support students in a variety of fields, including but not limited to health, law, business, engineering and education. A mentor’s background and career path do not need to be an exact match for the student’s interests to foster a meaningful relationship
SAEP encourages mentors and mentees to meet at least once a month, and to stay in touch by email and/or phone between meetings as needed.
Mentors offer intellectual encouragement and support, share their own knowledge about their education and work experiences, and provide general advice for success. To further help students succeed, mentors help the student network, and offer meaningful advice relating to job applications, interviews and CV writing. SAEP encourages mentors to help students develop SMART action plans: plans that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
Each mentoring relationship is unique, and develops according to the skills and needs of the mentor and mentee. One mentor-mentee pair has even trained for and completed the Cape Town Cycle Tour together.
A mentor is an individual committed to fostering personal development through a positive, interactive and dynamic relationship with a mentee. Mentors act as a “first port of call” for their mentees for questions related to their academic studies and career paths. They may offer insight into course selection, tackling challenges at university, internships and career options, or general guidance and advice.
SAEP is a truly global community, hosting volunteers from North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. Past volunteers hail from the USA, UK, China, Netherlands, Germany, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, France, Zimbabwe, Canada, Malta, Norway, Belgium, Latvia, Botswana, Switzerland, Namibia… and more!
Staff and volunteers at SAEP dress very informally most of the time. The goal of having a dress code is to ensure that we present a professional image to the schools, pre-schools, community and general public, and to ensure that we do not offend anyone or give off an inappropriate message.
What might be perfectly acceptable in one culture may not be acceptable in another, and because we are working cross-culturally we all need to be sensitive to each other. We have always had a very relaxed atmosphere at SAEP which we would like to keep, within the following guidelines. Certain meetings (e. g. with officials or donors) may require a more formal level of dress. If in doubt, check out what others are wearing in a certain setting (e. g. teachers at a high school), or ask rather than risk causing offence.
- Jeans and T-shirts are acceptable as long as they are clean and neat
- Skirts and shorts must be clean and neat, and come to just above the knee
- No bare midriffs or hips, no underwear (underpants, panties or bras) showing
- Clothes not to be see-through or show too much cleavage
- For those working in the pre-schools, please ensure that you do not wear very smart clothes or light colours which could get messed up by interacting with the children.
The most important requirement is a great attitude! Our volunteers must be open-minded, flexible and have a willingness to really engage with people involved in our projects as well as a desire to learn from every experience they encounter. Much of their experience is dependent on them and what passions, skills and energies they have to share. Our volunteers have ranged in age from recent high school graduates taking a “gap year” (which we have occasionally accepted) to active retired people in their seventies.
Our number of volunteers varies throughout the year; at any given time we may have up to 4 or 5 full-time people and up to 20 part-time (a mix of international and local) volunteers within the various projects and programmes.
To apply for a volunteer or intern position, please send a cover letter stating which programme you would like to work with and why, your CV, and two references with e-mail addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is a good idea to apply as early as possible, as we receive a large number of applications. We will then be in touch to discuss your interests and assess whether volunteering with SAEP would be a good fit. Although face-to-face interviews are not usually possible because of distance, we always require a skype or telephonic interview before accepting a candidate.
SAEP does not provide health insurance or otherwise provide financial assistance in case of medical emergency or other requirements, nor can it accept responsibility if participants are injured or otherwise undergo losses in connection with their participation. Therefore, participants in SAEP programmes must, of necessity, accept personal responsibility for these risks, insure themselves to the extent possible, and assume any financial risks involved, and not look to SAEP for restitution or help with any financial obligations or other costs incurred.
A. Do I need vaccinations?
Immunizations are not required. However, depending on your past travel history and health conditions, you may want to consult with your doctor or local travel clinic to see if they have recommendations. The SAA Netcare Travel Clinic located in Cape Town, recommends getting Hepatitis A & B vaccines if you will be working with children or in schools. Cape Town is in a malaria-free zone, but if you plan to do any traveling during your time here (e.g. visiting the Kruger National Park), you may want to consult with the Netcare Travel Clinic regarding what malaria medication.
A malaria link for UK Volunteers:
B. What should I do about health insurance?
Since SAEP does not provide travel or health insurance, you must provide your own. You should explore options for providers in your home country and if possible obtain insurance before you arrive. Many volunteers use STA Travel insurance for around $700 per year (around $58 per month), including property coverage. See this page.
Past volunteers have also obtained health insurance from Discovery Health around $35 per month.
Please provide SAEP with a proof of your insurance upon arrival
SAEP’s office is open Monday to Friday, from 8am to 5pm with flexible time off for lunch. There are occasionally outings or work projects on Saturdays.
- SAEP will provide transport for volunteers between the main office and project sites in the townships. It is your responsibility, however, to arrive at the SAEP office prior to the scheduled departure time.
- SAEP owns three cars that can be used in providing transport to the project sites. Staff and volunteers who can drive a manual car (on the left hand side of the road) and are willing to help out, do the driving.
- If you are a large group of volunteers coming together, we may ask you to arrange your own transport via a private shuttle service.
- If you have access to your own transport, that is a great advantage, as this will provide you with greater flexibility and freedom to work on projects at various times of day.
SAEP carries out its work in the townships of Cape Town, South Africa. Staff and volunteers of SAEP are involved in the ordinary life in these neighborhoods, and much of the work of the organization is “in the field” rather than in a central office.
SAEP as an organization seeks to be diligent in ensuring that persons who work with SAEP have a good understanding of the risks of working in the neighborhoods of a large city such as Cape Town and the townships in particular, and of the steps they can take to reduce the chance of adverse events happening to them.
We cannot guarantee a volunteer’s safety, since Cape Town and South Africa generally have a high rate of crime, related to a very high rate of poverty and unemployment. One assumes a certain level of risk in working in a developing country like South Africa. These risks and the volunteer’s responsibility for learning about them, and accepting them, are set forth in the Release and Waiver of Liability forms, one for US volunteers and another for all other international volunteers, which must be signed by every volunteer or his parent/guardian.
Mowbray, where SAEP’s offices are located, is a relatively quiet residential suburb near the University of Cape Town, but there is a crime problem (e.g. burglaries, car break-ins, ATM scams, and an occasional mugging (theft of purse/cell phone)) in all residential neighborhoods in Cape Town, including Mowbray. There is an active neighborhood watch program that monitors the situation and provides advisories regarding any incidents.
In South Africa, it is important to always be aware and take precautionary safety measures to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of crime
We have offices at Waverley Court, Mowbray, 7705. The offices are Unit 14B in Waverley court. Press the Unit 14B button on the intercom at the side gate that is on Kotzee Road. Walk through the parking lot and past the end of the building, to the left, you will see steps leading up to a glass door. Press Unit 14B again and we will buzz you in.
Yes – volunteers may work on more than one programme provided they have the time, but they will need to concentrate on one area as a primary focus. There is room for flexibility, since plans change according to the needs of the moment and the relationships projects that develop during the course of the programmes. That said, we do try to have an understanding as to what programme(s) the volunteer will be working on before accepting them into SAEP.
We consider ourselves a “family” NGO with lots of young staff members, from both South Africa and abroad. The atmosphere is informal, but we work very hard.
- There are approximately 30 staff members at SAEP working between 7 different programmes, administration and management, and the Impact centre.
- Office hours are from 8AM-5PM with a 1 hour lunch break in between.
- Our offices are based in an office park in Mowbray close to the main road, public transport, and local shops.
- We have 3 SAEP cars available for programme use.
- Office dress is business casual.
- The schools that we work with are approximately a 20 minute drive from the office in the township of Philippi.
- The communities in which SAEP works are very poor, consisting mainly of families who have come to Cape Town from the rural areas looking for better educational and economic opportunities.
SAEP is a non-profit organisation, which is constantly working to raise funds from individual and institutional donors to keep its programmes going. Hosting volunteers involves certain extra overhead costs such as office space, computer and internet access, transport etc. which we ask short term volunteers to contribute towards (see below). This is especially important for those coming during the North American/ European summer, which is our peak volunteer period and places the greatest strain on our resources — No such contribution is expected from volunteers who come for 3 months or more, though it is always welcome.
Non-student volunteers (less than three months). For non-student volunteers who plan to come for less than three months, we ask for a contribution to SAEP’s expenses of $100 / R 700 / € 75 / £ 65 per week, with a minimum of $250 / R 1750 / € 190 / £ 165 and a maximum $1000 / R 7,000 / € 750 / £650 in total. This can be waived in cases of need, but not where the volunteer comes through a company (for-profit or non-profit) that makes a charge for volunteer placements. As exchange rates vary from time to time these rates may change.
College and university summer interns or volunteers. We urge all those who wish to join us during the May-August period to raise funds or make a donation to SAEP’s work. All such donations are tax deductible in the US and South Africa. Where a student is applying for a college or university grant and the grant budget requires specific expenditures, we can assist in identifying relevant programme expenses to be covered. We can also provide suggestions and help in your fundraising efforts on behalf of SAEP.
You should plan to budget between R3000 to R4000 for a room and a further R1000 per week for living expenses (including food and incidentals), though you might be able to get by on less and can certainly spend more. To account for contingencies, we suggest that you budget at least R7000 per month.
The exchange rate for the rand varies have a look here to see what it currently is.
No, unfortunately not. SAEP is a non-profit organisation and works very hard to raise enough money to run its various programmes. Volunteers are very welcome but are responsible for their travel expenses to Cape Town as well as for all living expenses (lodging, food, transport, entertainment, etc.). SAEP does not provide any stipend or financial support to volunteers except to reimburse them for work-related costs.
Although SAEP does not provide accommodation, we have gathered information about potential lodging opportunities from previous volunteers and students. Sometimes it makes sense to arrange a stay in a backpacker’s lodge or a B&B upon arrival, and then find something for the longer term once you are here and have a sense of where you would like to live.
Most volunteers and interns have had luck finding suitable short term accommodation on Gumtree. Our volunteers tend to stay within walking distance of the office in the suburbs of Observatory, Mowbray, Rosebank, or Rondebosch. Those who prefer to stay in Cape Town CBD take public transportation to and from the office
SAEP seeks volunteers who are able to make a minimum 6 month commitment. We find that the ideal timespan for volunteerism is one year, as this allows the volunteer to make a significant contribution to SAEP’s projects, but we acknowledge that such a commitment is not always possible. Under special circumstances, we will take volunteers for 2-3 month periods.
For Europeans or Americans coming to South Africa for less than three months, you can just come in on a holiday visa. However, for volunteers from other countries or those wishing to stay longer than three months, you will have to either (1) apply for a temporary residence permit, in form of a volunteer visa, or (2) obtain a three-month (maximum) extension of your holiday visa once you are here, for which there will be a charge by the Department of Home Affairs.
Please also check that there aren’t any specific visa requirements for the country of your origin.
To apply for a volunteer visa for South Africa, you can either contact the South African Embassy or your nearest South African consular office in your home country or check the requirements on the South African website of Home Affairs.
Volunteer Visa requirements for UK citizens
Volunteer Visa requirements for US citizens