Building Volunteer Projects in South Africa
- Placement location: Lavender Hill township, Cape Town
- Role: Building and constructing a community centre and assisting with on-going community projects in the township
- Accommodation: Host family
- Price: From
- What's included? Food, accommodation, transfers to and from our specified airport, transport to and from work where required, travel and medical insurance, personal webpage, induction and orientation, 24/7 support
- What's not included? Flights, visa costs, spending money
- Length of placement: From 2 weeks
- Start dates: Flexible, however the project is closed from mid-December to mid-January
Whether you are on a gap year, summer placement or career break, if you want to get your hands dirty and see physical results from your placement overseas our Building Project may suit you.
Building volunteers are given the opportunity to construct eco-friendly buildings for the local community in the township of Lavender Hill. Alongside the building work volunteers on this project are also encouraged to get involved in a range of community projects taking place in the township.
Building Work in South Africa with Projects Abroad
Volunteers work under the guidance and supervision of a building manager, assisting with all levels of building and construction. The buildings are made using an eco-bag system. Eco-bags are filled with sand and using this technique it is possible to build better quality houses for less money, whilst also using ecological materials such as recycled rubble and eco timber beams.
The construction techniques are also simple to master and are ideal for sites with limited facilities. No electricity is required at the site and only minimal amounts of water and cement are necessary.
Many of the placements we work with are housed in inadequate accommodation. Currently volunteers are working on building a community centre in Village Heights, Lavender Hill, which will serve as a multi-purpose building with its own toilet and kitchen. Since 2010, volunteers have built a day care centre for children of the community, toilets with their own underground bio-chemical drop sewerage system, an enclosed wash area with fresh running water, a fully enclosed secure play area for the children, a high wall around the building for security, and a concrete patio which will lead to the communal garden. Future proposed projects include a building which will house arts, culture, dance, drama and music facilities and an extension to the communal garden.
The roles in which volunteers are involved will vary but may include digging foundations, mixing cement, placing the eco-bags to build walls, building a roof, plastering and putting the finishing coat of paint on the completed building.
Community Work in South Africa
The building work typically takes place in the mornings. In the afternoons you have the option to get involved in looking after the children present on site or to participate in our nutrition project. This involves looking after our organic garden, researching nutritious recipes that can be prepared with our produce, preparing the food and feeding the children. Our plans also include clearing a nearby site in order to transform it into a sports field and then get the children involved in physical education, as well as educating the township people in organic food growing and basic permaculture techniques.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our South Africa Building Management Plan.
Is Building Experience Needed?
You do not need previous building experience to take part in this project but any relevant skills will be an advantage. All volunteers should, however, be reasonably fit and physically active, and be prepared for working outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. When building is not possible at the site due to adverse weather conditions, alternative activities will be organised such as a visit to an eco-beam factory or viewing some of the diverse architecture used in buildings around Cape Town.
You can join a Building project in South Africa for two or three weeks if you don't have time to join us for four weeks or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for short term volunteering for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain a valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the local community please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone volunteering for a longer period. The project is available all year round in Cape Town, apart from mid-December to mid-January, when the site is closed down.
This placement is fully researched, safety audited and risk assessed in accordance with the British Standard BS8848 for the Adventure Travel Sector.
All volunteers taking part on any other project in South Africa now have the opportunity to add a 1 Week Conservation Add-On to the end of their main placement. Please note that one week volunteers should arrive in Polokwane on a Monday. For more information visit our Conservation in South Africa project page.