Join a team of fellow international volunteers and assist with lessening the burden of intergenerational poverty, by working to assist women in township and rural communities to gain access to equal education, health care and income opportunities.
The majority of people living below the poverty line are women. Many girls around the world are still denied a basic education and women continue to dominate the world’s illiterate population.
By supporting women in society and giving them access to equal opportunities such as an education, jobs and health care, everyone benefits. Infant mortality rates go down, more children stay in school, incomes increase and the cycle of poverty can be broken. By volunteering on this programme with GVI, you will join a dedicated team of international volunteers assisting on sustainable and invaluable women’s empowerment initiatives. Although gender equality has come a long way for women from disadvantaged communities in South Africa, there is still quite a lot that needs to be done to ensure women have equal opportunities and skills to participate actively and effectively in South Africa’ economy. In the traditional township and rural culture, gender discrimination stems from patriarchal cultural and religious beliefs. This has spilled over into the workplace, especially in senior management roles, with only 16% held by women.
GVI aims to assist in gender equality through various educational, healthcare and income initiatives. We also aim to facilitate and encourage dialogues between empowered women, helping them to share positive stories of change and increasing the opportunity for them to become more involved in key community issues. After 20 years of democracy in South Africa, women are still struggling to compete with men, especially in the workplace. Women living in township and rural areas are often in the dark about opportunities available to them and have been socialized into taking lesser roles by traditional mind-sets. By ignoring this gender imbalance, women will continue to become less likely to be employed and increasingly vulnerable to social ailments such as poverty. In order to counteract this, GVI has set up numerous initiatives in local communities to help give women and girls a more equal future.
*Please Note: During holiday periods, all participants will join Cape Town’s school holiday program. During the school holiday period, all of GVI’s projects come together to work on at a local library to provide a safe and educational space for children of all ages. Activities here possibly include a wide range, from tutoring, reading and arts & crafts, as well as sports and wellbeing. When possible to do so, the team also runs soup kitchens on the ground in the community.
Give back to the planet by contributing towards ongoing conservation projects with sustainable outcomes aligned to the global sustainable development goals.
Confidently participate in conservation work, knowing we have the highest ethical standards, guided by partners and a qualified Conservation Director.
Travel the world and explore exoctic locations as you venture off the beaten track into unique ecosystems and diverse habitats.
GVI makes travelling alone less stressful, from details being sorted through our pre-departure support to guidance from 24/7 on the ground program support.
Some of the example typical activities you could participate in on this program.
Learn to identify focus species such as lions and elephants and basic data collection techniques.
Track the movement and behavior of cheetahs and lions using radio telemetry techniques.
Collect data on herbivores such as population dynamics, spatial utilisation and herd dynamics.
Collect data on birds and invertebrates to contribute towards citizen science initiatives and databases.
Help rehabilitate land degradation and erosion, remove alien species and assist with reserve maintenance projects.
Get involved in youth development initiatives, teaching basic English and assisting with environmental education.”
Some of the partners we work with on base.
|24-hour emergency desk|
|24-hour in-country support|
|Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)|
|All project equipment|
|Food (except on long-term internship placements|
|Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)|
|Group introductory call|
|Endorsed GVI Specialisation Course|
|Endorsed Leadership Course|
|Sustainable project work|
|Data collection and research|
|Real projects with partners|
|Weekly group check ins|
|Remote Academic Internship Supervisor|
|Remote Career Internship Supervisor|
|Preferential recruitment on GVI positions|
|Job portal access|
|Endorsed Careers Course|
|Career coaching sessions|
Certificates and achievements
|PDF reference - upon request|
|Linkedin reference and skills endorsement|
|Additional drinks and gratuities|
|Extra local excursions|
|International and domestic airport taxes|
|Medical and travel insurance|
|Personal items and toiletries|
|Police or background check|
The GVI Cape Town base is situated in Muizenberg, a colourful beachside town in South Africa’s Western Cape province. Approximately 30 minutes away from the city centre, Muizenburg is in the Cape Peninsula, home to some of South Africa’s most famous beaches. “Surfer’s Corner” is considered one of the best surfing spots in Cape Town – some even view it as the birthplace of surfing in South Africa. With beautiful mountains as a backdrop and the beach on your doorstep, there is little that Muizenberg lacks in terms of world-class scenery and views. There are plenty of local shops, restaurants, bars and cafés to explore and enjoy. This is not a remote location, and other amenities are easily accessible nearby, but being a small beach community it has a laid-back, small-town feel.
A short distance from the beach, the accommodation includes dorm-style rooms, shared bathrooms with hot water, and communal spaces for training, ...
A transfer will be provided from Cape Town International Airport to the base if arranged in advance with GVI. When necessary, transport will be a...
Wi-Fi is available on base for project related work, and to stay in touch with friends and family in your spare time. You can also bring a networ...
You will prepare your own breakfast from the food provided which usually consists of toast, eggs, oats, cereal, fresh fruit, and coffee or tea. D...
Cape Town has a Mediterranean-style climate, with wet and cool winters from June to August, and mostly dry and warm summers from December to Febr...
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
We want you to make the most of the chance to live in – and contribute towards – the most diverse and unique wildernesses and communities on earth. Introducing GVI Experiences – immersive adventure, cultural and wellness activities exclusive to GVI that have been specially designed in collaboration with our local partners to support and stimulate sustainable economic development.
Enhance your impact. Expand your adventure. Explore your world.
Joining a GVI program not only allows you to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems – but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer over weekends.
Field staff are a great source of advice and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. You can choose to travel before or after your experience with GVI (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships you’ve established on the program. Please note that the below options are not included in the program fee, and would be up to you to arrange at your own expense.
Located in the oldest working harbour in the southern hemisphere, the iconic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront has a wide variety of exciting acti...
Known for its world-class and award-winning wines, a visit to the winelands will allow you to experience various tastings, giving you an insight ...
This unique marine rehabilitation centre is informative, tranquil, and a full-on sensory experience. There are various programs and information s...
Set against the slopes of Table Mountain, you’ll find sprawling manicured lawns, a treetop bridge called the “Boomslang”, and over 7,000 species ...
During South Africa’s apartheid era, Robben Island was home to over 3,000 political prisoners, including former President Nelson Mandela, who spe...
A visit to Cape Town is not complete without experiencing Table Mountain. The name comes from its unique flat-topped shape that resembles a table...
Home to an entire colony of African penguins, this beach is partially open to the public, allowing you to observe these majestic birds in their n...
For incredible panoramic views of Cape Town and the Atlantic Seaboard, hike the circular route to the top of Lion’s Head. The hike isn’t to...
Cape Town and its coastal regions offer an array of shark cage diving options – where you’ll possibly spot great white sharks, as well as other s...
On the other side of the Western Cape, the West Coast offers multiple Blue-Flag beaches, exceptional views, and the opportunity to visit ostrich ...
Located about 2 hours from Cape Town, this small seaside town is one of the best whale watching destinations in the world. Whale watching season ...
Following the South African coastline, this scenic route is dotted with various coastal towns, cities, forests, lagoons and much more. Perfect as...
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, 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 will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during 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 topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.
From a fisherman’s meal of fish and chips to a spicy curry with naan, the diversity of South Africa lives in the dishes available in most communi...
South Africans love to celebrate, especially over the December holiday season. Depending on the time of year and the location, you will be able t...
The most dominant religion in South Africa is Christianity. As a land of acceptance and diversity, you will find many people of different faiths,...
The diversity of South Africa is most noted in the cultural practice of the various tribes, clans, and communities – from the Xhosa customs to th...
South Africa has 11 official languages. English is widely spoken and you will always be able to communicate, no matter where you are. Within the ...
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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.
‘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.
GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.
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.’
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.
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.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (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.
Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen 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 classes, as well as practical skills workshops in the local community alongside our local partners.
We also work closely with our primary partner and their network of organisations on capacity building. In doing so, we contribute to these organisations’ long-term viability, which means the sustainable provision of their support and services to the community.
In South Africa, primary school education poses a real challenge to young students who do not come from English speaking households or have had minimal exposure to the English language within their community. Many schools teach exclusively in English (or Afrikaans) resulting in some learners falling behind in their schooling from an early age. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 60% of South African students currently enrolled in grade 1 will not complete grade 12. Our education project aims to improve the students’ chance of completing secondary school and decrease the likelihood of them falling behind or dropping out of school.
We assist in mentoring and tutoring local learners of all ages across a range of subjects, including life skills, general skills development, literacy, numeracy and computer literacy. We provide support to at-risk students in local communities through direct in-classroom learning, working with teachers and students, and indirect lessons at our partner organisation’s facilities within the communities. Another element of our lessons is basic health and well-being, which sometimes includes physical education and sports. Our project also aims to provide our partner organisations with additional knowledge and skills which they can use to address the educational issues faced by the youth in the communities in which we work.
Public Health Project
TB and HIV/AIDS continue to be major public health issues in South Africa, particularly in low-income and under-resourced communities. Lack of contraception and reproductive healthcare are also prevalent issues. As a result, teen pregnancies are common, and the infant mortality rate in South Africa is among the highest in the world (bottom 25% of countries). While there are available public health services, many community members face barriers to accessing them, such as lack of accurate knowledge on these issues and how to prevent or manage them, lack of information around what services and resources are available, how to apply for or access assistance and support programs, and lack of funds to cover transport to and from medical facilities.
Our project is focused on raising awareness and assisting with educating adolescents from age 12 upwards on sexual and reproductive health issues, the risks of STIs and how to protect yourself from contracting them, teen pregnancy, and local health issues such as TB and HIV/AIDS. We aim to equip young community members with an “asset map” so that they are aware of all local resources and how they can access them, regardless of their situation or circumstances.
Gender Equality Project
Gender-based violence has been called South Africa’s “second pandemic”. It is estimated that more than 53% of South African women have experienced gender-based violence. This is a complex issue with many contributing factors. While our gender equality programs do not specifically focus on gender-based violence, our partner organisation has established facilities exclusively for young women, where they can learn, grow and develop in a safe environment.
We work with our partner whose aim is to empower local women through knowledge and confidence building, and giving them access to support services and skills that can assist with removing themselves from unhealthy circumstances. For women on a path towards graduation or looking for employment we provide support by assisting with computer literacy and skills development, maths tutoring, job searches, resumé writing for school graduates, and workshops on gender roles and stereotypes.
Gender equality and public health are often intertwined as public health services may have discriminatory practices or lack of resources that disproportionately affect women – resulting in an overlap between this project and our public health project. We focus on raising awareness on pertinent topics that affect women, including reproductive health issues, STIs and contraception. We equip women with the same type of “asset map” we create for our public health project – giving them access to the support that they need and the confidence to feel comfortable enough to do so.
GVI Cape Town long-term objectives:
1. Improve English language skills of the youth within the community – with the goal of reducing the failure and drop-out rate in primary schools.
2. Raise awareness and educate the youth on public health issues, and improve access to support and resources.
3. Promote gender equality in the community through education and training.
4. Empower local women through knowledge learning and skills training and assist them on their path to graduation or employment. Raise awareness about prevalent health issues and ensure they have access to the relevant support services and resources.
5. Increase in-country capacity by providing our partners with skills development training that will assist them in achieving their 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.
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.
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
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.
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
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.
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
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.
We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos
We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases
When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.
We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.
We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.
We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.
Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.
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.
Learn about COVID-19 pre-departure guidelines, base expectations, personal and area hygiene practices and what we are doing to keep you safe.
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.
Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.
Learn strategies for reflecting on, developing and facilitating educational programs. Learn how to plan engaging, meaningful lessons, and how to manage a classroom.
In this course, you’ll explore the most common pitfalls of community development initiatives so that you can avoid them. You’ll also learn how to carry out community development work effectively and ethically and how local context impacts program development. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.
This online course, valued at £295, is included in all volunteering programs. Full course details can be found here.
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.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
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 ju...
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 heal...
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 ...
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 a...
Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.