Gain valuable experience assisting in a hospital in South Africa, where you will be able to work with and observe some great local medical professionals. This will allow you to gain greater appreciation and understanding of some of the challenges that South Africa faces.
Our medical volunteers are placed in a range of health care centres and clinics located in Cape Town, including Green Point Community Health Clinic, which provide facilities for poorer people who cannot afford private medical care.
This unique experience is the perfect project if you are embarking on a career in medicine, and will offer you a wide range of out-patient healthcare activities, suitable for medical students and medical practitioners. Not only will this experience provide insights into new techniques where you can learn from the local staff, but it will help to boost your C.V. and clearly distinguish you amongst your peers, giving you an invaluable edge for your future career.
South African healthcare clinics are currently often heavily under resourced, under-funded and struggle to have a good number of doctors and nurses available in comparison to the number of patients seeking help. Alongside this a large number of clinics and centres struggle with ageing and deteriorating infrastructure.
In these poorer areas, the healthcare is provided free-of-charge, but this often means that there is more demand than available supply. It also means that there is commonly overcrowding and extremely long waiting times for the medical care. Shortages of medications is also common, with an inability to always treat everyone who attends these very busy environments.
So as a volunteer, your help is invaluable! You will play a huge role in cutting down the waiting time of patients, offering an additional pair of hands as you work as a Medical Assistant. This increase in turn-around times makes a massive difference and is therefore appreciated by both the patients and the other staff at the clinic.
Typical tasks will include checking vitals, physical examinations, clerical duties, patient observations and testing/laboratory duties.
Biologically and culturally diverse, South Africa’s combination of modern and ancient landscape is simply breathtaking. Cape Town is a beautiful city rich in history and alive with colour, sounds and tastes. Popular tourist sites like Table Mountain National Park, City Bowl, Two Oceans Aquarium and Chapman’s Peak Drive are all here for you to explore in your own time. This beautiful city is the second largest in South Africa, and with its quaint streets, mosques and simply stunning views, there is much to see and do.
Get ready for some unforgettable memories, truly rewarding moments and amazing experiences in this beautiful area.
You will spend your days in your allocated clinic or centre caring for those in the local community. You will be typically volunteering from 8:00am to 3.00pm Monday to Friday. During the week you may do the following:
Assessments and care duties
You will help daily assisting in general patient check-ups, including checking blood pressure, breathing rates, pulse and temperature. This will also include physical examinations of the height and weight of patients and building the medical history by obtaining important information on past medical history, medications and allergies.
During your working day you will also collect samples (urine, blood etc) for laboratory testing.
To ensure the swift treatment of patients, part of your duties will include readying them for testing, treatment or procedures to be carried out by the doctor. This can include activities such as removing bandages or cleaning a wound.
Updating the patient files and charts is really helpful for the busy nurses and doctors. You may also help with the scheduling of future appointments, manage cancellations and assist in clinic administration as part of your volunteering role.
During your time here you will be able to observe the way in which this healthcare system works in South Africa, which can be a real eye-opener and help to build upon the knowledge that you already have as a medical professional or trainee. This may mean also participating in home visits in rural areas to help with vaccinations or care for immobilised patients, alongside working within the clinic itself. You may also assist midwives out on their visits.
Weekends are free days where we actively encourage you to go and explore this beautiful country. We can help arrange all kinds of trips to national parks, to sandy beaches where you can party or to famous religious landmarks.
During your time with us in South Africa, you will be staying in the volunteer house located in Sea Point. This lively spot in Cape Town is within one of the more affluent suburbs, with plenty of bars, restaurants and local amenities just a short walk away. You can also spend your time relaxing on the famous white sandy beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay all with an amazing backdrop of Table Mountain.
With Long Street, Cape Town’s premier nightlife destination and the V&A Waterfront shopping complex both only 10 minutes away by public transport you are truly spoilt for choice in your free time!
The accommodation offers a friendly and lively atmosphere and although basic, it is comfortable and clean. You will be staying with other volunteers from around the world, so you can be sure to make new lasting friendships.
You will be sleeping in mixed gender rooms with up to 8 people per room in bunk beds. There are shared bathrooms that have western style toilets and hot showers.
The communal area has comfortable sofas, a TV and DVD player. There is WiFi available for a small fee, and lockers where you can store your valuables (please bring along a padlock).
During our busiest months, you may be placed at alternative accommodation such as a another volunteer house or a guest house close by.
Wifi – Yes (small fee)
People per room – Up to 8
Single sex rooms – Yes
Nearest ATM & shops – 5 minute walk
Airport Transfers – 30 minutes
Breakfast and dinner are provided within the programme fee and are aimed to be as varied as possible across the week. You will be responsible for purchasing and making your own lunch during the week and all meals during the weekend.
You can expect some of the following meals:
Breakfast – Self service cereals, yoghurts, toast, fresh fruits, coffee or tea
Dinner – Set meal at a local restaurant between 6pm-7pm featuring chicken or beef with beans, pasta, vegetables or rice. Alternative nights might include Braai or volunteers preparing a meal together.
With notice we are able to cater for vegetarians, but any other dietary requirements such as vegan/gluten free/halal, participants will have to supplement or cater for their own meals. Cape Town has a large Muslim community so Halal foods are easily obtainable.
When are the programme start dates?
The easiest way to view all available start dates is to click the Apply Now button and then view the dates within the drop down box.
What are the requirements to join?
We welcome all volunteers from any background, religion and nationality, as long as you have no criminal convictions and are able to supply a clean criminal background check. In order to join the programme you need to be at least 18 years old on the programme start date.
Individuals need to have a good level / understanding of English but it dose not need to be your first language. As some programmes can be quite strenuous, we recommend that you should be physically fit.
What date should I arrive and leave?
You should arrive to Cape Town Airport (CPT) on your selected start date. You will be met by one of our local team members who will be holding a named sign and will then transport you to the project site.
On the last day of your programme you will need to arrange transport back to Cape Town Airport with our local team. The fee is not included within the programme costs.
Are there any age restrictions?
The only age restriction in place is that you have to be at least 18 years old before your programme start date. Anyone over this age is welcome. Generally the average age range for our programmes is 18 – 25, although this is by no means definitive.
When should I apply for the programme?
You can apply for this programme at anytime, however we advise all volunteers to apply as soon as possible to have the best chances of securing your placement on your selected dates.
Generally speaking, you need to book at least 60 days before your programme start date, although if you are wanting to apply after this, please contact us and we will do our best.
What duration would you recommend?
On gaining feedback, we believe 2 – 4 weeks is the ideal time to get settled in and really involved in the placement. This also allows you to make the most of free time and explore the local areas and participate in any activities.
Can I volunteer if I live outside of the UK?
Yes of course. We welcome volunteers from around the world, no matter how far away from the programmes you are.
The majority of volunteers that we host, come from the UK, US, Canada and Australia.
Can I go with my friend / partner?
You can travel and volunteer with friends, family and / or your partner.
If you are wanting to request to stay in the same accommodation please outline this in the special requirements section within the application form.
Is it safe to travel to these destinations?
We regularly visit and participate in each and every one of the programmes we offer to rigorously check all aspects of the project and accommodation are safe and that all procedures are being followed. These include but are not limited to checking the living conditions within the volunteer accommodations, checking the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, tasting the food you’ll be eating and going on any weekend trips recommended by us or our local team.
We monitor the stability of all of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis and have constant contact with our overseas teams to ensure that our volunteers are safe.
All volunteers will receive a comprehensive volunteer handbook when you choose to join us on one of our programmes. This detailed document addresses a large range of issues such as health, safety, visas, as well as going into details about local cultures and traditions.
When you arrive in-country, you will be given a safety briefing during your orientation that will cover things like emergency procedures, how to use local transport and any cultural differences.
Our in-country team are on hand to help with any issues or to answer any questions and please do not forget that our UK office is available 24/7 in case of any rare emergencies.
While we can never guarantee your volunteer experience will be 100% trouble free, we have taken all of the necessary precautions to minimise all risks and to ensure the programme is as safe as possible.
Before You Depart
When do I pay?
To confirm and guarantee your placement on one of our programmes, you need to pay the registration fee of £129 within 7 days of receiving confirmation that your application was successful. The remaining balance is then due to less than 60 days prior to your programme start date.
Payments can be done all at once or be spread out over several months and can be paid via BACS (bank transfer). We do accept additional payments methods, such as debit and credit cards, although there may be additional fees.
Do I need any vaccinations and / or malaria tablets?
As we are not trained medical experts we cannot tell you exactly what vaccinations or other medication you may need for your trip. You will need to consult with your local doctors or travel clinic.
You can also find additional information on the NHS Fit For Travel website.
How do I arrange my flights?
All flights need to be booked by you, although we can point you in the right direction on where you may be able to find the best prices.
Before booking any flights, we strongly recommend that you wait to have confirmation that your application was successful.
How do I arrange my travel insurance?
We have teamed up with Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive travel insurance policy that is suitable for all of the programmes we offer. You will receive information about this policy along with your volunteer handbook.
If you decide to purchase your travel insurance from an alternative provider, please ensure it covers you for everything you will be doing. Adequate travel insurance must be in place no less than 60 days before your programme start date. Without proof of this insurance, we will not be able to accept you onto the programme.
When will I receive my volunteer handbook?
You will receive a welcome email from us as soon as you have paid the registration fee and your placement has been confirmed. The welcome email will include the volunteer handbook that provides a wealth of information that will help you better understand all aspects of your upcoming trip as well as details about our insurance policy.
Please note, that all material is sent via email and hard copies cannot be sent.
On Your Trip
Can I arrange a private room?
The majority of our accommodation only offers shared rooms that are usually same-sex. However, if you would prefer a private room please let us know and we will at least try for you.
Can you cater for my dietary requirements?
We will try are best to cater for any dietary requirements. When you submit your application please include any required details within the dietary section and we will liaise with our local coordinators.
Are there any public holidays that would effect the project?
Although we try to be as clear as possible of all holidays that effect project availability, due to the nature of some countries, holidays can often be sporadic or prone to change.
If such a holiday falls when you are on your placement, this is generally a good time to experience unique festivities where you can join in with the locals.
What is the dress code at the projects?
We ask that all volunteers take the approach of a smart and responsible image during your time in the communities and on projects. It is best to also take some older clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Generally, it is best to avoid tight and very short clothing and anything that may have offensive slogans on it. Its recommended that you take some nicer clothes for weekends or any free time you may have.
We do not wish to impose strict regulations, however we do ask that you respect the local culture and do your best to adhere to the clothing guidelines within the volunteer handbook.
How much spending money will I need?
For general expenses and some travelling, you should find that £50 – £100 per week is sufficient. However, this can vary greatly depending on the amount of activities or trips you do and if you are eating out during the week..
Will I be able to travel whilst on the programme?
There should be plenty of time to travel while on your placement and we actively encourage that you do! The local coordinators will be able to give you lots of travel tips and provide any help needed for your independent adventure.
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