Volunteer Opportunities in Johannesburg

September 6, 2013

As promised in my previous post on charity in Africa, I have now put together a collection of volunteer opportunities in and around Johannesburg. I don't claim it to be in any way complete as there is simply too much going on to mention it all. I just "assembled" all the outreach projects I was involved in or that were brought to my attention by friends.

If you are a newly arrived expat, this will be a great starting point for you and your family to get involved. If your move to South Africa is still in the vague future, you might want to file this away to pull back out once you are here. For those of you who've already lived here for a while, as always I welcome all your comments and additions to this list.


Alexandra Baseball: This is at the top of the list, simply because it was my pet project while living in Joburg. It is really still my pet project, just from afar. We have been so blessed for the Irwin family to step in and not only take over what I left behind, but expand and grow Alex Baseball in ways that weren't open to me. The idea is to provide opportunities to disadvantaged children in the township of Alexandra through the sport of baseball. It is a great volunteer opportunity for those expats who love sports, especially those Americans who have baseball withdrawal and can't quite bring themselves to from an affinity for cricket.

Contact: Natalie Irwin at Alexandra Baseball

Shumbashaba Equine Assisted Therapy: Conveniently located close to both Dainfern and the American School, this is essentially a horse stable (although they are involved in a variety of other community outreach programs) where disabled kids from Diepsloot are brought to ride once or twice a week. Most of these kids have cerebral palsy or some other handicap, and it is absolutely amazing to see how horse riding helps them with their development. They are in desperate need of people who come one or two mornings a week and help with the riding (two people are needed to hold some of these children on the horse, or to guide the horse around the track. If anything, you get a good workout, and you get to spend the morning outside in one of the most picturesque locations of Johannesburg! Read about Shumbashaba here and find out how you can become involved.

Contact: Sharon Boyce at Shumbashaba


Door of Hope: This is an orphanage in Glenvista run out of someone’s home. Not the closest to the Northern Suburbs of Joburg where most expats live, but a great place to volunteer and hold and play with babies. Volunteers will have to submit an application (forms provided on the website) and get a police clearance.

Contact: Nadene Crowder at Door of Hope


New Jerusalem Children's Home: Another orphanage focused on AIDS orphans with volunteer opportunities in admin and fundraising as well as through the adjacent Orange Babies Montessori Preschool. I have written a news story about New Jerusalem here.

Contact: Anna Mojapelo at New Jerusalem Children's Home


Princess Alice Adoption Home: As you can see there is no shortage of orphanages in Johannesburg, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. This one is near the Westcliff Hotel and they are celebrating 83 years this October.

Contact: Jo-Anne Schermeier at Princess Alice Adoption Home

Diepsloot Combined School: Volunteers teach English and perform basic health screenings. If you have a nursing background, this is a great volunteer opportunity, but it is not a requirement. Anybody who can volunteer a few hours each week is welcome.

Contact: EduFun webpage

Thokozani Preschool: Founded by a fellow Dainfern Valley expat, this endeavour in Diepsloot has grown by leaps and bounds in a very short time. The Friends of Thokozani have done amazing work with these 150+ kids that didn't have anything but dirt floors before. Volunteers meet on Mondays, carpooling from Dainfern Valley Shopping Center at 9 am, to help with supplies, teaching and support in whatever way possible.

Contact: Annabel Newell at Friends of Thokozani

Help Portrait: A great opportunity especially for hobby photographers, but anyone can help. The biggest drive is the annual Christmas project where volunteers go into disadvantaged communities and photograph people, returning later with a printed and framed portrait. But there are other year-round projects at any given time, and you can also create your very own outreach drive. To get an idea of what this looks like, read the article I wrote about it here.

Contact: Stanley-Carl Du-Pont at Ubuntu Help Portrait

African Havens: Yet another children's home run by a Christian organization with plentiful opportunities to help with fundraising, photography, transport, maintenance, tutoring, and lots and lots of playing with babies.

Contact: Candace Sutton at African Havens


Lastly, a good place for more outreach options would be your local school (ours was Dainfern College), as most every school in South Africa is involved in at least one if not many outreach programs and partnerships. The Dainfern International Social Club meets one Tuesday each month and also provides opportunities for volunteer work, and the American Society of South Africa is yet another organization you might join to explore volunteer opportunities for expats.

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