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The Street Kids Project in South Africa



Work at a Youth Development Center in a township on the outskirts of the beach resort of Knysna, helping out with anything from basic schooling, such as reading or writing, to community projects, job skills and life skills lessons.

Your work will combine many aspects that all help to provide a caring environment where guidance and assessment is offered to children living on the streets and children at risk.

The purpose is to get the youngssters ready to be taken back into the mainstream schooling and domestic home life again again and to give them the skills that will enable them to become a fully functioning employable member of society if they have been away from schooling for too many years. A very worthwile project.


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Start Dates All year round - you choose your start and finish dates. This project is not available between 15th December and 15th January.
Duration From 1 week to 12 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements
Requirements No qualifications or experience required, just lots of enthusiasm and a love of children.
Price Full Price List
What's included Arranging your program,
Full pre-departure support and assistance,
Payment Protection insurance

Meeting you at the nearest airport
Transfer to your accommodation
Transport to and from your project
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support.
Certificate of Completion
What's not included Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required), Return transfer to airport.
Who can do this Project? This project is open to all nationalities and all ages over 16.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in caring for children or teenagers, teaching or working with children overseas while doing voluntary work, projects abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement or short break in South Africa, or for those interested in TEFL teaching.


No qualifications are required for this project, but if you do have some skills in the following areas, they would also be very welcome!

Anybody with knowledge or talent with teaching the marimba classes, sewing, baking, computers, welding, pottery and any other trade skills are very welcome and your knowledge can be utilised in attempting to empower the youth.

If you have a background in counselling, social work and psychology, you could help run the adolescent development program with the community worker which takes places at the Center. This program runs during the day as an after-school program at a local high school. They have also recently launched YESA, which is an after-school program for all the children in the local community at a nearby Civic Center.

If you have any background in marketing, fundraising and event management, your skills in these areas could be a great help as the center is an NPO that relies on donors and fundraising to run day-to-day and meet running costs.


  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Africa and the many diverse cultures in South Africa

  • The enormous satisfaction of helping disadvantaged children and knowing that you made a difference to them.

  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.

  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.

  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!

The Street Kids Project in South Africa


You'll work closely with the children at the Center helping out in any area you might be needed. The school term programs are run with a more educational aspect, focusing on life and job skills. The whole purpose of the various programs run by the Center is to get them ready to be taken back into the mainstream schooling and domestic home life again, if it is at all possible. Some of the youth though have been out of school for so long that the chances of them finishing their school education are very bleak. It is for this reason to that it is important for them to still keep up numeracy and literacy classes.

The programmes are all presented in a fun, experimental manner with an outcome based learning environment. There are also arts and crafts programmes, computer classes, sewing and baking as part of the weekly schedule, as well as sport coaching in soccer.

THE ADP program:

If yes, you’ll be very interested in the Adolescent Development program (ADP) which the organisation is currently focusing on. .  The ADP programs tackle subjects like self image, anger management, peer group pressure, substance abuse and other similar topics. If you have any specialised skills, you may also be able to assist with training staff who lack training in your specialist area. For example, a current volunteer is a qualified Psychiatric Nurse who specialises in the early detection of mental disorders and he is assisting in training the staff in this area. And you may be able to contribute new ideas and ways to develop the ADP Program. Contributions like this are of enormous benefit to the organisation and the community!

In the school vacations the Center caters for local children from the immediate community and run a vacation program. The vacation program is more fun based and can take the form of talent shows, art lessons, sports days and movie days. During the school vacations the Center does not focus on numeracy and literacy as they let the permanent youth that attend the Center also have a vacation from school work.

The Center is fairly laid back, because the youngsters are there out of choice. They are quite a lively bunch but love interaction with our volunteers and it is very easy for volunteers to develop a strong connection with the youth. The center has a very warm, friendly feel with the fulltime staff immediately making you feel like part of the family.

The best way to describe this project is to let one of our previous volunteers tell you about it in her own words. Joanne Pogorelsky volunteered at this Center in Knysna, and this is how she describes a typical day on her project (but please note that this is one volunteer’s experience and your experience may vary according to current circumstances:

The day for me started with a 7:10 pickup and drive in the Travellers bus to Percy Mdala where I waited for the Center to open. I walked over the Center at about 8am. I used this time to get updated from staff on anything that may have happened after I had left the day before or prepare and plan an appropriate activity for the day or week.

The kids would arrive by foot or be collected in the Center van by the driver. Theoretically the day has a plan and overall structure bu,t in true African style, this was flexible and at times overlooked.

In theory the day would look something like: Arrive, wash/shower, devotion, eat, activity (skills based), free time, activity, eat, free time, sport or cooking/cleaning. The activities included beadwork, card making, adult education classes around numeracy and literacy, sports, gardening, cooking, religious teachings etc.

My favourite time was devotion where seemingly unruly, non-cooperative difficult to engage children became respectful, took their hats or head coverings off (which usually would never happen), closed their eyes and pronounced every word in Xhosa, Afrikaans or English. Often they would sing, naturally harmonize, dance and or play the drums during this time and you could feel the energy of these children as if it were tangible. My fondest memories are of the pure devotion sessions where the children appeared to lose there attitude and bravado and enjoy themselves.

I would leave at 2:00, being picked up by the bus again, but the Center went on for another couple of hours. Then of course, its home to bed, it’s an early start in the morning if you want to get in the shower before school…....

I saw my role as to assist, educate and empower the staff to care for the children and thus empower the young people to want to improve their situation and future, and it was extremely satisfying to be an integral part of this.”


The daily schedule can change depending on the needs of the Centrer. During the school vacations a more fun-filled program is put in place with activities that the children from the local community can join in with as well. Here is a sample of a possible daily schedule:


You may also have the opportunity to provide help and support to the local community through the various afternoon activities we have to offer. This is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the African culture, but most importantly to give a caring hand to the local community. The activities could range from helping out at;

  • The Children's Home:Make the afternoons fun and exciting for these lovely children by playing games, helping them with homework and just being there to give them the attention that they so appreciate.
  • After-school drama or sports - Take some time out after school to set up after school sports or drama clubs, the children love it and it's a great way to get to know them better in a relaxed and fun environment. If you'd like to set up a drama or sports club, please let us know when you apply so that we can arrange it with the school before you arrive.)
  • Other community projects  - Past volunteers have helped to paint the outside of a crèche that was in desperate need of a lift. The crèche is now looking very cheerful with brightly coloured walls. A jungle gym was donated to this orphanage and volunteers also helped to put it together for the crèche too! There may be other similar projects available at the time you're there that you might want to participate in.
  • Township soup kitchen: On days that your school roster might allow you to finish a little early, our volunteers sometimes help at a local township soup kitchen. The soup kitchen is open on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The project may possibly be extended to involve local unemployed people, or street kids, or even elderly people or children's orphanages. These are just a few ideas and it may be that some volunteers will have more ideas that will help to make this project a worthwhile one that will benefit the community for a long time to come.

The Street Kids Project in South Africa

Clare Taylor on her volunteering project in South Africa
Volunteer Clare Taylor with some of her kids

The Street Kids Project in South Africa

The Street Kids Project in South Africa

Dance Class!

The volunteer house in Knysna is within walking distance of the town, yet set against a natural green belt. The bird life is prolific and often the local Vervet monkey troop comes to visit to entertain the volunteers with their antics. The sunset views from the top balcony of the volunteer house of the Knysna lagoon are beautiful and great way to relax after a day working at your placement or to catch up on your tan in the summer. See photo on right-hand side.

The house is large and spacious and also has a self-contained flat  downstairs for couples and families. y volunteer placements. The bedding in the two same sex dorms and the towels in their ensuite bathrooms are changed regularly every Friday by our much loved cleaner, Pretty, and there is plenty of cupboard space to store your clothing.

Facilities include a kitchen kitted out for cooking, dining area, a few bathrooms, TV, DVD player, free Wi-Fi, garden and several wooden verandahs.

There is an outside courtyard and garden in the secure grounds where you can have a typical South African barbeque known there as a ‘braai’. Make sure you try the local spicy sausage known as ‘boerewors’ and the Karoo lamb chops are to die for on a ‘braai’, but if fish is more to your taste then a fish ‘braai’ with South African ‘snoek’ is a must.


You'll be given a food budget which will cover your basic essentials (but not extras like alcohol, snacks and eating out). The kitchen has all the cooking amenities that you might need to take advantage of preparing meals with some of the great seafood, meat, fresh fruit and vegetables South Africa has to offer.

There are supermarkets and local shops where you'll do your food shopping.

There are plenty of excellent restaurants within walking distance that offer the most incredible local and international cuisine which our volunteers rave about. Knysna is also famous for its oysters and even has an annual Oyster Festival where everyone eats and drinks far too much!

The waterfront and marine is beautiful and full of restaurants and cafes with cuisine that ranges from breakfast, coffees, cakes and snacks, through to sumptuous meals and various different nationality menus.


Volunteer house in Knysna

View from the house overlooking the lagoon

Got any questions? Please email us: info@travelersworldwide.org

The Xhosa name of the Center means “We have hope”. This project was set up to provide hope and help to troubled young people and their families, through building caring relationships and providing development opportunities. The Center is run as a day & drop-in center.

The Center has recently grown tremendously to include a skill Center for the youth that attend the Center and also for the people from the local community. They have also opened an after school satellite center to try and reach an even greater amount of children that may still be attending school and run programs in life skills like anger management, peer group pressure, substance abuse and self image to educate and uplift the youth.

The daily youth that attend the drop off center are collected at and returned to designated pick-up and drop-off points Monday to Friday by the staff that runs the Center. They are fed two meals and many different programs are run for them from yoga, literacy, numeracy, card making, sport and various life skills throughout the day The Center is overseen by a local Auxiliary Social Worker whose has a background working in child care centres.

The Center mainly targets young people under the age of 18 years old that are at risk with particular emphasis on the needs of the individual. Through permanent and volunteer staff who seek to develop caring relationships, the Center strives towards creating physical fitness, social competence, mental stability and spiritual maturity in young lives. Now that the skills Center is open, the attendees are also able to be taught various skills like welding, pottery, sewing, baking, computer lessons and even marimba classes with the hope that this will assist them with future employment.

Anybody who would like to assist with the skills Center as well is more than welcome and any new skills and trades that can be implemented would be a huge bonus to the center.

The ‘balanced life’ concept that is aimed at the Center not only develops qualities of leadership, morality and citizenship, but also enables young people to effectively communicate in word and action. At the Center, the basic needs of the children are met. They get to wash themselves and get fed twice daily. The children participate in a variety of activities to give each child the opportunity to develop his/her own individual talents. These activities motivate the children to feel more positive about themselves and to be a constructive part of their community.

The daily program could incorporate anything from arts and crafts, cleaning the Center, sewing, baking, programs from outside organisations and time to test their computer skills. Fridays are always relaxed and in good weather outings are often organised often to the beach. In bad weather Fridays are movie days. Often the youth get to paryticipate in a fun game of soccer and the Center has had youth from selected for the South Africa team for the Homeless World Cup in the past which was a great achievement.

"I took some paints in just to see how the children would react. They really enjoyed the activity with me but soon went back to wondering around the activity room and playing together or climbing on the bench. This proved to me that these children are happy with what they have and don’t need new toys or anything to make them happy, they are already happy and are occupied with the resources they have - and they can entertain themselves in different ways."
Zoey Marshall

Monday through Thursday, mid afternoon, I did a dance program for both the kids at the Center, as well as the children of the township. I was overwhelmed by the participation and enthusiasm I received from the kids.

They responded profoundly to the music and, although I had my reservations, they caught on quickly to what I was offering them. It was immediately apparent that most of these children had never been to an organized "Dance Class" therefore it was inevitably a process of adaptation and flexibility on both our parts. The cultural and style diversity of our movement made it a learning experience for all of us! So many of the boys at the Center were naturally blessed with good rhythm and a passion for music that it wasn't hard to see what our common bond would be. I was more than thrilled to make and hand out over 30 mixed CDs in hopes they could enjoy it long after I left.

I can't express the way it made me feel to walk through the township hearing the kids call my name and see them doing a dance I had taught them.” Gina Bishop who taught dance at the Center.

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular program (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind.    Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity! 


Slideshow of the Dance Workshop at the Center put together by Travellers volunteer Gina Rizzo Bishop during her volunteering placement in South Africa

On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country: When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of our South African staff who will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information, like how to use the transport system, banks, safety issues, tipping, and lots more.

"The area is beautiful and travelling is easy. The house we stay in is lovely and the Travellers workers are such kind, loving people which really makes it feel like a home away from home. What with all the other volunteers and the Travellers staff, it really does feel like our own little family ... well, our own very big family, I suppose!!" Luke Brennan


Feedback on Care Projects in South Africa

Volunteer Ayesha with some of the Youths from the Center

Click here to read a Case Study by Ayesha Akre who combined the Street Kids Project and two other Projects in Africa with Travellers!

Read a Case Study by Travellers Volunteer Gina Bishop about the Street Kids Project and her letter of thanks to the Head of the Project and the children

Photo Galleries
Knysna Diary
Wildlife Rehabilitation Diary
Wildlife Expedition News!


While on your placements, you can also book some Optional Add-Ons to make the most of your Travel Experience. The most popular choices are the safari trips from Cape Town and many volunteers use these as their means of travel to arrive at their project in Knysna.

Wildlife Safaris & Adventure Tour Combos
4-Day Surf Safari and Wildlife Adventure
1-Day Adventure Activities in Cape Town
1-Week Wildlife Rehabilitation

1-Week Whales Sharks Dolphins
Cage Dive with Sharks

This project can also be combined with any of our other projects in South Africa, or you could even do a second project in a different region of the country, thus doubling your adventure and enjoyment!

Volunteering in South Africa, and having fun!


The best advice you'll get from us is to try to see some of the country while you're in South Africa. It's big (huge!) and each different region is exciting and very, very beautiful. Cape Town is probably the most beautiful city in the world (I can say that, I grew up there :-)  KwaZulu-Natal comes a very close second, albeit very different. Knysna is where South Africans go on vacation, which gives you some idea of how lovely the region is. When you lie on the beach and watch dolphins jumping the waves, you'll think you're in Paradise.

is approximately 500km from the beautiful capital city of Cape Town  and voted South Africa’s favourite town 4 years in a row! Its mountainous backdrop, impressively sized estuary and indigenous forests really give the town a natural feel to it. Although it still has that ‘small-town’ feel, Knysna is growing rapidly, and has all the amenities you could ask for such as banks, hotels, internet café’s, cinemas and shopping malls.

About 20-30 minutes' drive away from Knysna you'll find Plettenberg Bay (better known simply as Plett), which is a bit smaller than Knysna, but equally stunning.  Its' pure white beaches stretch as far as the eye can see and there is a lot to do, from whale and dolphin watching, to hiking trails and awesome nightlife.

The Garden Route is famous for all sorts of activities from adrenalin sports such as bungee jumping, skydiving and shark cage diving to more relaxed pursuits such as hiking, quad biking in the forest or visiting one of the many animal sanctuaries in the area. Your local Travellers liaison will be happy to assist you in finding interesting things to do and places to see so make the most of it!

Knysna nestles on the banks of a beautiful lagoon in the heart of the ‘Garden Route’ of South Africa. It is surrounded by a natural paradise of lush indigenous forests, tranquil lakes and golden beaches, making it a real natural wonderland.

Knysna is a vibrant town, buzzing with creativity and energy, and the pulse of good music. It's a place where the you can enjoy the mellow atmosphere of street cafes, watching the world go by. The main street is very leafy with trees along the pavements and it has a wonderful vacation atmosphere with sun umbrellas everywhere.

Most cafes have outdoors seating areas overlooking the street or on the pavements, with colourful sun umbrellas - a perfect place to sit with the sun on your face, watching passers-by ambling along, sipping a steamy cappucino or staving off the heat with a cold drink.

Read more about Knysna and its attractions

To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country, please click here.

Support & Backup: To read about the excellent Support & Backup we provide before you leave and during your program, please click here.

Teach and Care for Children with Autism in Cape Town in South Africa (Ver)
Work in a Center and Hostel for children with Autism, as a classroom and hostel assistant. You may help where children need special attention, or to work with a small group while the teacher works with another group. School work varies with different age groups, but is based on the normal school activities – a great deal of one-to-one attention is needed and children learn basic skills.
Care for Children in a Creche in South Africa Care for Children in a Creche in Knysna, South Africa (TWS512)
Help prepare the children for primary school. Many come from underprivileged homes and therefore any help they can get from volunteers is greatly appreciated. You'll use fun activities and educational programmes to greatly benefit their social and mental development. You'll have a lot of freedom to set up your own day's activities, if you would like to, and also to paint murals to brighten up the class rooms.