Izizwe Township Projects

Volunteers will work in vibrant Walmer township, getting involved in the lifestyle, while helping with the care and teaching of children.

Minimum Duration: 1 week
Cost: From 200 Euro per week
Minimum Age: 16 years

About

Izizwe Projects was started in 2008 by local resident Prof Mtyaleka and founder of Khaya, Martijn van der Put. They started introducing international visitors to the township community by organising township tours and school visits for those who were interested. The interaction with international tourists presented an opportunity to do more substantial things and people started volunteering at some of the crèches and schools, for shorter or longer periods of time. In 2012 Izizwe Projects was formally registered as non-profit organisation.

The incredible change these international volunteers have brought to this community shows the need to grow further and attract more international volunteers, who are willing to make a difference.

Walmer Township is one of the few places in South Africa where, during Apartheid years, a community of mostly Xhosa people remained in the middle of the white communities. Even though the ruling party tried to evacuate this community, it continued to exist through the support of the surrounding white employers. These employers preferred their domestic workers and gardeners living close by, as opposed to 30 km outside town where most black communities were forcefully relocated to. That is how this township, nowadays, forms the home of approximately 70,000 people.

Walmer is different from other townships because of its location. It is a relatively calm and easily accessible area. Poverty, child neglect, alcohol abuse and a high unemployment rate are some of the many challenges this community faces on a day-to-day basis. The diversity of needs and great lack of services for this community shows in terms of a shortage of educational institutes. There are only 2 primary schools and 1 high school available to the children of Walmer Township.

The focus of the Izizwe Projects are the community and especially the children of the townships of Gqebera, more commonly known as Walmer Township in Port Elizabeth (PE), South Africa. Izizwe strives to uplift the lives of underprivileged children in Walmer Township, who are our main target group. They are members of the Xhosa (indigenous tribe and language) and communication can therefore be a challenge, especially with the very young, but fortunately English is also a commonly used language.

Many of the children have to deal directly or indirectly with HIV/AIDS. They are for example orphaned and are living with family members (e.g. grandparents) because their parents died of AIDS related diseases. The number of absentees at school is high due to a lack of guidance, family support and financial means. Volunteers are expected to guide and support these children through mentorship and social support.

Programs offered

The project consists of several programs all run and supervised by the Izizwe Volunteer Coordinators, who are all volunteers themselves and live in Walmer Township. The diversity of possibilities creates an opportunity for volunteers to suggest preferences, for age groups and specific personal interest to be involved in.

Dance Program

Florence Mtengwana, a local resident of Walmer, has been offering children the opportunity to come to her house in the afternoons to receive a meal and practice traditional dancing for many years now. Her gift of working with children and offering them a positive way of learning about their own Xhosa culture, gives the 30-35 children who attend every day, a sense of belonging and pride in their culture. The other options for these children are very limited and often will result in them being on the streets and getting involved with crime and drug abuse.

Izizwe has developed, together with local projects and Florence, a program to bring dance and music into the schools and crèches. With the help from overseas donations and the initiative of one of our previous volunteers we have created a dance program where Florence will visit several crèches and schools on a weekly basis.

 These 1-1.5 hour workshops are aimed at offering the children a fun way of dancing, learning about their culture and to stimulate their creativity. Volunteers can assist Florence during these lessons or you can even get Xhosa dance lessons yourself!

Primary Schools

The two primary schools in Walmer, each offer education to 700-800 learners of the ages of 6-12 years, and have a big need for class assistants, support with remedial teaching, afterschool sports programs and general interaction with the children. Izizwe works closely with Walmer Primary School and supports them with a sports program and holiday programs for their learners.

Volunteers can be involved to assist in the classrooms and further developing the sports program.

 Preschools

Volunteers can help at different preschools or crèches caring for 20-30 children of the ages of 3-6 years, by giving individual care and assistance to the children. It sounds so simple, but daily individual attention can really help these children. You can, for example: teach them the English alphabet, how to count, or to identify animals. Organising and playing games can also be a part of your tasks. As a volunteer you play a big part in the individual development of the children, but foremost volunteers can help the teachers to increase their levels of expertise and improve learning conditions overall.

Sports Program

Our sport program has grown over the last few years to a full-time program providing different age groups of children daily sports activities at the primary schools, as well as basketball lessons after school.

The children of this community have limited options to enjoy sports, and with our local coaches and support from international volunteers, Izizwe provides a full-time sports program in the primary schools. The input of volunteers is needed to assist in further developing this program, to coach the children and to work together with the local coaches to increase awareness, organise sports tournaments and participate in competitive matches.

Under the guidance of our local coaches, volunteers will be involved in coaching both boys as girls in the age group of 6-18 years old.   

On Friday we offer a swimming program for children between 6-9 years old and we provide transport to a heated indoor swimming pool in winter or a outdoor swimming pool in summer where we give basic swimming lessons and hand out diplomas to the children after these lessons.

If you are into sports and exercise, and if you love working with children, this project is designed for you!  We could really use the help in further growing this project and to work together with our coach to come up with new ideas and activities for the children to have fun while exercising.

Project needs

There is, besides daily aid and assistance, also a need for financial support. Any possible gifts and donations provided by volunteers and their network of people are extremely appreciated. Instead of collecting goods and materials for donation, it is recommended to purchase and donate these on location.

Needs:

  • Learning materials and school stationary for the children
  • Sporting equipment and materials for the children
  • Toys, puzzles and educational games for the children
  • Food parcels for families and children in need
  • Clothing for families and children in need
  • School uniforms for the children

Tasks and activities

Daily activities

Activities per volunteer can differ in many ways. The variety of projects allows us to customise your work and activities, focusing on your personal experience and interests. Some volunteers will prefer to work with young children and babies and therefore work at a crèche, while others may want to teach at the High school and help with homework guidance during afternoons. Each volunteer will have the opportunity to get familiar with the variety of projects and choose the activities that appeal to them the most.

Working days and hours

This depends on which project you will be working at. Normally we work weekdays from 8:30am until 15.30pm, Friday until 12.00 and weekends are off. Some projects however might start earlier and in summertime, due to the heat, hours can change.

Daily guidance

Guidance will be offered in multiple ways as different people are involved in your stay with Izizwe.

First of all, by one of the Volunteer Coordinators who will pick you up, shows you around and prepares your work activities with the projects before, supervises during and evaluates after your stay. They will transfer you to and from the project, make sure the shopping is done and organize fun outings for the weekends. The coordinators live at the volunteer house and will be looking after your needs in any way. They have lots of experience and have volunteered before themselves.

At Izizwe Projects (within Walmer Township) we have several coordinators who are responsible for your daily duties and activities and will guide you during project hours.

Conditions

It is important that volunteers of this project understand the importance of the following:

  • To be enthusiastic and independent
  • To sign a "Code of Conduct" when arriving
  • To show respect towards the people and culture of the local community. You might not agree with certain ways of conduct during your stay here, but don’t forget you are a guest here, and you can’t try to change everything in a period of just a few weeks.
  • To show flexibility and patience towards responsibilities, tasks and activities.
  • To be willing to take initiative and come up with ideas.

Volunteering at this project is very diverse and can be challenging. You will get acquainted with the circumstances in which 70% of South Africans live today, and experience their culture and situation. Be prepared to face misery and poverty. For this reason, it is of absolute importance that volunteers are independent and mature individuals. You will be singing and dancing with the children, you will make them laugh, help them with schoolwork and teach them there’s a whole world waiting for them. This way you can change a mind-set that will enlarge their horizons and contribute to a better future.

Other volunteers

You most likely won’t be alone when volunteering at Izizwe, and will meet both local and international volunteers. We get volunteers from all over the world -  from the USA, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the UK and many other countries. 

See what other volunteers say about this project

You can review this project here and here.

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