Social Work Internship

Approximately half of South Africa’s urban population live within townships or informal settlements. In fact, most of South African towns and cities have at least one township associated with them as well as large informal settlements nearby.

Residents of these townships and informal settlements are facing a number of social, as well as health, problems. Most communities have to deal with insufficient sanitation, access to water, electricity and regular waste removal. In addition to that they face a number of social issues such as;

  • High crime rates
  • Unemployment
  • Lack of education
  • High rates of HIV/AIDs
  • Rape and sexual violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Child abuse
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Alcoholism and drug addiction
  • Gang violence
  • Xenophobic attacks
  • Lack of housing


With your internship program, you can be placed at any other preschool or primary school for your position.

An example of such a settlement is:

Wolwerivier is a settlement located approximately 32km from Cape Town centre. The settlement is home to around 3500 people living in 400 housing units. Each housing unit has access to running water, sanitation facilities and electricity as well as regular waste removal. Currently, there is no police station, medical facilities, shopping areas or job opportunities within the settlement. However, there are security guards often patrolling Wolwerivier to maintain a safe environment.


  • Assisting in maintaining the curriculum that is already in place under the direction of the head teacher
  • Supporting the head teacher in the process of developing and sharing classroom activities to meet developmental and academic objectives
  • Use constructive feedback from the head teacher and SAVE to improve classroom environment
  • Developing, maintaining, and implementing a classroom maintenance schedule with the head teacher, including but not limited to items such as cleaning the classroom, repairing materials, and planning events. Also assist in record keeping for the classroom
  • Maintaining a positive attitude and open communication with the head teacher
  • You will be required at projects on a daily basis to supervise and assist volunteers – may be required to transport volunteers to projects 4 – 6 days a week
  • Assisting with collections
  • Ensuring there is appropriate support and training for volunteers
  • Organising rotas and providing inductions and training
  • Monitoring; supporting; motivating and accrediting volunteers and their work
  • Attending committees and meetings
  • Generating income, writing funding bids and fundraising to make projects sustainable
  • Data capturing, maintaining databases and undertaking any other administrative duties to record keep for the
  • Maintaining a positive attitude and open communication with the head
  • You will be required to be at projects on a daily basis to supervise and assist volunteers – you may be required to transport volunteers to projects 4 – 6 days a
  • Assisting with
  • Ensuring there is appropriate support and training for
  • Organising schedules and providing inductions and
  • Monitoring; supporting; motivating and accrediting volunteers for their
  • Attending committees and
  • Generating income, writing funding bids and fundraising to make projects
  • Data capturing, maintaining databases and undertaking any other administrative
  • Arrival day for Orientation: Every Friday
  • Project starts: Every Monday
  • Location: Cape Town
  • Minimum duration: 12 weeks

Example of tasks

Assisting with childhood literacy projects, mentoring students, working as a teacher’s assistant, leading life skills workshops, assisting with sports programs, researching educational policy, and contributing to the overall operations of education programs.

Previous Internships
  • Planning and maintaining several vegetable gardens for families
  • Planning and maintaining a vegetable garden for the preschool
  • Clearing ground, erecting preschool classrooms, fencing and laying down grass for a preschool
  • Building a brick school for disabled children
  • Building a camp for goats who were kept in overcrowded, inhumane conditions
  • The position is a 3 – 12 months contract
  • A diploma in teaching is required (experienced teachers will be given preference)
  • A valid driving license (PDP license would be a bonus)
  • At least 20 years old
  • A person who likes to take an initiative
  • Creative and likes to bring your own ideas about teaching and education in general to the country
  • In possession of good social and communicative skills
  • Well-spoken and articulate in the English language, as well as good English writing skills

Acceptance of internship is subject to availability of position

Example of your Accommodation: You will stay at either an internship house or 3 to 5 star backpackers or hostel once your placement has been secured, we will be able to confirm this. You will share with other interns and/or guests. Dormitory accommodation with 3 – 10 sleepers.

Available facilities are:

  • Electricity
  • Beds, mattresses and linen(no towels)
  • Males and Females may be in shared room unless otherwise requested.
  • You are responsible for keeping your own room tidy.

Notice: The most important things to bring are a sense of humour, patience, an open mind and a positive attitude

Water: Water is safe to drink however scarce in many areas, use water sparingly and have short showers or baths

Electrical power: South African electrical power is 240 volts AC. Appliances from North America will burn out if they are not switched over or have a properly-rated power transformer (not just a plug converter) attached. Think twice about that hair dryer! South Africa is also prone to electricity cuts due to short supply. Please turn off lights and heaters when not in the room. The plug adapter needed for South Africa plugs is very difficult to find in your home country, we suggest you buy the adapter in South Africa.

Health: The sun is an important health factor to consider. You can burn easily, even in winter and on cloudy days, so always use sun block (SPF 30+) and a hat, and drink plenty of water. Moderate to severe sunburns are common among visitors and volunteers, yet they are completely preventable. Please be cautious of the sun, severe sunburn can prevent you from participating to full capacity.

What is the difference between volunteering and regular tourism?

For regular tourists, the emphasis is on the tourist who expects to receive excellent service on their trip (great hotel, good food and all excursions working according to a timetable). The place and local community become less important with the tourist becoming the centre of attention. Volunteer tourism (or “voluntourism”) has the emphasis shifted to work contribution, goals of the program and helping the local community. It is the success of the program and the atmosphere between the community and the volunteers that helps make the trip unforgettable – not the level of service or the quality of the hotel. Many programs are underfunded so inevitably there will be some difficulties; however, it is the overcoming of any challenges which creates a sense of achievement and satisfaction not found in regular tourism

Will there be any surprises?

Volunteer tourism can be unpredictable. While SAVE does the utmost to stick to timetables and examples of the type of work needed by the volunteer, there are many factors that can impact these plans. For example, the weather and seasons, local holidays, mood of the wildlife and immediate needs of the programs. The information you will receive from the program is important and valuable however things can change and we urge you to use it as a guideline and expect the unexpected – this is what makes volunteer tourism so diverse and exciting. It is important that you arrive with a flexible attitude and remember that just by being at the project you will be contributing to its running, growth and success. Many of these programs are in cultures very different than yours and as such the type and length of work given may or may not seem important to you but it will be for the program.

Culture Shock

The volunteers you will be working with come from all over the world and maybe from different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Volunteering is also a cultural experience where you can learn about different cultures, but please be both tolerant and patient. Do not be shy in sharing your experiences, recipes, songs and traditions it will just add to the overall group cohesion. Children may be raised in ways that are very different from what you are used to. If you are ever unsure about certain issues, please feel free to discuss it with your volunteer leader.

Extra expenses

Please take into account additional expenses like tours, trips, telephone, restaurants and bars. It is a good idea to carry different types of payment: Cash, Credit Cards, Debit cards and Traveler’s Cheques are options.

Travel Insurance

It is very important and necessary to purchase and carry travel insurance for any unforeseen eventuality. We would be happy to recommend a reputable insurance company.


All SAVE participants must have medical, travel and trip cancellation insurance for the duration of their program. SAVE must receive proof of insurance no later than 65 days prior to departure.


SAVE has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs. Offenders will be removed from the program immediately without refund.


No smoking is allowed in front of the children or at the schools. Volunteers who smoke can do so away from the school/crèche premises or after projects have been completed.


A responsible level of drinking (for volunteers of legal age) during free time is allowed. However in these limited situations:

  • Alcohol is never to be consumed during the workday.
  • Participants are never to be intoxicated whilst at the project.
  • Participants are never to be under the influence of alcohol during group discussions.
  • No hangovers will be tolerated on the project so please keep drinking to off days


  •  Airport pick up
  • Orientation and welcome BBQ
  • Walking tour
  • Accommodation
  • Transport to and from the projects for the first week
  • 24-hour support and supervisor on the project
  • Donation to the NPO to assist with projects
  • Certificate of appreciation


Please visit our FAQ’S page for a comprehensive list of the most frequently asked questions.

Why intern with us?

  • Gain international work experience
  • Enhance your CV
  • Develop a global understanding of community service
  • Gain social hours and a letter of recommendation
  • Improve your organisational and project management skills by organising poverty prevention and upliptment workshops and projects
  • Work with locals in the settlements
  • Discover the South African culture and social challenges
  • Gain insight into the South African social system
  • Make a difference in the lives of the community members
Phone: 0.215.569.69
Cape Town, South Africa
20 Briza Road, Table View
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