Volunteer Testimonials   |  Children's Hospital Project Photos  |   Download Children's Hospital Volunteer Guide

Children love to play! It is the key to development in many areas and helps them to understand the world around them. It promotes learning, growth and development, relaxation, fun and socialisation. Play also allows the child to deal with the stresses and strains of life which they might be finding overwhelming.

The Friends Of the Children’s Hospital Association is based at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. As a volunteer you will interact with patients on the wards through play activities. Occasionally you might be asked to assist ward staff, help with administrative tasks as well as help out with reception duties.

To join this project you will need to be in good physical condition and aged 18 years or older by the time you arrive in Cape Town. Emotional maturity and discretion are important assets for volunteers at the hospital, and you must also have personal characteristics like commitment, flexibility, patience and the ability to use your initiative if you find yourself at a loose end. To ensure effective communication between all team members, a good understanding of the English language is also required.

Watch a video interview with a previous volunteer

Arrival AirportCape Town (CPT)
Arrival DayFriday or earlier
Join Project OnMonday
DurationYou can volunteer at the Children's Hospital for 1 week or more
Volunteering HoursApproximately 8:30am - 12:30pm, from Monday to Friday each week
Main ActivitiesAssisting with the play programme on various children's wards
Fly Home OnFriday or later
Minimum AgeYou must be aged 18 years or older when you arrive
AvailabilityAvailable dates for each duration are shown on the top-right of this page with the option to select from several currencies.
Pre-arrival SupportOur experienced Cape Town team is on hand with expert advice and assistance to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip to South Africa
Airport TransfersOne of our team will be at the airport to welcome you when you land. We will also get you back to the airport in time for your flight home
Welcome BriefYou will receive a comprehensive welcome brief shortly after you arrive
AccommodationYou will stay at Ashanti Lodge in central Cape Town with a pool, restaurant, bar and wonderful views of Table Mountain
FoodBasic breakfasts are included at Ashanti Lodge. All other meals are self-catering
OrientationOn your first morning with the Children's Hospital you will have a full orientation
T-ShirtAn attractive Via Volunteers T-Shirt
In-country SupportOur Cape Town based volunteer coordinators are available 24/7 for emergencies, and are on hand to help you make the most of your stay
CertificateOn completion of your placement we will send you a special thank you certificate to accompany your CV or resume.
VisasCitizens from most countries can arrive in South Africa and stay for up to 90 days without a Visa. Please refer to our FAQ section for more details if you are unsure
FlightsPlease refer to our FAQ section for recommendations about keeping your flight costs to a minimum
InsuranceWe have partnered with World Nomads Insurance to give you access to great value insurance for volunteers. Please check out our Insurance page under the FAQ tab for more details
TransportWe will take you to the Children's Hospital on your first morning. Thereafter, you will need to book and pay for your remaining transfers using the Uber App on your phone.

Volunteer Testimonials   |  Children's Hospital Project Photos  |   Download Children's Hospital Volunteer Guide

Your first visit to the hospital will be on the first Monday after you arrive in Cape Town.

On your first day, one of the Via Volunteer's team will collect you from Ashanti Lodge @ 08:30 and take you to the hospital. Thereafter, you will need to book your remaining transfers between Ashanti Lodge and the hospital using the Uber app on your phone.

We will introduce you to the Friends of the Children's Hospital volunteer coordinator who will help you to settle in with a warm welcome and a tour of the wards. She will get you started soon after and provide you with a provisional schedule for the week ahead.

You will be provided with an apron and name badge to wear while you are in the hospital.

From Monday to Friday your daily routine will see you helping out from 09:00 to approximately 12:15. There is a 20 minute tea & biscuit break at about 10:30.

You will often need to be able to act on your own initiative as the volunteers need to choose how to entertain the children by checking their age, gender, level of illness etc. We suggest that you bring your computer along so that you can entertain the children with appropriate movies which you can download before you arrive. This is especially so in the burn unit as the children there find it very difficult to move around as they are in lots of pain.

If you would like to book any activities or tours for your free time, please let Ed or Heather know and they will be happy to arrange these for you.

Volunteer Testimonials   |  Children's Hospital Project Photos  |   Download Children's Hospital Volunteer Guide

As one of Cape Town’s best backpackers, Ashanti Lodge has excellent facilities and is perfectly positioned in central Cape Town as an ideal base for volunteers. This will be your home while your're here and is a great place to relax when you aren’t out exploring everything Cape Town has to offer.

Ashanti is just a couple of minutes away from the excellent MyCiti bus route which provides cheap, safe and reliable transport to Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront, Camps Bay, Hout Bay and much more. Close by you will also find an incredible variety of restaurants and bars, plenty of great hangouts in Long Street, a well-equipped shopping mall, supermarkets, health shops, cafes…the list goes on.

While you’re at Ashanti you can enjoy all of the facilities below. Whether you’re having a dip in the pool, watching Table Mountain while you have breakfast, or booking an adventurous activity at the Travel Desk, you will find that Ashanti have thought of everything:

  • Dormitory accommodation with all bedding and linen provided.
  • Free Wi-Fi from anywhere on the premises
  • A fully equipped shared kitchen with fridge/freezers for storing your groceries
  • A basic breakfast is included in the kitchen, with tea, coffee, juice, cereals, yoghurt, toast, peanut butter and jam
  • All bedding including linen, duvet and pillows (linen is changed every four days)
  • Laundry service – R70 per 0-5kg load including powder, wash, dry & fold. Drop it off at reception and it will be ready for you about 12 hours later
  • Lots of showers and toilets
  • A lovely pool area with sun beds and a BBQ
  • A restaurant bar with a pool table, and a balcony overlooking the pool with impressive views of Table Mountain. An all you can eat breakfast buffet is available for only R70, with great value meals available through to 10pm
  • A personal safe for every volunteer and coded access to your room
  • Lockable under bed storage for your suitcase/clothing (bring your own padlock for this)
  • CCTV Security, controlled access and a night guard
  • A night manager
  • The lodge is cleaned daily and rooms are also serviced daily.

Volunteer Testimonials   |  Children's Hospital Project Photos  |   Download Children's Hospital Volunteer Guide

The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is located in Cape Town about a 10 minute drive from Ashanti Lodge.

We have arrival dates for this project every Friday throughout the year.

  • You should aim to arrive in Cape Town on or before your chosen Friday arrival date
  • You can arrive at any time of day and one of our team will be there to welcome you with a big ‘Via Volunteers’ sign when you land at Cape Town International Airport
  • We will then escort you to your accommodation at Ashanti Lodge in Cape Town
  • You will have the rest of the weekend to begin exploring everything Cape Town has to offer
  • On Monday morning we will take you to the hospital for your first morning with the children.

It’s easy to add extra nights to your stay, so if you find a cheaper flight that arrives earlier than your chosen Friday arrival date just let us know. You can also add extra nights after your placement for the same reason.

If you want to add another project, a Scuba Diving Course, a Surfing Week, or even a longer tour, we can help you with that too. Please ask one of our friendly team at any time before you arrive in Cape Town.

Volunteer Testimonials   |  Children's Hospital Project Photos  |   Download Children's Hospital Volunteer Guide

How hospital stays affect children at different ages:

A hospital stay will affect different children in different ways, depending on their age, the reason for their hospitalization  and their personality type.

Birth to 12 months (1 year old)

  • Babies at this age usually develop many new skills. Being at the hospital sometimes does not allow them to practice these skills. These skills may included rolling, sitting, crawling, and walking.
  • Babies may not get enough sensory stimulation, for example music, sunlight, body positions, touch, and toys.
  • If the baby's family is not able to stay often or able to hold the baby, the baby's relationship with people may be affected.

12 months to 24 months (1 year to 2 years old)

  • Children continue to develop new skills. Opportunities to develop these skills may be limited by illness.
  • Daily routines are different and so sleeping and eating patterns can change while the child is in hospital.
  • Children are developing trust in their caregivers at this age. This can be difficult at the hospital, because there are many people involved with the child's care during what are often stressful circumstances.
  • Being away from family is very stressful, because children at this age are often fearful of strangers.
  • Children of this age often do not fully understand why they are in hospital.

2 years to 5 years

  • Being away from home and their familiar routines is stressful.
  • Children may be afraid they will be hurt by hospital procedures.
  • Children may believe they did something wrong and that is why they are now in the hospital.
  • These children may know more about their bodies now, but their understanding is still limited.
  • Language skills are developing fast, but children may misunderstand words they hear and not be able to adequately express how they are feeling.

5 years to 12 years

  • Being away from home, school, and friends is often stressful.
  • Fear of needles and pain is common.
  • Fears about surgery, for example falling asleep and pain after surgery are common.

Durations & Pricing

Change your currency
1 week - £ 390
2 weeks - £ 590
3 weeks - £ 790
4 weeks - £ 990
You do not pay anything when you book. We will provide you with a detailed itinerary and quote for you to check. When you are happy with the details, you will be able to confirm your placement with a deposit of £90.

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