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WORTHWHILE VOLUNTEERING ABROAD
Organising Voluntary Projects Overseas since 1994.

SUMMARY OVERVIEW

Teach disadvantaged children in township schools in the beautiful coastal resort town of Knysna. You can choose to work with primary or secondary schools.

Generally you'll teach conversational English but you can teach a variety of other academic subjects, Sports, Drama, Arts and Music. The choice is yours. You'll begin by assisting the teacher but, depending on your ability and your confidence, you may also take classes on your own. Class sizes can range between 40 to 50 students.

Price:
Please see the Prices Page. Prices for all projects are listed and you can choose which currency you'd like to see them in. Prices exclude flights.
Duration:
From 1 week to 12 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements.
Start Dates:
All year round, during school term times – you choose your start and finish dates.
Requirements:
Minimum age 16, or younger if accompanied by a parent or guardian. No qualifications or experience required, but if you're teaching English, you should be fluent in English.
What's included:
  • Arranging your Programme
  • Payment Protection insurance
  • Full pre-departure support and assistance
  • Personalised online project portal where you'll access all information your programme, health & safety and country advice.
  • Your own dedicated Project Co-ordinator to help you throughout the pre-departure process
  • Accommodation
  • Daily transport to and from your project
  • Full safety, support and back up from our local in-country team.
  • Project orientation & induction on your arrival.
  • 24-hr emergency support.
What's not included: Flights, Travel Insurance, Cost of Visas, Food, Pickup and Return to the airport (but we can arrange this for you).
Who can do this Programme?
All projects are open to all nationalities. Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in teaching, working with children or education, or care.

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PROJECT CONTENT

You'll begin your placement by assisting the teachers but, depending on your ability, you may progress on to being given complete control of a particular class or group. You'll receive a lot of help and support from the teachers and staff at the schools, but you should be prepared to use your own initiative and ask when you need something.

TEACHING ENGLISH & OTHER SUBJECTS:
You'll normally be asked to stand up in front of a class and teach conversational English - you are not expected to be an expert on grammar or literature. The important thing is to help people speak English. You may also be asked to help with other subjects, but this is optional and only if you feel confident.

You'll most likely teach in more than one school. Most of the schools are State schools, both secondary and primary. You'll generally be asked to help out with any age groups. The average class size ranges from 15 to a manageable 40.

Standards in the schools are generally very high, but materials and resources may be scarce. Even with the lack of facilities, the enthusiasm of students and staff more than make up for this. The children have such energy and you'll be welcomed with enthusiasm - it's difficult to stop them smiling!

SCHOOL TERMS IN SOUTH AFRICA:

Please note that this placement is not available during the school holidays, so it’s important to consult the school terms below to plan your placement dates. Your project coordinator will also assist you with your placement planning, as well as suggest alternatives and exciting things to do during the holiday periods.

Dates for the 2018 school terms (semesters) are given below.
Term 1: 17 January – 28 March
Term 2: 10 April – 22 June
Term 3: 17 July – 28 September
Term 4: 9 October – 12 December

Generally the last week before term's end is given to exams and tests. This means that you will find your work load dropping during this week and you will usually find more free time than normal school time. Exams are written by classes from Grade 3 upward three times a year. For the last three weeks of term 2, 3 and 4 it would not be suitable to volunteer in the classes doing exams. The younger children would still welcome volunteers, but individual requests for these dates would have to be discussed first.

Weekends and school holidays are free for you to sight-see and do activities, tours and trips!

REQUIREMENTS: Anyone working with children and/or vulnerable adults is required to complete a Criminal Records Check (CRC) as part of their application process. We'll provide you with the necessary papers and take you through the process.

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ACCOMMODATION

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 onto the verandahs 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.

The house is large and spacious and also has a self-contained flat downstairs for couples and families. 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.

Wi-Fi / Internet: There is FREE Wi-Fi / Internet in the Volunteer House, but you will need your own device.

Facilities include a kitchen kitted out for cooking, dining area, a few bathrooms, TV, DVD player, 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.

FOOD:

Food is not included in this Programme, but 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.

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REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK

Heather Sandilands (Scottish):
"Well, my expectations have certainly been exceeded during my stay here! ... The school is fantastic, the children make the best of what is available to them and the teachers are very friendly and have been so appreciative of what I’ve been able to do for them.

Assisting with English has been great -not an easy language to learn for them as their first additional language. Helping coach sport and PE lessons has been fantastic fun and at times been quite challenging since they have only a small concrete area to play on due to temporary losing their sports field to the building of a new high school next door.

I am very sad to be leaving the school very soon and particularly sad that I will never know how the children will fair and where their lives will take them... all really good I hope!"

Kara Heubi (American):
"Not only are you seeing changes in the children through your teaching but changes in yourself being exposed to a foreign culture. I can't tell you how differently you see the world when you live in another country --- it is something everyone should experience, especially in such a beautiful, friendly country as South Africa!

The best thing about the placement was the kids. You can't get enough of them.

Can you describe a typical day?: We get up around 6:00 and rush to get a shower in and make a sandwich for lunch. Pauline comes to pick us up at 7:10 and we arrive right before school starts.

We usually have a few periods off here and there but otherwise we are busy teaching or grading papers.

After school, we all sit around for a cup of tea on the porch and chat before we head off to the soup kitchen. There the kids great us with the biggest smiles as they all line up with their plates ready for us to serve the food.

We take a taxi back home and watch tv until dinner is ready (around 6). Usually one of us makes it and another cleans up and we rotate throughout the week. Later on, we sit around the table and chat for hours until finally we hop into bed at 11 or 12.

The weekends are a different story as we travel loads, seeing sights during the day and enjoying a good meal and some drinks at a bar at night."

Laura Siddle (British):
"I thought Sharon was fantastic! She really made you feel at home as soon as you got there, and went above and beyond what was required from her role. She really helped me get the most out of my stay in Knysna.

I really did have the most fantastic time out in South Africa. It is without a doubt the best thing I have ever done.

I spent 3 days a week at a Soup Kitchen in one of the local townships, just helping out with dishing up food, cleaning up the bowls etc. and playing with the kids, giving them lots of attention. It was an optional after-school activity which I was really keen on doing as it allowed me to spend time in a different township and different culture - and spend even more time with kids!

I have come home with a completely different attitude. Seeing these things first hand really makes you appreciate the nature of the situation in countries like SA. Everyone knows that poverty is out there in the world, but seeing it is something else. I feel like I have experienced the real South Africa, spending practically all my time with the locals and in the townships.

This was the best experience I have ever had! I feel like I'm becoming more confident and more independent. I really feel like I've been able to experience true South Africa, having lived in Knysna for such a long time, and also spending so much time in the townships. And the best part of the project were the kids without a doubt!"

Laura Siddle (British):
"On a typical day, Sharon would pick us up at around 7.30 to go to school. School started at 8 on Mondays, the first session was assembly, followed by maths, so lessons didn't start until 9.25. All other days lessons started at 8.40 after the maths session. You are given a timetable/schedule which tells you which classes you are working with in which lessons, so I would then go to my first lessons. First break was at 10.10 for 25 minutes, followed by a Reading period throughout the entire school. As I was helping with the English teachers, I spent this time with a class helping them with their English reading.

There are then 2 more periods up until second break which was at 12.30 for 20 minutes. There are 2 final lessons in the afternoon, with the school day finishing at 2.00, which is when Sharon comes to collect you. I was working in English classes, and spent the majority of my time with Grades 4, 5 and 7. In Grades 4 and 5 I helped with reading and writing assessments, and assisting the class teacher wherever possible and wherever needed. In Grade 7, I took some of the classes under guidance of the class teacher - he would take the first class, and then when the next class came in I would take the lesson.

In addition to all of the above, I lent a hand quite a lot with the marking of tests and homework, even exams and exam moderation. So be prepared to help with the administrative side of working in a school too! I also spent 3 days a week in the Soup Kitchen after school, helping with dishing up food and basically playing with the kids and giving them some much deserved attention. I would go after school at about quarter to 3 and stay for just over an hour, dishing up the food, cleaning up the bowls, and then playing with the kids."

David Corbet (British):
"Regarding the experience I'm gaining on the teaching placement alone, I am beginning to develop my skills in the classroom. For example, keeping the children's attention throughout the lesson is becoming a less frantic task as my placement progresses, as is the planning of lessons; this is due to my increasing teaching skills but also because of the close relationship I am building with many of the students.

I am also becoming more aware of how the skills they are gaining at school will eventually determine their futures, inspiring me to make the most of my time in the school.

The best thing on my placement so far is, Number one: the other volunteers, who, over just two weeks, I have bonded with greatly; it was very sad to see the first two, Jack and Tim, leave this weekend. Close second: the school-children and their constant enthusiasm, (despite their rowdiness in certain lessons!) The weekends are definitely up there with the first two, the world's highest bungee jump certainly hitting the top spot in that aspect of my placement.

I would recommend this placement without hesitation."

VOLUNTEERING WITH CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE ADULTS

As well as protecting all our volunteers, Budget Volunteering is committed to all our projects and dedicated to practices which protect children and vulnerable adults from harm.

LOCATION - KNYSNA:

Knysna 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.

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 holiday 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.

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!

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