Unless you have plans to disappear off to university or to jump straight into employment, taking a gap year to think about what you want to do with your life might really help you to plan your future. Time spent abroad can help you see fresh possibilities in life that you might never have thought of if you chose to stay in the small town where you grew up. Gap years are the perfect opportunity for people to see a bit of the world, learn a greater sense of independence and develop a more rounded view of life. All of these skills are very useful and can make you a lot more attractive to a future employer.
Why Spend a Gap Year in South Africa?
South Africa is an incredibly beautiful country with a rich tapestry of culture and stunning scenery. The country has a lot to offer, including gorgeous coastlines, lush vineyards, arid desert and towering mountains, plus some amazing wildlife. In short there are plenty of reasons why you might want to visit South African on a gap year. You may choose to volunteer on a wildlife reserve or work in a winery for a few months or you may visit for the sand and surf. Whatever your reasons for travelling to South Africa on a gap year, there are plenty of work opportunities on offer.
How Much Does Volunteer Work Cost?
Costs vary considerably between different schemes, but in general, the longer period of time you sign up for, the cheaper the overall cost is. The price will normally include most meals, airport transfers, laundry and other day to day living expenses, but you will be expected to pay the cost of return flights to South Africa and apply for your own South African work permit.
Volunteering in South Africa
There are plenty of opportunities to do voluntary work in South Africa, including wildlife conservation, sports coaching, and working with vulnerable children in poor communities. None of these volunteer placements should be considered easy and most will involve a great deal of hard work and commitment, but the rewards are endless.
Conservation Work Opportunities
If you love wildlife, volunteering for a spell on a nature reserve may be a wonderful chance to see some of South Africa’s wildlife up close and personal. Several conservation projects in South Africa offer volunteers the opportunity to assist in vital conservation efforts, including the monitoring of endangered species and assisting with wildlife breeding programmes. Volunteering for such schemes is not free and you will be expected to pay a fee to take part, but all money raised is used to fund the projects.
Sports Coaching in South Africa
Sport plays a very important role in the education of children and young people in South Africa. Cricket and football in particular are both popular, so if you are skilled at either of these two sports and you fancy having a go at coaching children and teenagers, there are several sports coaching initiatives on offer. You can spend a few weeks teaching young people from deprived communities to play different sports where you will play in matches and get involved in the local community.
HIV Outreach Programs
HIV is a massive problem in poorer South African communities and if you want a truly life changing experience, sign up for a volunteer scheme that provides healthcare assistance in rural areas and promotes HIV awareness and education.
Working with Children
South Africa is full of disadvantaged and vulnerable children, many of whom are orphans. If you love children, helping to provide support in the local community will give you a great taste of humanitarian work. You can help teach young children and give pre-school children some one-on-one attention they so often lack.
Frankie Hughes is a writer who believes that a gap year is the best way to gain some inspiring experience and to give you the opportunity to plan your future. If you are looking to work in a country like South Africa, then you should research how to apply for a South African Work Permit before you go.